Tuesday, 22 May 2007


Photo: Organic macademia nut farm.

Last week my family and I went to the open day of the garden at Scoil Iosagain in Buncrana. We unfortunately missed the ceremonial cutting of the tape, as my eldest lad was at Tullyarvan mill, performing a musical story with all the other children that have attended the recent music class. (There’s another class in the summer holidays if you missed it this time) It’s typical that we haven’t been invited anywhere this summer, then two functions fall on the same evening. When we arrived at the school I headed straight for the tea and sandwiches. It had been hot in Tullyarvan mill and I hadn’t had any food for well over half an hour so I thought I’d tuck in while the going was good. (I regretted this a bit when we went for a few rides on the fair afterwards) Anyway, with cup and plate in hand I headed for the garden. The garden is well protected from the elements by an eight-foot high wall and a lot of voluntary work has gone into both the hard landscaping and planting. Scattered around the garden are interesting clay statues made by classes at Tullyarven mill. The garden is also dotted with bright and cheerful clay tiles and ladybirds made by children at the school. There is a good-sized rockery that is well planted, with a small stream running down the middle. The water runs into a pebble filled pond, so it is safe for the children. Dinny McLaughlin and his friends were playing traditional music on the patio and occasionally a group of girls would get up and have a dance. These unfortunately were only a temporary feature, but I think I’ll include them in the next garden I design! I was pleased to see an area set aside for organically grown vegetables, the onions and spuds are all coming on well but the ground is a bit hard for the carrot crop just yet so they’ll probably try growing these in deep containers for a while.

What is Organic?

The organic approach to gardening and farming recognises that the whole environment in which plants grow is much more than the sum of it’s individual parts, and that all living things are inter-related and inter- dependent.

Organic growing involves
Treating the soil and growing environment as a resource to be cared for for future generations, rather than for short term gain.

Providing plants with a balanced food supply by feeding the many creatures that live in soil, manure and other organic material.

Choosing renewable resources, thereby creating a sustainable future.

Reducing pollution of the environment, by recycling garden, household and other waste, rather than dumping or burning them.

Combating pests and diseases without using pesticides that may prove harmful to human health and that of domestic and wild animals.

Encouraging and protecting wildlife, by creating suitable habitats and by minimizing use of harmful pesticides.

Creating a safe and pleasant environment in which to work and play.

Moving with the times – taking new scientific discoveries into account, as well as the best traditional knowledge.

Using good horticultural practices.

Recognising the importance for the preservation of threatened plant varieties.

The whole garden – flowers, trees, shrubs and lawns, as well as vegetables, fruit and herbs.

(from the Henry Doubleday Foundation).

Great reasons to grow your own organic fruit and vegetables

You can grow things without pesticides.
It means your food is free of any genetic modifications (G.M. free)
Homegrown food is cheap and nutritious.
You can decide what the family eats.
Your food will be truly local.
You can grow things that you can’t buy in the shops.
You can grow for flavour; commercial growers tend to grow for a long shelf life in the shops.
Children learn where food really comes from.
You’ll get plenty of fresh air and exercise.

If you haven't grown any vegetables before, start with a few seeds of salad plants such as lettuce. They will grow happily in a pot and you can pick the fresh leaves, as you need them, leaving the plant to grow on. Keep them well watered. If you want to involve children, mustard and cress seeds can be sprinkled onto tissue or cotton wool placed in a saucer, watered and left on the windowsill. Don’t throw the shells away after you have had a boiled egg, fill them up with soil and sow the mustard and cress seeds into them, paint a face on the egg and within a few days you will see the hair begin to grow!


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