Breezy Blog

Grow on outta that. Hover flys

Posted on July 30, 2014 by Noel Joyce | 0 Comments

The other day Sophia came running into the kitchen saying there was wasps all over the fennel flowers in the raised bed. I went out to have a look and there they were. There had to be about 20 of them flying around the fennel and some more on some broccoli we had long since eaten but the plant had bolted with hundreds of beautifully smelling yellow flowers appearing.

First thing I thought was that there was a nest somewhere in the shed or even in the attic of the house which worried me a bit. The decision was made to get on the internet and figure out how to dispose of a wasps nest. Wheeling towards the door of the house I noticed a peculiar thing about one of the wasps. It was literally suspended in the the air in one spot. It didn't move left or right up or down just remained in the exact same spot. I dont know much about wasps but I never seen them act this way. Looking closer at the "wasp" I noticed that although it was striped it was closer to cream and black rather than yellow and black.

Hoverfly in our Broccoli.

Google to the rescue. A quick search on the internet revealed that this was not a wasp but a Hover fly. Turns out these little guys participate in the act of mimicry which is not uncommon in nature. Birds tend to leave them alone as they look like wasps. A bit more looking revealed even more good news. Hover flys are pollinators. They go from flower to flower helping to pollinate plants. this was great news as there have been more bees around but not as many as I would like to see. Another piece of great news is that Hover flies like to eat aphids. Whats an aphid? its a greenfly.

So there you have it a fly that looks like a wasp but does the job of both a bee and a ladybug. So if you see these guys around the garden hovering from one plant to another there is no need to be afraid. They are more benefit than you would realise. Still haven't convinced Sophia though!

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Until next time.

Noel

Posted in breezy, ECO, ecopotagator, garden, GYO, pot, summer

What we do with our HIPs (High Impact Polystyrene)

Posted on July 18, 2014 by Noel Joyce | 0 Comments

Hey guys, in previous posts I have been talking a lot about what experimentation I get up to when growing plants. Its something I love doing and it has given me some great inspiration for new ideas. I would like to tell you more about these ideas and how I arrive at a conclusion with them. As a product designer its pretty much impossible to look at something and not see a way to make it better. Coming up with ways to help people through new ideas that make a difference is my everyday job. When I get to do this in combination with what I do as a hobby which is growing plants then it becomes much more than just a job. The ideas become more precious.

Recycled HIPS or High Impact Polystyrene, the raw material used in the ECOPotagator.

When working on an idea the problems addressed go beyond the initial one the idea was borne from in the first place. The most recent product idea is the ECOpotagator which was developed to allow people to be able to have the experience of bringing a seed to a seedling and then onto a plant in an all in one solution. Developed with small spaces in mind it makes growing a plant from seed an experience that works for all of us no matter what our space at home is like. All it needs is a windowsill or table. It does not require any propagation equipment as it has its own. It has a water beaker that doubles up as a propagation cap and it converts to a large pot once the seedling takes off. I made sure the product gave the holistic experience of growing a plant in a functional beautiful way.

Yoghurt pots to ECOPotagator, see it in action.

One of the biggest defining factors when working on ideas like this is to make them from recycled plastics. The ECOPotagator is made from HIPs or High Impact Polystyrene. I have been working with the team at ashortwalk who have started a great initiative to collect plastics like HIPs from people, shops and retailers to be used in new ideas. This is the source of the raw materials we use for the product. Heres some info on HIPS. We take something that otherwise maybe a threat to nature as refuse and create a product that enables you to encourage nature by growing a plant. We made it into the best experience we could for everyone whether you are an avid gardener or just want to grow a plant on your windowsill. Each one prevents the equivalent of 180 yoghurt pots worth of plastic reaching landfill. It takes a lot of work to achieve this and I hope you like what we have come up with. I will keep you informed of what we get up to with this product in future posts as I will be using them in my own home for year round indoor growing.

A pea shoot beginning to grow in an ECOPotagator.

Anyone who is using one, it would be great to see what you have been growing and where it lives in your home too! Don't forget to check us out on Facebook and Twitter too.

Until next time.

Thanks for reading.

Noel

Posted in breezy, design, eco, ECOPotagator, garden, grow, GYO, pot, potagator, recycle, summer

Growing Paynes - The Quest for Efficient Plants

Posted on July 16, 2014 by David Payne | 0 Comments

I got my plants into the greenhouse. Straight away the technical part of my brain realised that I have all of this information, a massive resource bank online for how I could make my green house more efficient, more so what was key was doing it on a constrained budget. This completely suited me though, I have always enjoyed hacking things together and using things I have laying around to fit a purpose that would be more effective in something else. It's something I must have gotten from my Grandfather and Dad, they were both mechanics and were perpetually creating all sorts of things to fit purposes they were most definitely never intended for.

Water charges are coming into Ireland over the next year or two. There has been a lot of talk over water conservancy because of it, as well as the fact that in Ireland it is a commodity that is undervalued and under utilised because of it's abundance, it rains a lot here. With all of the buzz around the topic I think it is an area that is very interesting and something I would love to sort out for our old Georgian Era house. With that in mind a testing ground to nail down some of the finer points for water harvesting would be apt. Enter stage right my newly renovated green house. A neat little water harvesting system off of the roof and into the water butt would be perfect, then I could set up an irrigation system off of the tap and have to worry less about making sure my plants were ok if I was away for a couple of days.

I looked it all up and with the shear excitement of how achievable it all seemed, I mentioned it to Noel, who immediately started making fun of me for being a lazy gardener and missing the some of the best parts of gardening. If I didn't know him like I do I suppose it could have taken the wind out of my sails, plus I'm stubborn enough to do it and want to flaunt the results when it works out. Anyway if just as much enjoyment can be attained through the construction of the system and knowing the system is ensuring that my gardening experience is more secure, then where's the harm.

There were some things that I definitely needed get, so I ordered some small taps and hose connectors online. I started with a 15m hose I found at home, I pin pricked holes at set distances along the hose. I heated up a thick denim needle and pierced the hose, unbeknownst to me I was creating a soaker hose, that just goes to show how little I know about it all. It worked for a time but I ran into problems with it becoming blocked so I went back online and bought a 4mm drip irrigation hose instead, with hooks included to keep it away from the soil.

When the parts arrived I was like a kid at Christmas. I ripped the packaging apart and laid all of the parts out on our brushed steel table. First thing first, holes needed to be put into the green house. I drilled holes in the gutters for the taps I was fitting. I cut the glass, admittedly very dodgely in a water bath we had and some of it cracked rather than cutting, but hey that's something else to add the the experience belt. I got some U clamps and held some of the small Water butt taps I had fashioned into a drain for the gutters, I used sugru, which is like play doh that hardens into a silicon rubber to water seal it and then I attached a hose to the tap inside the green house and ran into the water butt. It works brilliantly. Next on the agenda is just to sure it up and make sure everything works as it should.

So until next time, bye for now.

Dave

 

Posted in Beginner Gardener, Breezy Gardening, Greenhouse, vegetable

Getting fed from the shed! Random acts of growing.

Posted on July 15, 2014 by Noel Joyce | 0 Comments

There has been some rain in the past week which has really brought on some of the lettuce seedlings I transplanted recently. They are doing really well and have not suffered the same fate as the iceberg lettuces I blogged about in the previous post. I have had them growing in pots which I had hanging on the side of the raised bed.

Lettuces on the edge of our raised bed protected from the wind!

The pots have provided good drainage as they are off the ground and the shelter of the raised bed has prevented any wind from whipping the little lettuces around and damaging them.

The herbs I have on the shed have begun to bloom. They have bees in and around the garden which is a good sign. Speaking of bees have you seen this story. 300,000 bees and 30 Stone of Honey!


Our shed before I put up the lettuces and herbs.

With the lettuces coming on and the herbs doing well I decided to move them to a vertical garden on the shed. It keeps them up away from pests and when watering the top plants the ones below get the drained water helping to lessen how much water is used. This has been an experiment in rotation for me. The plants get strong where they are sheltered and are then moved to the shed where they have more room to grow. I think I will employ this technique in the winter also to see if we can manage to get something growing year round. As many of the plants are in individual pots it is easy to maintain them as they can be removed easily to be worked on and then replaced on the shed.The herbs have a new home too, there are several varieties of mint as well as chives, lemon balm, curry and parsley growing in this vertical space. Some amazing smells at this part of the garden.


After I got all the pots up!

We are looking forward to beautiful fresh salads infused with herbs that are all growing in this vertical space. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and twitter to find out more up to date info. And check out the ECO Plant holder, its what we have been using to create the vertical garden.

Until next time.

Thanks for reading.

Noel

Posted in Beginner Gardener, breezy, fed, food, garden, GYO, herbs, lettuce, plant holder, salad, shed, summer, vegetable

Reflection, Inspiration and Neglect

Posted on July 10, 2014 by Louise Whelan | 0 Comments

I found the last two weeks extremely busy. So much so that I have neglected my garden, my plants and not to mention my cooking. My poor lettuce plant that had sprouted beautifully has withered and died because I did not transfer it to a bigger pot and place it outside. I am very disappointed with myself but now that I know how to grow a lettuce head from leftover food scrap, I will do it again and this time I will give it a bit more of my time and attention.
The Secret Garden (Patch)
So I didn’t successfully grow anything recently but I have been thinking more about my garden and about what I’d like to do with it. The summer evenings are encouraging me to spend a little more of my time outside especially as I spend 8 hours, 5 days a week in a small office. Spending so much time in an office has also made me think about ways that I could brighten up my small and dull office space. But that’s a story for another day.
For now let’s talk about my garden or lack of. When I was little, my Father ‘designed’ a little flower bed at the end of the garden for me, his only child. He called it the Secret Garden. This was where I was to go for inspiration or just to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. At the time, I thought it was quite funny and of course sweet but now this ‘Secret Garden’ is one of the nicest places to go and I regularly sit out there with my own daughter admiring the flowers and plants and just enjoying the peace and serenity of it all.
 
Vegetable patch
My Father loves gardening – he would spend all his free time out pottering around the place. One summer he spent a huge amount of his time out in the garden putting down three new (big) flowerbeds only to dig them all up again the following summer. I sometimes hear him complain of the hardship of cutting grass, weeding and looking after his plants and vegetables but secretly I know he loves it. He loves the responsibility of growing his own vegetables and flowers, and planting his own trees and garden hedges but most of all he loves the satisfaction of seeing them grow. I know this as he will constantly bring me down the end of the garden to show me his latest tree, hedge or vegetable that he’s just planted or that’s barely sprouted. Of course, I shower him with compliments and throw in a few ‘ooohhhs’ and ‘aahhhhss’ -  even if I can’t see the teeny tiny seed that has sprouted up out of nowhere.
Yellow Roses  
I think maybe my interest in gardening has come from over the years, seeing the enjoyment and satisfaction my father got from his gardening experiences. It was also great to have a plate of veggies on our dinner plate that my Father had recently grown. However, it took me until I moved into my own house and dived into my own gardening experiments that I began to really understand the enjoyment and satisfaction my Father feels when gardening. It’s great to think you can create something yourself and personally for me it’s an added bonus to grow something I can then eat.
Pink Roses
I may have lost myself a little in this post but after all my thinking and reflecting I know that I would like my own little vegetable garden with my very own little ‘Secret Garden’ patch. It will never be as good as the one my Father made but that’s nothing got to do with gardening – forever a Daddy’s girl and all that.
Until next time.
The 'L' Gardener

Posted in Beginner Gardener, breezy, Breezy Gardening, family, GYO, Secret Garden, vegetable

Random acts of growing. Growing peas and not killing lettuce!

Posted on July 07, 2014 by Noel Joyce | 0 Comments

Hey everyone, Noel here.

This week I found out that marrowfat peas are essentially pea seeds. Armed with this new found information I went in search on the internet to see if there was any particular way I should plant these seeds that were in my kitchen cupboard all along. Turns out they don’t have to be treated any differently than pea seeds.
What I did find out was that if you soak the peas or many other seeds for that matter that they will germinate more quickly.  So I soaked the peas and decided to grow some of them in one of the potagators in our house to see how it gets on. I have been primarily using these for growing herbs on the windowsill but want to see how something else will get on in it.

Marrowfat peas ready for planting!

I have also been growing some iceberg lettuce in window boxes outside. with exception of maybe 3 of them the rest have died off. on closer inspection i seen that the ones that had died off had suffered an odd fate. The leaves had begun to rot and turn to a brown slime. At first I thought because of the rot that the plant was water logged and I had made another rookie error. I lifted up the pot and it was not as heavy as you would expect from waterlogged soil. In fact it was bone dry underneath the foliage.

Lettuce not doing well at all!

Even though I was watering the lettuces they were not getting the water in the soil. The leaves prevented it from reaching the soil and it all got trapped in the leaves. The trapped water caused the leaves to rot compounding the problem.
Needless to say its pretty disappointing as these lettuces had managed to get to a good size.
We did get to enjoy a few lettuces, but nowhere near the amount that we should have. I have just transplanted a new batch of seedlings to pots which I have put on the edge of the raised bed. I will keep you guys informed of how it grows.

These little guys are doing much better!

Tips for not killing lettuce when growing in pots!

1. Make sure to leave enough space at the top of the pot for water to gather on the surface of the compost or soil and drain down through.
2. Water the plants underneath the leaves.
3. Try to make sure the leaves remain dry.

I will keep you updated on how our peas get on.

Until next time.

Noel

Posted in Beginner Gardener, breezy, garden, gardening, herbs, indoors, lettuce, organic, plant holder, pot, salad, vegetable

Random Acts of Gardening Broccoli being a Bully

Posted on July 02, 2014 by Noel Joyce | 0 Comments

It's been amazing weather here in Ireland for the last few weeks. We have had some really warm spells interspersed with some well needed rain showers. I have been amazed at the speed at which the courgettes have been growing. Though the courgettes or zucchinis as they are otherwise known have not been without their troubles either!
 

Flowers bloom and close in just a day!

I had originally planted 2 courgette plants in a raised bed where I can get close to them in my wheelchair. They are at a height where I can weed the bed and make sure I can take care of them so they grow well. Unfortunately I was not aware that sometimes some plants do not make good friends. There is plenty of advice about this online but of course I didn't do any research to know! My own lack of forethought as well as experience! If you have read my other posts you will begin to see a pattern appearing here. I don't know what I am doing half the time.


The Bully Broccoli that didn't get on with the poor courgettes that are just out of shot!

The courgette plants were beside 4 Broccoli plants who were having a hard enough time themselves but seem to be doing well now (we have been eating it already) see previous post. One of the courgettes looked like it was dying off so I decided to move it. I moved it to a new location away from the broccoli and it began to thrive. I haven't found any reason why this has happened as I did research online once I seen the problem. It would be great to hear from others if they have come across this. What I have learned though is that again it's about trial and error and not all info is available online for what should be planted with what. I will keep you updated on our courgette plant and how it is doing away from the Bully Broccoli.


Check out the video of the courgette flowers blooming. Literally open and close in a day! You can also eat the flowers. I didn't know that myself, you learn something new everyday.
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Posted in breezy, garden, gardening, herbs, organic, salad, summer, vegetable

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