Farewell Parkhouse

August is a great month in the garden. Apart from watering , weeding and harvesting it’s a time when one should try to take the foot off the gas a little and enjoy the bounty of food on offer before September when the sowings for overwinter and clearance will begin. Earlier this week we had a barbeque to celebrate all the hardwork. We had a lovely afternoon in the tunnel cooking and eating while the rain pelted the polythene above our heads. We were joined by friends from other departments. Sheilagh from the day centre in particular saved the day by offering us the use of their gas barbeque.

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We had resorted to the flamer.

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That morning we picked and prepared some fruit and veg. Delicious tomatoes,and basil , courgette and onion , sweetcorn, salads , baked potatoes, eggs and good quality butchers burgers, chicken and sausage. For desert raspberries and Victoria Plums with fresh cream. Hopefully this will be the first of many barbeques in the future.

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With all this tasty food we were joined by some feather friends. This one was luck not to have been plucked and cooked, there was talk of it.

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This is my last week at Parkhouse so feeling a little sadness mixed with excitement for the future. These are some of the lads I,ve worked with over the past 18 months. Some of the faces have changed as we operate a continuous intake system Fetac level 4 Hort. While I look forward to volunteering (woofing) on the continent I will definately miss the place as  gardening you develope a strong connection with place. A big thanks to all for making me feel very welcome , It has been a mutual learning experience. As a centre for Horticultural education one of the great strengths of Park House is that it operates year round which I think is so important to experience the entire yearly cycle.

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It’s weird taking the last walk around. Here Bulb fennel is doing well and I,m sure will be harvested and cooked when ready. For those at Park House who read this blog especially Gus  who is handing over this bed to Paddy the fennel will be ready when its about 3 inches accross. Remove the leaves from the bulb and store in a sealed bag in the fridge for use. It’s nice roasted with fish.

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The site of the corner heap is now sorted, it took a huge effort to clear. It’s a lovely spot in the garden. Joe seems to have appointed himself in charge of composting and I know he will keep on top of incoming material in the composting area.The site still needs a decent wood chipper however.

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The South West view from the former composting area looking to the top and cane fruit.

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Joe turning the compost

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An example of top fruit ( apple) with red and white currants / rhubarb planted together. The woodchips are proving quite effective at weed supression and soil protection and I would definately do this again. There is a bounty of fruit now.

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One of the heavily laden Victoria Plums. An amazing crop of delicious fruit. 

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This courgette is growing in Jordans bed , he had decided to leave it on the plant to see how big it will get. These are open pollinated so the seed can be saved also. .

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The current record holder is ..

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At this stage there are so many courgettes a competition is in order.

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Joe harvesting some cut and come again salads.

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Danny thinning a few carrots for dinner. The taste of the veg is winning him over.

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Brendan harvesting some runnerbeans.

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Woodchips used around ornamentals

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Layering: To get new strawberry plants the runners are potted up. Use a folded piece of wood or old coat hangers to hold down.These are typically detached from the mother plant in September. To get the strongest plant pot up the first runner of the season, removing all others and fruit from the mother plant thus all the energy goes into the new plant. Strawberries are grown for three years then production drops. Its a good idea each year to produce a percentage of new plants to continue on as older ones are removed. The bed can travel using this technique. Spacing is typically 45cm (plants) x 60cm ( rows)

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Sweetcorn as fresh as it gets for the barbeque.

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A selection of squash. Gabriel trained his in a tight circle using canes, a Joy Larcom method. 

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An example of Fasciation on Veronica. The growth in this case is flattened but causes no harm to the plant. Possible causes are many, hormonal, bacterial, fungal, viral, genetic.

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The square foot bed is a good way to grow a wide variety of veg in a small space.

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Leeks coming along in Jordans bed.

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Carrots surrounded by leeks to help deter the carrot root fly.

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Carrots and Parsnips protected with barrier.

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J Artichokes can be harvested from late Autumn and will store in boxes of sand.

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Figs coming on

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Apples and pears

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Cordon apples

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Harvesting area.

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Rainbow chard

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Salad beds.

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A quick design to introduce drip and overhead irrigation in the tunnel.

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This is a very special place with a long history of gardening. Its been a pleasure to work here with some lovely people. I would like to thank all the staff especially Ann O’ Sullivan and David Shorthall. This has been a great experience for me that I,m sure will open up all sorts of opportunities in the future.  Many thanks and goodbye for now.

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