Drawing a graph at my talk in the Organic Centre to show how human population growth has relied more and more on fossil fuels (since 1909). To feed humanity in a post oil world, town and country folk must grow more food.
A long standing invitation to speak at the annual Garden Party in the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, led to a very enjoyable visit there this week. Last Sunday, in fact. A programme of workshops was both entertaining and informative. The legendary Hans Wieland gave tips on growing a year round supply of salad leaves. For good health, he suggests a salad starter before a meal to help the body prepare for digesting the substantial food to follow in the main course.
Big supporter of the Organic Centre, local TV chef, Neven Maguire undertook a full cookery demonstration in a packed barn. Neven is a master of multi-tasking, as he can talk and cook at the same time … not a common male trait, speaking personally! His famous family was there too, much to the delight of the crowd, Amelda and the twins, Conor and Lucia. The sun shone.
Before Ingrid did her composting demo and Gaby Wieland did the herb workshop, I was asked to do a gardening presentation in the context of future food security. In effect the presentation was a blatant plug for the book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ which is almost sold out – must print more! However, as proceeds from the book sales are going to help SEED (Sustainable Earth Education Development) network, of which the Organic Centre and Sonairte etc are members, the audience was very generous in relieving me of a box of books. Must get on to www.orpenpress.com to see how many copies are still in stock.
Pea, beetroot, sunflower, courgette, leek seeds all thriving on one of the greenhouse side shelves.
Last year, I had no greenhouse, this year I do. The compact 6 by 6 foot structure has two side shelves at chest height which hold seed sowing trays and pots, thus increasing the range of plants in the garden I can bring on from seed at any one time.
Some of the opened seed packets (first used in 2009) I finished off by sowing the remaining seeds in them. I am pleasantly surprised that most have done really well. The 2009 Sugar Dwarf Sweet Green Mange Tout Pea (what a mouthful!) has given me a 100% germination on the tray of seeds sown, bought from the Organic Centre www.theorganiccentre.ie. However Cosmos grown as beautiful tall daisy like multi-coloured flowers gave very patchy results from the 2009 opened seed packet. But excellent germination from the Lettuce Baby Leaf Mix 2009 packet, not 100% mind you.
Folks with bigger gardens may want to do more direct sowing outdoors now. My small patches are all occupied still with last years plants like purple sprouting broccoli or simply with piles of organic matter, hedge clippings etc waitung for me to shove in to the empty compost making brick box. Therefore almost all fruit, veg, herb and flower seeds are being sown in pots or trays in the greenhouse first, before transplanting outdoors in a couple of weeks.
The only direct sowing outdoors I have done is radish and carrot seed. Minimal root disturbance is the rule-of-thumb for all plants with ‘carrot-like’ roots. To withstand slug attacks, either use nemotodes, organic slug pellets, stand guard all night with a torch (not a serious suggestion!) or protect the seedbed by covering it with dry smashed up egg shells. A combination of these and other options seems to be working for me. I have not yet had to eat my own words, as written in the new book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden (www.orpenpress.com) on the many proven ways of avoiding slug and snail predation. If you have bought a copy, I hope you are enjoying it. It is selling well which is good news for SEED the school gardening charity. The SEED organic centres are currently preparing an impressive garden and stand for the BLOOM festival over the June bank holiday.