I’m Home to See My Babies

I returned last night from a whirlwind trip to Ireland’s Ballyfin Demesne. The exclusive manor sits on 614 acres of orchards, gardens and rolling pastures.

Ireland shares the same latitude as my birth place, Edmonton, Alberta Canada. My parents claim it was 30 degrees below zero when I was born in March. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean hold some heat and protect Ireland from these frigid temperatures, but it’s safe to say the Emerald Isle has different growing seasons than the Bayou City. When I arrived on April 30th, they were planting cabbage, carrots and cauliflower, things we sow September – October. They rarely get temperatures hot enough to grow tomatoes or peppers (unless done in a greenhouse) and their harvest is completed by August; the gardens stay dormant until March when they sow onions and leeks. The gardeners at Ballyfin grow all they can in this limited season and can usually reap enough fruits and vegetables to feed resort guests nine months out of the year.

After nearly a week of sleeping in a castle, hobnobbing with Lords and Ladies and enjoying the Irish countryside, I’m ready to see my babies. My 18 month old twins are out for the night by the time I get home; it’s too dark to get a good look at the garden. My wife is still up; she tells me there is a problem with the boys and the garden. The twins really like the mulch I recently installed to retard weeds and prevent water evaporation. They want to play with it, throw it, chew on it and make a general mess. She suggests I put up a fence.

When I first planted, I tacked up some chicken wire around the garden to keep the boys from pulling up my seedlings. I left some established herbs I have growing in pots outside the little redneck fence and encouraged to them tear off leaves and taste the mint parsley, sage and rosemary. This was a decent distraction, but I soon realized they were far more interested in the colorful plastic identification spikes that came with the plants. They would reach over the fence, pull up the little markers and bring them to us as gifts, so we made a big game out of thanking them, then sneaking over and hiding the markers back amidst the plants. It’s like a never ending Easter egg hunt. They have so much fun with the plastic spikes they ignore the plants and I took down the little fence. However, the mulch is new and has too much texture to ignore.

the gardeners

the garden crew

I finally see the boys this morning. I steal a few minutes of playtime and cook them a healthy breakfast, then sneak out to look at the garden. Mulch is scattered all over the deck. Otherwise, the garden looks great. Plants have good color, some of the peppers have fruit more than two inches long, a couple of celebrity tomatoes are showing shades of red and my radishes have really taken off. The Sevin Dust got rid of whatever was dining on the cabbage, broccoli and Bok Choy. Everything has grown.

I’m a little concerned the garden is doing better because I was gone; my wife is certainly taking credit for the success. I plan to give it another good feeding. The cauliflower and the cabbage are failures; today I’ll rip them out and sow eggplants and okra in the space. I also need to devise a new strategy to keep my assistants out of the mulch.

Garden, May 5, 2014

Garden, May 5, 2014


Healthy radishes with 4″ tall tops

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!