The hunt for red November.

Many people think of November as a very bleak month full of brown leaves, rain, mud and dropping temperatures.  We think that if you wrap up warm and head outside there is much to enjoy in nature at this time of year. We took our camera outside today to hunt for the colour red. Red is the colour of fire, passion, blood, love and sometimes in nature, danger. How much of it can we find in the West of Ireland on a grey and rainy mid November Wednesday?

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October.

Looking back at October we realize that we have spent another month mostly away from the garden. The building work inside is progressing slowly but we have also spent quite a lot of time working in and for the Ballaghaderreen Community Garden. It is a precious project, lots of fun but equally time consuming now in its early stages. 50 Kg of Daffodils have been planted by the committee and volunteers, well over 1000 bulbs and we are looking forward to the display this coming spring and for many years to come.

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Halloween fun.

Today we would like to just share a few pictures with you. Sometimes it is difficult to stay focused and enjoy the simple things in life. We are still in the middle of rebuilding three of our rooms and the house is very chaotic. Because we are building we have not been able to spend time in the garden either. So it is a bit chaotic out there as well. It is easy to feel stuck, bogged down and feel that things are not moving on as fast as you would like.

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Healthy neglect…

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Last month other commitments pulled us away from the garden. Apart from us harvesting apples, raspberries and vegetables, the land was left to its own devices for the duration of the month. On the very last day of September we walked around the different areas to get a few pictures for this blog and we realized that the land had not suffered at all in our absence. Sure, it looked a bit untidy and overgrown on the surface, but underneath it was healthy, alive and brimming with wildlife. Maybe that is the biggest lesson we have learnt from looking after and developing our land over the last few years. A forest garden, mimicked on young natural woodland but full of edible and other beneficial plants, is a very forgiving place. Nature has a marvellous way of doing what is best for the land and when you start to work with nature and not against her fantastic things can happen. We wanted more frogs, newts and other wildlife so in addition to our stream we added two ponds. Because of this the slug population is being kept small and is not the major problem it was for the first couple of years.

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Kale perfection

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Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to cook and preserve your crops in a way that everyone in the family enjoys. This year we have found ourselves with a lot of kale. This super green has numerous health benefits but is not very popular, at least in our house, when steamed or stir-fried. We have been doing some research and cooked up a few batches with different flavourings, in the hunt for perfectly crunchy, delicious kale chips. Here in Ireland they would probably be known as kale crisps though.

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Our tree house so far.

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There is something very special about having a hideout high up in a tree. You feel slightly removed from all worldly worries and commitments. You can climb up your ladder to rest, dream and spend some time suspended between the sky and the ground.  When we moved into our cottage almost five years ago, all boundaries were planted with laylandii trees that blocked out light and prevented the hazels, oaks, hollies and rowans from thriving.

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