Last Monday was a cold and rainy day with the odd hailstone shower thrown in. I was at the plot, working on a few odd jobs, my headphones on under the hood, with Conor Oberst and Joan As A Policewoman helping me along. I was hoping to record the RCT (Rainwater Collection Thingy) in action at the end of my shift, but wouldn’t you know it, the rain decided to stop at the same time as I did. So instead, I ended up shooting this walk around the plot on my iPhone. Mostly, everything is growing well. A few downers… my potatoes have a bit of frost damage which I hope will go away soon! My Sweet Peas look very sad and, most disappointingly, my rhubarb is sickly with yellowing leaves and weak stalks. I think it needs time to settle in to it’s new bed – no bumper crop this year I’m afraid!
Red Grouse red listed.
When is a grouse not a grouse? When it’s a pheasant of course. I have been reliably informed by my fellow allotmenteers that what I thought were grouse are actually pheasants. It’s an easy mistake to make for someone who knows nothing about birds, but they are from the same wildfowl family and I do think they look alike. (photos from www.birdwatchireland.ie)
“Known as cearc fhraoigh as Gaeilge which means bird of heather, red grouse are perhaps the most characteristic bird of raised and blanket bogs. A medium sized, native gamebird, they are smaller than pheasants and have a rounded tail.
Grouse nest and shelter in tall heather. They feed on young heather shoots, flowers and seed. Berries such as fraocháns or bilberry and some insects are eaten. Mineral grit is also required to assist the breakdown of heather in the gizzard. Males are territorial in winter, with females joining them on their territories in spring before nesting starts in late April early May.
Historically, red grouse have been distributed widely in Ireland with extensive areas of heaths and bogs providing suitable food and shelter. Grouse lovers have expressed concern over their decline in many areas due to habitat loss caused by overgrazing, afforestation, mechanical peat extraction and uncontrolled burning.”
Grouse lookalike… female pheasant.
Bank Holiday Alliums.
French pink garlic ‘Germidour’.
At last I got around to planting some garlic, shallots and onions. I planted one bed of French pink garlic, one bed of banana shallots and three beds of ‘Radar’ onions. I have three ‘white’ garlic bulbs left to plant and will have to prepare a few more raised beds to accommodate them. I currently have a couple of beds free, but I want to save them for rhubarb and carrots.
I was a bit worried about planting onions in a bed next to my strawberries but after a little bit of research it appears they are good companion plants. I also have garlic planted in a bed beside the strawberries – hopefully they will be good neighbours. I have kept another bed free amongst the onions for planting carrots next year.
Garlic at the ready.
Banana Shallots take their positions.
Bank Holiday view.