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Yesterday morning I went down to the polytunnel to get a few fresh tomatoes to go with our breakfast eggs, only to walk in on a group of birds conducting a daring raid. They had managed to pull a few ripe tomatoes off the plant, and were busy gorging themselves on the fleshy fruit.
It's hard to fathom, but it's already August and the seed-sowing year is almost over – this month is the last opportunity to sow seeds and marks the end of seven months of fairly intense seed sowing activity that started way back in the dreary days of February
I know that sometimes I can be guilty of hyperbole, but recently I visited a garden that I think could transform Ireland. One of the recipients of a community food growing grant from AIB via the GIY Get Ireland Growing Fund last year was the Headlands Community Garden.
Could soil be the new Prozac? This is a question prompted by a recent research study, which found that treatment with a specific soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, can alleviate the symptoms of depression.
Each month, I try and think about my seed sowing in two categories. The first category is those veg that we must sow pretty much every month to guarantee a consistent supply (without gluts) – so for example: lettuce, spinach, oriental greens, calabrese etc. Between March and August, I sow a little of these at the start of every month.
The luck of the crop rotation draw and bad design in my veg patch means that particular veg families tend to have what might be described as ‘off years’ depending on the area they are destined to spend their growing season in. There’s a particular part of my veg patch that is hampered by being simultaneously the closest to the garden perimeter and the lowest point in the garden.
I am all for taking a decent break from the veg patch in the winter months, and I do very little between late November and February. There are lots of things I could be doing if I was that way inclined, and I know of GIYers that visit the veg patch daily in those times – continuing to sow, grow and harvest despite the short days and inclement weather. I am not one of those growers.
Though we haven’t quite reached ‘hungry gap’ territory yet, I think it’s fair to say at this stage that we are beginning to pass the point of plenty as far as last year’s harvest is concerned. We still have plenty to eat in the veg patch and in stores, but things are a little scarce and some vegetables are starting to run out altogether.
I’ve tried hard to resist the charms of kale over the years, but finally, perhaps inevitably, I have succumbed. I’ve become somewhat of a kale nut. Kale suffers somewhat from a reputation problem.
I can’t confess to know a lot about beekeeping. Actually, correct that, I know absolutely nothing about beekeeping. So, one might be surprised to find a beehive in my garden. But there it is nonetheless, nestling happily in a secluded patch between my polytunnel and the hedgerow.