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Thurles
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5°C
real feel: -3°C
wind speed: 7 m/s WSW
sunrise: 8:36 am
sunset: 4:16 pm
 

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What Has Five Hearts, No Eyes, Ears Or Teeth

They have five hearts, no eyes, no ears and no teeth, but one large one of the species can produce four to five kilos (9 to 11 lbs) of valuable fertiliser in just one year. They are hailed as the “intestines of the earth”, and according to my late dear grandmother, Eliza-Jane, the organic matter they produce becomes, “the mother of a healthy nosebag”.

They will wander unto Tarmacadam surfaces in search of leaves and breathing through their skin, you can find up to 1,000,000 of them living invisibly in any one-acre field. Back in 1881 Charles Darwin, the English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution; in a statement wrote: “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”   They are “more powerful than the African elephant and more important to the economy than the cow.”

I speak of course of the lowly earth worm, to which the poet William Shakespeare in his play ‘Hamlet’ (Act 4, Scene 3) shows he was well aware of their capable transformative power, “A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.”

There are some twenty-seven species of earthworm to be found recorded as existing here in Irish soil. They burrow beneath the ground, consuming through their digestive system, micro-organisms, decomposing organic matter such as roots and leaves, sand grains and soil. As a result, vital minerals and nutrients are added to the soil, making it healthier and richer.

In previous generations; long before our more acquired knowledge of agricultural science, the ancients knew well when to plant crops. They understood that when the ground is cold, earth worms bury themselves deeper to avail of warmer soil, thus granting the farmer / gardener information on the temperate of the soil, prior to sowing.

Flatworms

Alas, back about 1963 we saw the first arrival of the New Zealand flatworm, (Arthurdendyus Triangulates) first recorded in Northern Ireland. It took scientists until around 1983, to discovered a possible link between low earthworm populations and the presence of flatworms. Since then, it has been established that flatworms; which inadvertently arrived here through nursery imports of potted plants from abroad, is an aggressive predator of our native earthworm. In recent years same have been widely recorded in the Republic of Ireland, especially in Co. Mayo, and now established, they are beginning to migrate slowly onto adjacent land.

Studies show that when the flatworm locates an earthworm near the earth’s surface, it secretes a digestive juice which in turn will dissolve the earthworm into a kind of gooey soup, which the former then digests. Once the flatworm becomes established, the native Irish earthworm population will be annihilated.

Earthworms are most definitely a gardeners friend and are vital to healthy rich soil, so for this reason always use a garden fork, rather than a spade, when digging to reduce cutting them up when turning over earth.

Finally, tread softly, because you may be treading on your best friend, and when next time ‘the wife’ refers to you as “a miserable little worm”, do feel complimented 😏.

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Daffodil, The Flower Symbolizing Friendship

“And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.”
[Extract from the poem “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth.]

The season of Autumn 2017, here in our Northern Hemisphere, truly began just 9 days ago, on Friday, 22nd September at 9.54pm, and will come to an end on Thursday, 21st December 2017, as the dark winter days once again emerge.

But fear not; remember the words of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley “O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”; so, let’s forget about winter and prepare for spring.

Later, towards the end of this month, will be the time to plant spring flowering bulbs, like the Crocus, Snowdrops, Bluebells and Tulips; but right now, is the best time to plant those Daffodils with their wonderful characteristic six petal-like sepals, surmounted by their trumpet-shaped corona; the flower that symbolizes ‘Friendship’.

Among the earliest blooms to appear in our Irish spring; Daffodils have been around for a long, long time, getting mentioned as far back as two hundred years B.C.. Indeed, it was a group of Englishmen in the early 17th century who plucked the Daffodil out of the windflower category; positioned it firmly, because of its charm, for inclusion into our domestic flower garden and rockery.  Originating in Spain and Portugal, the Daffodil bulb, thankfully, was brought to the British Isles by the Romans, who foolishly believed that the sap from Daffodils had certain healing powers; alas the sap contains crystals that in some cases can irritate the skin.

When sowing Daffodils note that unlike some other bulbs (e.g. Tulips, Garlic), they do not require to be refrigerated. Each should have at least 2 to 3 inches of soil cover (deeper in sandy soil) and be planted a minimum of 4–5 inches apart over the next week, before really hard ground frost materialises.

After a Daffodil has finishes blooming, it still requires its foliage to gather and store energy for the following year’s bloom, so do watch the video shown above and remember if you want beautiful blooms next year, do not cut them back until the green of their foliage has fully disappeared, (usually late May or June). You can remove the spent flower head, but do remove the leaves.

You will observe from year to year how densely packed your Daffodils have become, so it is recommended that in June about every 5 years, that you grant the bulbs a little more growing space. Once finished blooming and when their leaves have turned brown, do dig them up and divide them by carefully plying them apart from one another, keeping their remaining leaves attached. They can then be replanted, as stated earlier with 2 to 3 inches of soil cover, 4–5 inches apart, or washed and dried by hanging in, if needs must,  ladies panty hose, or an onion sack (if you can locate same from your local greengrocer), in a cool, airy location, until they are ready to be replanted. Remember, Mulch can be tremendously beneficial when growing Daffodils, so do not dump all your tea leaves, coffee grinds, tree leaves, grass clippings, sawdust etc in your brown bin for removal by your recycling company.

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A Gardeners Friend – The Great Tit

Often misidentified as a Blue Tit or Coal Tit; one resident bird species, always welcome in our gardens here in Ireland, is the Great Tit, latter one of our top-20 most widespread of garden birds.

This shy, often non easily trusting little residents, is welcomed by gardeners since it lives on a diet of mainly insects, seeds and nuts. By using a peanut feeders during the winter months and food scraps on a bird table, this black-headed and largest of the tit family, will remain a constant visitor.

Word of warning, especially regarding the use of peanuts, fat and bread at nesting time, since these foods can be harmful when adult birds are feed their young. If you must put out peanuts in Spring and Summer, only do so in tight mesh feeders that will not allow sizeable pieces of peanuts to be removed, thus avoiding the risk of baby chicks choking.

The Great Tit is easily identified with its striking black head and large white cheek patches. Also a distinct black band can be easily spotted runs down the centre of its bright yellow breast. When perched viewers can observe a distinct white bar on both wings. Its bill is pointed but nevertheless stout for its size, while it stands on legs which appear bluish-grey in colour.

Its typical chirp, sounds like “teacher, teacher” and or ” tew, tew tew” with often repetitive variations.

The Great Tit breeds throughout Eire and will nest in cavities in trees or stone walls and are known to choose unusual nesting sites such as pipes or even letterboxes. Where silence prevails, it will readily use man manufactured nest-boxes.

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Thurles Sky’s Hide Strawberry Moon

Thurles Sky watchers should have had a chance to catch a glimpse of the full “strawberry moon” tonight Friday, June 9th;  the sixth full moon on the 2017 lunar calendar and the last full moon of the spring season in the northern hemisphere.

Alas, our Tipperary skys are clouded over and presently, to use the old Irish phrase describing heavy rain showers, “Tá sé ag caitheamh sceana gréasaí,” or translated from the Irish to English: “It’s throwing cobblers knives.”

Tonight’s moon should have been the smallest looking moon of 2017, as it will be the furthest distance from the Earth when it reaches its fullest phase.

Often referred to as the strawberry moon in warmer climates, because June in some areas is the prime month for harvesting strawberries. Here in Ireland, my late Granny always referred to this moon as the ‘Rose Moon’, viewing with such pleasure her climbing, rambler ‘American Pillar’ roses which she had nailed, over the years with leather straps to the stables south facing timber wall. She would smile when asked where she had acquired it; replying, “I borrowed a slip from a friend.”

Perhaps, if you don’t get a chance to see this full strawberry or rose moon tonight, do check it out tomorrow night (Saturday June 10th), when the potential clouded sky’s over Thurles may be more revealing.

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Enhancement and Painting Schemes 2017

Liberty Square, Thurles.

Thurles & Templemore Town Enhancement and Painting Scheme 2017

Tipperary County Council are seeking to improve the streetscapes of the towns of Templemore and Thurles. This is being done by supporting the owners of properties through improving and enhancing their premises and public areas generally; through painting or undertaking other general improvements to the fronts of Commercial and Residential buildings, e.g. Erection of planters; floral hanging baskets, or indeed other environmental improvements.

Generous Maximum Grants:
Up to 50% of the approved cost of any such work undertaken (subject to a maximum of €500.00), will be grant aided.  Note: Priority will be given to applications by owners of property that are visibly in dire need of maintenance, in order to further prevent them from becoming and or indeed continuing to remain derelict.

Grant Application forms are available to download from www.tipperarycoco.ie.  Further queries can be directed to Mr Noel McCormack, Tipperary County Council, by email to noel.mccormack@tipperarycoco.ie or by Telephoning (0761) 066062.

Completed Applications should be clearly marked “Thurles/Templemore Town Enhancement & Painting Scheme 2017” and returned to Ms Deirdre O’Shea, Acting District Administrator, Tipperary County Council, Templemore / Thurles Municipal District, Castle Avenue, Thurles, Co. Tipperary by 4.30pm on Friday 30th June, 2017.

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