Posts Tagged ‘Tacumshin’

CLOCHE MAKING WORKSHOP FOR MY LOCAL G.I.Y. GROUP – 3rd wk in March 2015

In our windy location in Tacumshin, Co. Wexford, near the south east coast, we will always be grateful to organic horticulture lecturer, Klaus Laitenberger, for running a course in Sonairte, Co. Meath, where I learned how to make strong, simple, low cost cloches. The main cost is the Enviromesh, a strong fine netting which allows in light and rain, but excludes small predators like carrot fly and cabbage white butterflies. (Available from http://www.fruithillfarm.com.)

The principal ingredients are 2 by 1 rough timber lengths, one inch hydrodare, flexible piping which plumbers use to carry pressurised water to taps, plus nails to hold it all together and some screws to improve the strength of the cloche. A drill bit for the 1 inch holes plus an electric drill are needed to secure  the hydrodare loops.  A staple-gun with long staples is needed to secure the enviromesh over the hydrodare loops.

This cloche design is not only effective, but it is ergonomic and stream-lined enough to deflect and filter the strong winds we get in these parts. There was a good turn-out of about 40 keen

Once the cloche was made, it was displayed on the table, while the meeting broke into smaller 'pods' to discuss the seasonal highs and lows of each other's gardens.

Once cloche was made, it was displayed on table, while meeting broke into smaller ‘pods’ to discuss the seasonal highs and lows of each other’s gardens.

GIY-ers recently at our local Wexford meeting in the Riverbank Hotel to go through the practical steps of making a sample cloche. If you are reading this and live anywhere near Wexford town, you’ll be made very welcome at our GIY monthly meetings on the 3rd Monday of every month at 7.30pm in the Riverbank Hotel. Worth checking out the GIY website also for seasonal tips and news of other GIY demos and meetings elsewhere. (www.giyinternational.org)

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HOEING FOR FERTILITY AS WELL AS WEED CONTROL – 2nd wk in March 2015

It may still be too cold outdoors for hoeing. Growth is not yet vigorous and the soil may still be too damp. However, in a polytunnel conditions are drier and warmer. So, while doing my organic work experience in Co. Clare with Jim Cronin, hoeing in the tunnels was all in a day’s work.

Jim asked us to hoe the paths as well as the raised beds. He explained that the loose soil on the paths can afterwards be pushed up on to the beds. This all helps to add more friable fertile soil to the beds, where it can be used by the plants being grown.

Hoeing is not only about weed control then, it also gets air in to the soil surface to spur on soil activity and plant growth.  However, the commonly seen wooden sides used to edge raised beds would stimey this path hoeing idea. I had thought about putting in wooden edges on our own raised beds in Tacumshin, when we get a polytunnel

Hoeing paths and raised beds keeps both weed free, but also shifts fertile loose soil to when veg are growing.

Hoeing paths & raised beds keeps all weed free, but also shifts fertile loose soil to when veg are growing.

. Now I have a positive reason not to go to all that trouble – thanks Jim!

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.

PIZZA PARTY WITH HOME-GROWN PEPPERS – 3rd wk in December 2014

The mild weather threw open the possibility of firing up the cob oven when friends and parents travelled from Counties Meath and Dublin for a visit to Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. The weather was not warm, however, so the wood fired oven gave off some welcome heat as the pizzas were cooking. Admittedly, most of the pizza toppings were bought in, but the bell peppers were grown in the greenhouse and some of the wood was a remnant of boughs that broke of in the storms of last February.

Lighting up a cob oven takes over an hour before the cooking heat is just right, so no point cooking just one pizza after all that trouble. Having a few guests makes it all very sociable and worthwhile. Each pizza cooks in three minutes so nobody is left waiting too long. Roll on the spring and milder weather for more cob oven cuisine

Enjoying rapidly cooked made to order pizzas from the cob oven are Áine, Barbara, Brendan and their sons with my Dad.

Enjoying rapidly cooked made to order pizzas from the cob oven are Áine, Barbara, Brendan and their sons, Ferdia and Cillian, with my Dad.

– baking bread is the next challenge!

CURING ONIONS BEFORE PUTTING THEM IN STORAGE – 4th wk in August 2014

Once the harvest-ready onions have been lifted, the damp soil needs a chance to dry off. The skin of the onions also need to dry and harden before they can be safely stored. In fine weather, the lifted onions are often just left on top of the soil for this ‘curing process’ which takes place over a week or so.

Here in Tacumshin, under pressure from young nieces and nephews, a cob oven for cooking pizzas has been built under an open and airy DIY flat roof. The paving slab floor around the cob oven is now an ideal place to lay out the onions open to sun and wind, but sheltered from the odd rain shower.

After a week or so of ‘curing’, one can rub off the dried soil from each onion, pick out any imperfect onions for immediate use and store the rest. Not sure if I’ll have time to plait all 400 onions so that they can

Curing onion harvest,  Jet Set (early), Red Baron (red) and Sturon (good storage onion) in airy dry sunny location  around cob oven.

Curing onion harvest, Jet Set (early), Red Baron (red) and Sturon (good storage onion) in airy dry sunny location around cob oven.

hang attractively in a cool dark shed. However, the main requirement is a dry well ventilated cool place. Onion bags and racks will be useful to help store this precious harvest. I know one man who stores his home grown onions under his bed!

STORING FRESH FISH IN THE FREEZER FOR WINTER USE – 2nd wk in August 2014

Certain foods just don’t lend themselves easily to even the most dedicated Grow It Yourself enthusiast – such a wild fish from the sea. In the case of sea fishing, it is generally more popular and often safer in the summer months than in the stormier wintertime.

With this in mind, we took ourselves off to Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, down the road from Tacumshin. There the boats come in with their catches of the day. If fish fingers can be sold and kept for weeks and even months in the freezer, then why not buy some of the plentiful summer fish to freeze until such a time as the trawlers are tied up when the weather is rougher?

My favourite fish is fresh mackerel. I have yet to freeze it but I am told by local shore fishermen that they freeze their surplus catch and they are happy with it when it is cooked. In general I am told it is always best to fillet and clean fresh fish before freezing. Other fish in season (apart from mackerel) at present,

Buying freshly caught fish in Kilmore Quay, some to eat, some to freeze until local trawlers are tied up due to storms.

Buying freshly caught fish in Kilmore Quay, some to eat, some to freeze until local trawlers are tied up due to storms.

includes John Dory, Bream, Herring, Sea Trout and Turbot and in September one can add Brown Trout to that list.

TAMWORTH PIGS WORTH SEEING IN WEXFORD – 4th wk in July 2014

Cultivating 3 acres in Tacumshin by hand is a far cry from the management of a small suburban garden we left behind in Balbriggan. After a while, the idea of acquiring a couple of pigs to help with excavation and weeding becomes more and more appealing.

Apart from that, pigs are fascinating to observe. At the Irish National Heritage Park here on the N11 near Wexford town, one can observe not just any pigs, but the old outdoor hardy and quite rare Tamworth pigs. Back in 1812, the Prime Minister

Normally brown, these Tamworth pigs are covered in mud during their summer moult at the Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig, Wexford.

Normally brown, these Tamworth pigs are covered in mud during their summer moult at the Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig, Wexford.

Sir Robert Peel in Tamworth, England, interbred his own pigs with an old variety he had studied while in Ireland called the ‘Irish Grazer’. The Tamworth is today considered the variety which most closely resembles the wild boar which was first domesticated as livestock thousands of years ago in Ireland.

The dense bristles of the Tamworth pig give protection from UV light except during moulting season between June and August. During this time, the Tamworth likes to don an all body mud pack both to keep cool and as a sun block. Áine and myself must keep in touch with the Heritage Park (www.inhp.com) just in case they may have a spare couple of piglets to sell in the future!