I grew up in St.Augustine, FL which is also known as the “Nation’s Oldest City.” Flat sandy beaches, beautiful bay front views and magical sunsets court the variety of tourists that come from near and far. But, what some may not know is that further inland, people grow potatoes. Some of my dearest friends growing up were farmers. I wanted to further my appreciation for them by trying to do all the preparation, digging, weeding, singing and sowing that goes into food production.
Ms.Dudley’s favorite first graders, ever.
Since my special delivery of cowshit, onions, garlic and taters are giving way in my little plot. Swiss chard, perpetual spinach, kale, swedes, basil and thyme are attempting life in the windowsill. The anxious reality that my onions and garlic won’t be ready until August will be quelled once my leafy things take off. Well, unless the hares get them first!
“I don’t believe in green thumbs, only brown ones.”-Klaus Laitenberger
Sadly, we often forget all the time and energy that farmer friends dedicate to growing real food. And instead of giving veg a go, we opt for a grassy lawn overlooking some serious garden potential. Here’s to sustainable living and super stinky garlic breath!
Garlic and Onions
Agharrow- I have been planning this garden since January when the sun was non-existent. I started with some research and now here I am getting fresh cow shit dumped gardenside.
I know now why the Irish build stone walls, well sort of. The stone border here and throughout were collected from digging out the beds. Jesus Christ. To be fair, I think all of this was fill dirt added many years ago. After a while it was great fun seeing who could hoe out the biggest rock.
Had the early potatoes chittin’ in the windowsill until a few centimeters of shoots emerged (mine are Colleen Organic). Early potatoes are more blight resistance but have smaller yields. My leeks turned leggy, but better luck next year because I don’t really like them anyways. My biggest flaw is impatience. In Ireland, it is so important to wait to sow anything because the hours of daylight are so few in the winter and sunlight scarce.
Pretty awesome when the delivery man does a shite job and your neighbor helps you out. No chance of me moving a one tonne bag of Envirogrind compost over a 3 ft wall and into the garden. The next day he dumped a load of fresh cow manure over the fence after I had mentioned interest. One of a kind, he is.
(Boring paragraph about gardening, skip to the next for the food porn) The scutch grass is still a pain in the A$$ but I am getting through it. I did break down and buy some timber raised bed kits but then realized I will still want to double dig beneath them so there’s really not much point until my raised mound beds disappoint me or I want a mini garden out the kitchen window for the hares. So far the garlic and onions are starting out nicely. I’m sure I planted the garlic while it was still cold enough, otherwise it will just grow into one giant clove instead of bulbing out, like a boss. I covered the onions with a cloche for the first two weeks which seemed to keep the birds away until they rooted.
Missing the van life a bit so were decided to cook paella (vegetarian version) outside on the portable stove. It was brilliant!
Aside from being a registered nurse and dogmom, I dabble in gardening. I have moved around quite a bit in the past three years from North Carolina, to Amsterdam and now Ireland. The pace and lifestyle in Europe is quite different from that of the States and also varies from country to country. I was a chronic “over thinker” but find it easier to relax here. In Ireland I am applying to the Bord Altranias to become licensed but life and processes move much slower. I am embracing this sabbatical and reinvigorating my love for gardening, among other things.
Last day of Nursing School!
The first memory I have of gardening was when I was a wee lass in Florida. I planted watermelon seeds in my backyard. The melons didn’t get that big probably due to lack of minding as I was quickly soiree’d into my dancing and piano lessons to care much for the fruit I had planted. In North Carolina I started a garden in the teeny backyard of my mother’s townhouse. I couldn’t believe the height of my sunflowers and definitely picked my carrots too early. I am most familiar with these hot, humid climates so moving to Northwest Ireland has become quite the challenge. Wind, tons of rain and a shorter growing season without a poly tunnel has left me scouring the library and internet for any information I can get for these typically, atypical conditions.
At the library I stumbled upon a book by Klaus Laitenberger called “Vegetables for the Irish Garden.” Klaus is a German transplant, expert organic horticulturalist who has successfully grown everything from tomatoes to ocas in Leitrum County which is the next county from me. I am planning to go to the Ardcarne Garden Center next weekend to hear him speak and get some advice. I want to go super nerd, breakdown and buy a copy of his book, have him sign it with a good luck note and get my photo taken with him. He is also the spokesperson for Soil4People, an organization that advocates soil fertility and sustainable land use. I didn’t realize how detrimental intensive farming is to the ecosystem and the soil. I am torn however. Every time I am out in my allotment ridden with scutch grass and rushes I wish for the farmer neighbor to come in with his tractor and plow through, easing my job. This quickly fades as I get so much gratification from pulling long roots of scutch from the mounds I have overturned, preparing my beds for my bounty!
By not thoroughly disturbing the land with a big ‘ole tractor or rotavator, I am giving my garden the best chance to be grown organically. Pests and their natural predators will flourish. The positives also include undisturbed earthworm channels, keeping good microorganisms and retaining healthy nutrients for my garden. In time and with some patience during my first season as a gardener in Ireland I’m hopeful that at least the Garlic will grow.
Sligo County, Ireland- I broke this hoe in a matter of minutes and got myself a Chillington Heavy Duty Hoe accordingly.