Monday, February 18, 2013

A garden discovery

It's the 1st of February and I haven't managed to make one single craft during January.  It's not because I am lazy, or lack ideas, or run up the walls with work. No! It's because this has arrived in the garden.

30 feet by 18 feet polytunnel so that we can grow some great veg to eat this year. We have had a veg garden for 5 years now but last years weather was so bad that we managed to grow nothing at all.  So after dropping big hints (well okay just right out begging) and 13 months after been promised, the polytunnel arrived. 

Right now it is home to 4 hens and  2 ducks, the plan being that they clear the ground, dig up all the grass and eat the slugs.  They are loving it and all laying giant eggs.   I have been kept busy digging the garden, weeding and sowing seeds.

I need to fill it with wonderful veg plants and as part of my search for good seed I discovered Irish Seedsavers in Scariff, Co. Clare and made my second visit to them 31st January and viewed the gardens to see what was growing and to get inspiration.

A view over the gardens
As a member I get 5 packets of seeds, 3 bags of seeds potatoes, an apple tree discount and free entry to the gardens.  Well yesterday was a cold but dry and sunny day so with a heavy coat and a pair of wellies I wandered through the gardens. Now I am so jealous. The site is on two slopes and they make the best use of this catching sun and providing shelter.  The garden is divided into different sections; orchards, terraces with vegetables, tunnels growing plants to produce seed, woodland, nursery, apairy, childrens section and loads of paths to wander through.
The orchard with old heritage varieties
Already the tunnels have salads, mixed greens, broad beans, peas and chard growing.  This gives me hope for us to have food growing through the winter months next year.  I also found some Delaware Cabbage growing in the terraces, this is a cut and come again cabbage and one I had not heard about before.  I was glad to see it growing because this is one of the seed varieties I came home with to try.
Salads growing in the tunnel
Bright coloured chard

The philosophy behind the gardern to is to save and distribute old seeds, heritage seeds and endangered seeds.  It is to keep a diverse range of open pollinated seeds. This means that left to go to seed the plants will reproduce again and again.  This is the way it happens in nature but due to hybridisation, genetic manipulation and plain greed this is not always the case with major seed manufacturers.  The benefit of open seed pollination to me is the wide variety of foodstuffs I can grow, being part of encouraging biodiversity and of course cost.  With any luck I only need to grow each seed type once and then can save my seed from year to year.  Also many seed enthusiasts are also willing to swap seed...this encourages even more biodiversity and is a great way to increase your variety of produce.  I myself have received seeds from other growers in Canada,the UK and my own family here, I am looking forward to see what they produce and how different they are to what I normally grow.  If you are interested in seed or plant swapping then seedsavers has a swap day organised on March 4th, see the details in ezine here.

Leah from Balbriggan pictured with The Balbriggan Sprout
Well, as usual I became preoccupied while writing this entry and it's now 18 Feb and I have been back to the seedsavers garden again.  This time I brought Leah, my ten year old niece.  It was Valentines day and though a cold February Day we had our first picnic of the year in the gardens.

Spot the Leah

I am sure I will make many more visits through the year but for now I need to get on sowing these seeds and chitting potatoes so we can be fed better than ever over the coming year. Along with the Delaware cabbage I also got The Irish Pea, Tipperary Turnip, Chocolate Peppers, Prague Celeriac and Black Russian Vine Tomatoes. As well as seed potatoes I got another tuber called Oca, I have never heard of this before so will be interested to see how it grows.



Fran Nee said...

You have really cool life. One day I will finish studying and get a life too. Dont forget the crafts,youd be wasted. Just find a way of doing it all. I mean, after all, your are a women!!!

Quirky Apple said...

Thanks Fran, I know that college feeling, I spent 8 years studying while working and only now finally have some time.

Anne-Marie O'Rourke said...

LoL Fran said exactly what I was thinking. What a great way to live..and yes, women can do so much. You rock!

Liga Valge said...

Hi Tracy, one day I will have polytunnel like you do. :) Weather last summer was disaster, nothing grew even in our little green house.