Every Irish garden, including our own, now seems to have a few Blueberry plants. They are of course very popular in the supermarkets where it costs about 3 euros for 100g. Famed for their antioxidant properties they are classed as a healthy food, which of course they are. Many seem to have forgotten about our native Blueberry, the Fraughan, Bilberry, Blaeberry or whatever other local names they carry. They are of course FREE and organic especially if you find some on a quiet road where they won’t be contanimated by car fumes. It can be hard to spot them later on in the season. They are in flower now so when out walking, especially in areas with peaty ground, keep an eye out for the small, pink, urn-shaped flowers. mark the spot in your mind and return there in late July when the berries will be ripe.
The day traditionally marked for picking the fruit was the Sunday closest to 1st August. This day had various names all over the country. In Tipperary it was called Rock Sunday as we all climbed Devil’s Bit Mountain and picked berries on the way down. Other names include Fraughan Sunday and Garland Sunday. Of course this day is a remnant of the ancient Celtic Festival of Lughnasa, Lugh was the Celtic God of the Sun.
Recently I have been hearing and reading up about growing in straw, especially good for potatoes as they don’t have to be dug just pull back the straw to harvest what you want. Always willing to try an experiment I have planted some Colleen potatoes in the big polytunnel using rushes instead of straw. Andy has been strimming the fields so no shortage of rushes.
Top with a good thick layer of rushes, or straw, water well. The theory is that as the straw rots down it provides nourishment for the growing plants. How will it do? Watch this space, I will keep you updated!