Posts Tagged ‘County Wexford’

RESCUING THE RHUBARB PATCH BEFORE MANURING – 2nd wk in January 2015

Our idealistic first year here in Tacumshin, Co. Wexford saw us plant 18 rhubarb stools. We had great hopes that the large characteristic rhubarb leaves would block out light and keep competing weed growth under control. How wrong we were! For a start, the wind here near the coast flapped the rhubarb around so much that it did not thrive.

Having been taught a lesson by nature, we erected an artificial wind break. In due course, trees and hedging will create natural shelter, we hope. As you can imagine, the weeds grew very happily in the rhubarb patch. Weeding the patch was a delicate matter as we had to avoid damaging the hidden buds on the rhubarb stools. So we chose to simply rip up the weed growth with our gloved hands, no trowels or hoes this time around.

Anyway, the patch is now recognisable as a rhubarb patch again. We have spread some well-rotted manure between the rhubarb stools. We may further mulch between the plants with thick straw or plastic. Vigilance

Áine taking a breather from hand weeding the rhubarb patch, while Stocaí Bána observes proceedings from the wheelbarrow.

Áine taking a breather from hand weeding the rhubarb patch, while Stocaí Bána observes proceedings from the wheelbarrow.

seems to be the name of the game in keeping weeds under control.

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KEY TO A HOT COB OVEN IS WELL SEASONED WOOD – 3rd wk in July 2014

Initially the cob oven is a damp structure just like a wet cement structure. After ten days of summer weather, (the warmer and windier the better,) it is time to scoop out the damp sand which gives the final cob oven its shape.

To speed up the natural drying process (as we needed to do!) small fires can be lit on the fire bricks for short periods to gradually dry the inside of the oven. This we did three times a day for a few days until we prepared dough and pizza toppings – and assembled a pizza making team of teenage nephews!

Voila - Conor Neville prepares to serve the first pizza from the new cob oven to be shared with the brothers Adam and Brian, while Áine checks on the seasoning wood supplies.

Voila – Conor Neville prepares to serve the first pizza from the new cob oven to be shared with the brothers Adam and Brian, while Áine checks on the seasoning wood supplies.

DUNCAN STEWART PRESENTS CERTS TO ORGANIC COLLEGE GRADUATES – 2nd wk in March 2014

All that hard work studying the theory and practise of organic growing culminated in a great evening of celebration at An tIonad Glas, the Organic College in Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick on Friday 7th March 2014. Comhghairdeas to all the graduates, not least to the one and only Áine Neville who managed to do the two year diploma course in just one year.  Impressive or what! Thanks to all at An tIonad Glas, Principal, Jim McNamara, Dr Sinead Neiland and the Director of Distance Learning and Course Tutor, Paula Pender, especially.

Guest of honour, Duncan Stewart, , inspired his audience, as he does so often on television, to become the change humanity needs to see take place. He passionately told the full hall that the vulnerability of our globalised food production system is creaking due to its almost total dependence of fossil fuels. Even once self-sufficient villages are now less than 1% self-reliant on food produced it their own locality. An tIonad Glas is, bit by bit, creating more resilient local food growing enterprises.

Here in Tacumshin, Co. Wexford, Áine is now making full use of the hard graft which earned her

Organic Growing and Sustainable Living diploma graduate, Áine Neville and guest of honour, Duncan Stewart of 'Eco-Eye' (RTÉ) at An tIonad Glas, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, 7 March 2014.

Organic Growing and Sustainable Living diploma graduate, Áine Neville and guest of honour, Duncan Stewart of ‘Eco-Eye’ (RTÉ) at An tIonad Glas, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, 7 March 2014.

that very practical diploma in organic horticulture. On our 3 acre holding, we are breaking new ground, cultivating what was for many years rough pasture and teaming up with other organic growers in the south east. In due course, Duncan’s vision of year round self-reliance in healthy local food will, le cúnamh Dé, become a reality region by region.

PHEASANTS CHECK OUT SAFE HAVEN IN TACUMSHIN – 1st Wk in Oct 2013

One of the associated pleasures of developing a new kitchen garden in the heart of County Wexford is the wildlife. With Tacumshin Lake and Lady’s Island nearby

Three cock pheasants playing hide and seek in the long grass where the veg patches will be.

Three cock pheasants playing ‘hide and go seek’ in the long grass where the veg patches will be, Tacumshin, Wexford.

, the birds, bees and bats favour this area in particular. The large number of wood pigeons provide ample food for peregrine falcons. The buzzards look out for rats and mice. A merlin, Ireland’s smallest falcon, has been chasing smaller birds around here recently too.

The meadow in front of the house will have vegetable beds in it soon. In the meantime, pheasants have been running through the long grass. One wonders if they realise there will be no shooting permitted over this patch come the pheasant open season which begins in November. For their sake, I hope they hang around here or on lands adjacent to Tacumshin Lake which is a Special Protection Area No. 004092.

TRUSTY GREENHOUSE TRAVELS TO TACUMSHIN TO FEED US OVER FIRST WINTER – 4th Wk in September 2013

Where do you start with three overgrown acres in Tacumshin, near Carnsore Point, Co Wexford. All around us is the home of early potatoes and rare migrant birds? A birdwatcher’s paradise.  As mentioned last week, moving from Balbriggan was not easy. Carrying a greenhouse to which I have become sentimentally attached, did not make it any easier! However it was a 50th birthday present from my Fingal Green friends and I would miss the greenhouse, as I will miss them too. However, my friends may be more inclined to visit IF ‘their’ greenhouse is here in Wexford to greet them!

Thanks to Eoin Hurley, the disassembly and assembly of the glass and metal structure was very efficiently carried out. Eoin bought cement at Maguire’s Builders’ Provider Store in Rosslare Harbour to secure

The Balbriggan greenhouse Tacumshin, Co Wexford. Step 1 in making a meadow into a kitchen garden.

The Balbriggan greenhouse Tacumshin, Co Wexford. Step 1 in making a meadow into a kitchen garden.

the greenhouse legs in place. The greenhouse is now ready to grow our winter greens and nurture early sowings of peas in pots etc for planting out next spring. Cuttings of hedging like box and herbs like curry plant are also cossetted under glass, until they root. The greenhouse is like a little Fingal embassy in the heart of County Wexford, and like me, it has been made very welcome!

Next week, the lay out of the outside vegetable beds will start to take shape. At present, we are waiting for a delivery of horse manure from stables nearby in Killinick. After that let the barrowing of numerous loads begin!

NEW ‘TREVOR & ÁINE’S KITCHEN GARDEN’ ON 3 ACRES – NEW CHAPTER – 4th Wk in September 2013

After 25 years developing and enjoying ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ surprising myself how much one can grow in a small space, the time has come to move on. The chance to buy a house on 3 acres has come up in Tacumshin, County Wexford between the birdwatching ‘Mecca’ of Tacumshin Lake and Lady’s Island Lake. The puffin paradise of the Saltee Islands is visible from the house as are the wind turbines of Carnsore Point. The 3 acres has some hedgerow and trees planted but the rest was rough grazing, with no chemical inputs for years, if ever.

The challenge for Áine and myself is to transform this ‘blank canvas’ into a diverse organic horticultural holding. There are already some old apple, pear, plum and quince trees planted

After all these years, the solitary  organic James Grieve apple tree has generously yielded a tasty crop every year without fail.

After all these years, the solitary organic James Grieve apple tree continues to generously yield a tasty crop every year without fail. Picture courtesy of Richard Johnston Photographer

so we are not starting from the beginning entirely.

To buy this house and smallholding in Tacumshin means unfortunately selling the original ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ to pay the bills. Anyone interested in buying a handy house, close to train, bus, schools, library, shops etc .? You can be fed from the uniquely certified organic garden and heated by a wood stove and solar panels, topped up in winter by natural gas heating?

Meanwhile, one of the two greenhouses in the garden is coming to Tacumshin. Next week I’ll blog about the challenges of dismantling the  glass and metal frame and erecting the Fingal Greens’ famous greenhouse nearby. With protected cropping, even on a small scale, we should have fresh oriental greens and salads for our first winter in the ‘sunny south-east’.