I have just finished making a DVD (with friends from Glasnevin, Balbriggan and Lusk Tidy Towns Association,) called ‘The Wildflowers of Fingal’. As a result I have a new perspective on what we gardeners call ‘weeds’. The dandelion flower for example is an important food source for bees. Humans need bees not just for honey but more critically to pollinate many of our food plants, whether courgette and tomato flowers or clover which in turn creates meat and dairy products.
So it is good to know weeds are doing some good next time someone casts a disapproving look at your ‘wilderness’. Mind you I do like a fairly tidy garden so I can see what I need to see growing and so I can reach plants, water them and pick crops as they ripen. So I weed as necessary.
It is good to hear some agricultural advisors speak well of some deep-rooted weeds. Plants such as dock and dandelion take up and make available again nutrients which have been washed down out of reach of shallow rooting grasses and clovers etc. Dr Charles Merfield, Organic Agriculture Research Scientist when he worked in Johnstown Castle for Teagasc spoke in detail about the biological feed back systems at work in fertile soil. Roots excrete what soil needs to make food for roots. So while weeds may be a problem in one way, in another they are helping maintain a healthy soil for the plants you actually want to grow strong, tall and tasty.
Not so tall but very tasty are the radishes which I have begun to sample this week. The crisp bite and peppery flavour is undoubtably best when picked , washed and eaten fresh from fertile soil. However if I had let the weeds go unchecked, I may not have seen these new season radishes.
While I will not panic if I see a few weeds, I am geared up to keep the kitchen garden manageable and as tidy as it needs to be. I have between now and the 10th June 2010 to put my words into practice and I invite you to come then and see if I have succeeded or not.
ON THURSDAY 10th JUNE AT 7pm, THE GROW IT YOURSELF NAUL GROUP AND SOME GIY-ers FROM SWORDS AND DUBLIN ALONG WITH NEIGHBOURS ARE DROPPING IN TO SEE THE GARDEN. I’LL BE TAKING BETS ON THE NUMBER OF VISITORS WHO SAY ‘IT IS SMALLER THAN IT LOOKS ON THE U-TUBE VIDEO CLIPS’! IF I HAVE ENOUGH CUPS YOU ARE WELCOME TO A CUP OF ‘REAL TEA’ (AS PEOPLE SAY) OR SAMPLE AN AROMATIC BREW MADE FROM FRESH PEPPERMINT WHICH IS GROWING PROFUSELY UNDER THE APPLE TREE BETTER THAN ANY WEED I KNOW RIGHT NOW! CALL THE CONSTITUENCY OFFICE IN SWORDS ON (01) 89 00 360 FOR MORE DETAILS AND DIRECTIONS.