Compost making.

Now that the compost bins are empty its time to start filling up again.There are many ways in making compost.I have based my method on the Berkley method.If you follow the Berkley method it is possable to be able to obtain compost after 18 days.For a great detailed explanation on the Berkley method visit here .

To begin I pay a visit to my comfrey patch and take the first cutting of the season.

The comfrey patch

I then put a layer of shredded paper in the bottom of the bin.I also use leaves that I collected last autumn or shredded layers of cardboard.

The carbon layer.

I then follow this with a thin layer of grass clippings and comfrey leaves.This is my nitrogen layer and acts as a compost accellerator.The comfrey leaves gives the process an extra kick-start. Compost accelerators (compost activator) speed up the first stage of garden composting.

The Accelerators.

From the adjoining bin I add a layer of finished compost. The idea behind adding old compost is to inoculate the pile with a healthy culture of soil organisms that colonize the pile.A mixture of bacteria, fungus and nitrogen gives your compost bin a little spurt of activity to get your garden composter going.


Introducing some micro organisms.

I keep layering my compost heap untill I run out of grass clippings.Any comfrey leaves left over are used for a liquid feed and old compost is then put back into the garden.No waste!

After two weeks I turn it and turn it then on a weekly basis.When I have gathered up more grass clippings the whole process just begins again.

Getting ready for comfrey.

Got round to the first digging of the year.In the patch of ground I am preparing I will be putting in some comfrey.I  will be taking root cuttings from some plants that I grew last year.

Comfrey from early summer 2011.

Comfrey is a great plant to have in your garden. It has very deep roots which take up nutrients from deep down in the soil.These nutrients are then stored in its lush green leaves.The leaves can be cut several times throughout the growing season and can be applied as a mulch or can be made into a liquid fertiliser.

The left clearly shows the path of decaying comfrey leaves.

During winter the leaves all die back thus returning the nutrients from the decaying leaves to the soil for the roots to take up to build up reserves for growth to start again in the spring.

Signs of early growth.

This mild winter this year has brought some leaves of comfrey breaking through the soil.

Using Seaweed.

As I am close to the sea I am lucky to have an ample supply of seaweed.Seaweed is as good as farmyard manure.It is high in potash which helps in producing flowers which go on to produce fruit.

So when the tide goes out its time to start gathering it up.


However sometimes its easy to lose track of time as its important to get it to shore safely before the tide comes back in.


To get the full story on seaweed and how to use it pay a visit to this site

Winter pics.

A bit chilly today.In fact it has been chilly all summer.Are we in for another hard winter? Here are a few pics from last winter. Click on the photo to see more .

Hidden Treasure.

When doing a bit of a clean up I found a few bags of leaves hidden away that I had saved last autumn.I usually use these leaves throughout the year in the compost bins.

The leaves have now turned into a nice leaf mold which can be added directly to the soil to make a great soil conditioner.

More information can be got here on how to make your own.

The real cost of cheap food.

You can read the article here.

Sums up everything.

A little change is sometimes good.A very good summary of what went wrong and is still wrong with this country.Click on Bock here to find out more.

Mulching Time.

The garlic patch has a good covering of phacelia on it at the moment.Phacelia is whats known as a green manure.The idea is that it grows quickly and covers the ground.

The heavy growth smothers weed growth.

It smothers the growth of weeds and during the winter the dense blanket of growth will prevent soil erosion and stop the rain from washing out nutrients out of the soil.

Magnet for bees.

There are different types of green manures.Phacelia establishes quickly and also grows a lovely flower that is good at attracting bees, hoverflies and wasps into the area.The first frosts will kill of Phacelia and during the winter it will rot into the ground adding plenty of organic matter for next years sowings.

Should be cut before going to seed!

Covering The ground this way saves me time instead of having to do things this way.

Using green manures is just one of many simple and natural methods that are available to organic growers in their battle against weeds and improvement in soil fertility. Here is some more information on green manures.

Watergrass hill.

During the week went on another farm walk organised by the Organic Growers Of Ireland (OGI).This time around went to Watergrass Hill, which is located about 10 miles outside Cork, to visit Earth Angel Organics which is run by Tom and Carol Murray. For more details on Earth Angel Organics click here. You can also visit their Face Book page here.

Tom suffers from some back pain so he likes others to do the digging for him.

Men at work.

Each year Earth Angel Organics slaughters half a dozen pigs.Every part of the pig is utilised and they sell into local butchers.The pigs are left outdoors to rotavate the ground for a few months and then move onto pastures new.They also leave behind them a valuable source of farmyard manure.

The Chickens also do the same job!

Ladies at work.

A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are grown so as to service the 4 farmers markets that Earth Angel Organics supply to.The growing is done in three poly tunnels as well as outdoors.

Out door growing.

As the land can be pron to water logging the raised vegetable beds are made by a bed former that Tom put together himself.

Bed Former.

Fruit and vegetable production is the main activity of Earth Angel Organics.How ever eggs, chicken pork and a wide variety of jams and pickles play an important role in allowing Tom and Carol make a living from their small but productive plot.

The Pumpkin Project what to do and see.

Called out to have a look at the plot today.There are some female flowers on one of the plants.There is a miniature pumpkin at the base of the female flower.

Female Flower

However on this plant there are no male flowers.The male flowers have no miniature pumpkin at its base.The male flowers usually appear before the female ones so as to attract bees to the plant and to get them into the habit of coming to the plant.

The reason for all of this is for the bees to bring some pollen from the male flower to the female flower so that the miniature pumpkin can grow to a much larger one.This is called pollination.

Pull of petals from male flower.

You can help in pollination by locating a male flower, pulling it of the plant and pulling away the petals.Locate a female flower on another plant and gently rub the top of the male flower into the centre of the female flower so as to transfer the pollen between the flowers.

It’s best to do this when the flowers are dry.

The green manure is starting to come on …..

as well as the weeds ……..

but the flowers for the bees are coming on slowly…..

So if your out in the plot don’t forget to look out for the pumpkin flowers, do some pollination,  pick the weeds and have a look out for the green manure and try not to step on it! Over time the green manure will cover the weeds and block the sunlight and hopefully kill most of the weeds.