Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New kitchen garden ideas 2012 - wall gardens, gates and gutters!

Keeping a kitchen garden is as much about experimenting as it is about food - your making your own mark on a small corner of the world.

I have been meaning to better fence off the kitchen garden patch for a while.

A self closing gate as a feature as much as a function. The running gear (rope) will be spliced and tidied later in a more seaman like manner as is appropriate - but its sort of a tribute to - or perhaps a momento mori of - those who went before me.
The gate was welded up by a friend. The gate body is an old drying rack from a Stanley No.8 range my Grandmother got in around 1946.
My Granddad apparently preferred the old open fireplace, so she had it delivered and installed while he was out fishing, fait acomplis.
Hinges and pulleys came from O Malleys shop in Rosmuc, Connemara - a really great family run old fashioned business who have everything you will need from the cradle to the grave. 

The counterweight is pig iron from the old sash windows of Ardmore National school which was renovated in 1987-1988.
My Dad was headmaster and salvaged them for use as ballast in Galway hookers, but I found a few in the garden when developing it.
 They were in the windows from about 1878 until 1988. Now one is still in use pretty much in its original role about 135 years after being cast.

The self closing gate itself was inspired by a dear family friend called James Jocelyn who was an artist from nearby.
As a small child I was fascinated by a self closing gate he built for his garden - much in the same fashion.
The gate was made from materiel's associated with my family, but was certainly inspired by James.
He was a fantastic floral gardener, growing all kinds of blossoms from a hard won patch of stony ground.

I loved to visit him, and even when he was busy he put up with me - how I really don't know.
There was these old swords above the fire place that I would insist on playing with. An old RN sword and a Rapier that had been made in Dublin.

Later on in life as I turned into an adult, I picked up a lot from him about art, literature, culture and history.

James had a friendly but very extraordinarily hyperactive and loud Jack Russell called Noodles, who for some reason would swing a fishing buoy on a rope like a hammer thrower, then release and chase it - In hindsight I think Noodles may have been the origin of the word barking mad.

James was in fact a distant in-law of James Bligh - he of the Bounty, so obviously the accusations of keelhauling, flogging and spread eagling noodles were too tempting to resist. In my defence I think it was only fair in lieu of the fact he frequently told my Mother, and later me, that she must have dropped me on my head as a baby.

James was always supportive and encouraging when I chose to go to Sea as a career, so I do owe him a lot of thanks.
My 21st Birthday present made by him was a wonderful model of St MacDaras church in Connemara marble which still and will always have pride of place.
I think perhaps that although the idea for the gate was in train for quite some time that it did not go up until now is a little cathartic - some time back around this time of the year James passed away, he is still missed but having had his humour and intellect as part of my upbringing will always stand me in good stead.

Anyway, there are two more experiments in the garden - the first being the pea gutter.
Old guttering affixed outside the shoring I put in last year over the drain.
I had the guttering re-done last year, so had a load of old, unsightly gutters all over the shop so I recycled them this way rather than driving them all to a recycle centre.

This way I am using both sides of the fence for peas and beans - maybe squash later.
Another set of old guttering added to the top of the supporting posts to grow lettuce/salad type food.
The inspiration for this came from a photo in the US I believe
I have got my hands on lots of climbing legumes so this is pretty much where they will go -
For me its a nitrogen fixer for the soil, and saves a hell of a lot of hassle putting up canes and supports - this is no maintainance once the transplants go into place.
I concentrated on types that do not require shelling like Mange Tout and Green beans, but for good measure I will add some Runner beans and Irish Green peas.

One thing that has defeated me over the years is tomatoes and basil, I dont have and dont thing I really want a polytunnel.
So, the south east facing wall of the house is well sheltered and quite sunny - no trees in the way.
The trellis' came from Aldi last year, very cheap - around €6 each.
The hanging basket brackets came from Lidl this year, €3 each
Using some timber I will be knocking up a few planter boxes for the base, about 1m x 30cm and 30cm deep.
These will be seeded with gherkins, climbing squash and delicate herbs like basil, corriander and quinquilla.
When established and the weather gets warmer they will be slotted in below the trellis to climb away for the summer - and with our short nights I have high hopes.
The black fabric behind the trellis will protect plaster and paint work from the climbers tendrils, and help absorb more heat into the wall.
The hanging baskets will be used to try a variety of tumbling tomato types, we will see which work best.

Anyway, it goes to show with even only a wall, you can still grow your own from the plot to the plate, and even if my peas are in the gutter - they are staring at the stars!

Please feel free to comment if you use any ideas or experiment with something like this

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  1. your garden pictures could be taken anywhere in NL its uncanny the similarity..I grow my spuds in beds with trenches on either side..we call it trenching potatoes ..I have a new article on "lazy beds" on my blog ..we have our own type of music called Irish/Newfoundland music..only you woun't find any leprechauns in nl lol.

  2. Two of the varieties of broad beans I put in this year are flowering while still tiny. I think it is because of the poor soil so I have fertilised them to see if that makes them grow a bit more.
    They are looking fine aside from their small size.fence boards


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