At Balbriggan Fish & Farmers’ Market, Joe O’Brien, the North Fingal Green Party rep meeting local shoppers for coffee & a chat.
The idea occurred to me at the last Christmas themed Fish and Farmers’ Market in Balbriggan for 2012, that decorating wreathes and houses with ivy makes sense because it grows so prolifically in Ireland. Holly grows here of course too, but it is not nearly as common as ivy. With the amount of spare ivy growing in my little garden alone, I have used lengths of ivy to decorate at home and in church. The pulpit in St. George’s Church, Balbriggan, now looks like it is taking root!
Down the road in George’s Square, at the Fish and Farmers’ Market, the discussion turned to wreathes, made by Zee in Sonairte for sale at the market in aid of this popular ecology centre near Laytown train station. The wreathes consisted of vegetation which grows in and around the organic walled garden which includes some holly – lucky Sonairte. Anyway I am sticking with the ubiquitous ivy as green decoration and after the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan 6th, the bits of withering ivy can end up in the compost and return to the natural order of death and re-birth. Nollaig shona / Happy Christmas!
With guests invited for Christmas, the prospect of depending on the few leeks, carrots, onions and herbs from the garden, to create the meals I had in mind would have meant very small helpings. So thankfully the Balbriggan Fish and Farmers’ Market was open late before Christmas to allow me augment my larder with fresh local produce. As a result nobody went hungry or cold for that matter.
My wood store (Photo by C.Finn)
Staying warm during the coldest Christmas in fifty years was hard for many people. The time and effort spent building a lean-to wood store in 2008 really paid off during this cold spell. The small Pioneer wood-stove was kept piping hot with well dried and seasoned logs.
As the stove opening is ten inches wide, I had to split some of the logs. Having a small garden does curtail the manly swinging of an axe mind you. This is not the Rockies or even the Bog of Allen after all. However a combined effort with axe and lump hammer did the job just as well.
The collection of prunings from winter 2008 served very well as the ‘cipíní’ to get the stove fired up. Indeed these ‘cipíní’ need to be used up otherwise I will be short of space to store the prunings which I will shortly be gathering from the apple, blackcurrants, raspberry canes and even the rowan trees in the front garden.
Meanwhile no shortage of wood ash but that has its uses too.
Not much time for gardening with late Dáil sittings. I just about manage a few minutes in the garden to bring vegetable, fruit and kitchen paper waste out to the compost tumbler every couple of days.
I notice the garlic cloves sown a couple of weeks ago are sprouting and the green shoots of new growth are evident. (A good omen for the ‘green shoots of economic recovery’, let us hope!). This is the last Thursday of Dail sittings for 2009 and the Party Leaders and An Ceann Comhairle have exchanged Christmas Greetings. It is time to turn attention to the Christmas Tree at home.
For eleven months of the year a miniature fir tree grows away slowly beside the raspberry canes under the apple tree in the back garden. Now is the time to take a spade, dig around the tree doing as little damage as possible to the roots, and transplant the whole tree (rootball and all) into a clean black bucket.
The tree is now ready for a sojourn in the sitting room window, suitably decorated and lit up for the Christmas season. After Nollaig na mBan on January 6th it will be replanted in the garden. While most of us head home for Christmas, this fir tree heads indoors for a holiday. Each to their own.
Meanwhile, time to put on the kettle, stick a log on the fire and have a good look at a couple of seed catalogues. Nollaig shona duit.