A Visit to Seed Savers. part 1

In Gardening, Ireland, Off the beaten track., Uncategorized, willow on October 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

Whilst house sitting in County Clare last week I went to visit the Irish Seed Savers Association who are based in Scariff. Started in 1991 by Anita Hayes in Carlow they now have 8 hectares of land in East Clare. ISSA is a registered charity. They research, locate, preserve and use traditional varieties of fruit, vegetables, potatoes and grains.

Despite the wet day I walked all the land which is divided into orchards, vegetable growing areas, seed bank, Apple tree nursery and composting facility.

There is one orchard which is made up of 33 self-rooting Apple trees. When these trees have being growing for a few years they put out rooting nodules on the branches, these branches can then be taken off and planted to make a new tree.  This is the largest collection of these trees in the world.

There is also a small peaceful woodland. If you look closely you can see a group of  visiting school children through the trees.

A small pond surrounded by Willows in this quiet corner makes a lovely nature sanctuary. Actually the whole place is a sanctuary for nature as no chemicals are used on the land.

Due to the damp Irish weather seed saving here is a challenging task. Much of it is done in polytunnels.

Cucumbers are left to the over-ripe stage, they are perfect at this stage for saving seeds from as the seeds will be fully mature.

These lovely red Peppers will not grace any salad or cooking pot. They too are being grown for seeds. I was so tempted to pick one! Don’t worry I did’nt! I did however test a few Apples from the heavily laden trees!

  1. I think of myself as a seed-saver, unfortunately I’m not so disciplined at labelling.

  2. I have never heard of the Seed Savers (possibly because I have only ever visited your island for a short weekend. SS looks like a very useful place to visit. I becoming very interested in the how and when of the saving.

  3. I have never heard of self-rooting apple trees either, although It’s a fine idea for a tree to have. But it might be too easy, and one would end up with millions of trees. I am having this sort of problem with hollyhocks this very moment. Today I transplanted seedlings in the greenhouse, maybe a dozen hollyhocks, from collected seed and I don’t know where any of them are to go in spring. Chaos gardening.

  4. I love the idea of a self rooting apple orchard. So much of modern apple cultivation (here anyway) depends on selecting appropriate root stocks. Clearly apples weren’t always grown on foreign root stocks though. Glad you had a chance to try a few of the apples, I hope they were flavorful.

    Seed saving is an art and science all of it’s own. We always save tomato seeds, and some of the greens and herbs, but haven’t been serious about saving some others as we had nowhere (except the kitchen) to put them. And of course some vegetables are prone to crossing, like the squashes, and require more effort to save seed that will come true. I’m hoping now the greenhouse is up that next year we can save more of our own seed in the future.

  5. We have apple trees and we haven’t heard of the self rooting type either.Looks a great place to visit.

    • I had’nt heard of them until I visited Seed Savers for the first time some years ago. We bought one 2 years ago which is called Mrs. Perry.

  6. I’ve also never heard about such apple trees! Very interesting!

  7. seems like a lovely place to visit and doing such good work too – I must admit I have never heard of self-rooting apples, how intriguing.

  8. Hi Bridget,I firmly believe that organizations Irish Seed Savers Association are doing very valuable work. I often wish that there were more heirloom varieties of produce like apples available in stores.

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