Posts Tagged ‘orchard’

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!

Off Grid Living.

In Gardening, Off the beaten track., permaculture, sustainable living on September 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Our friends Elaine and LJ live on a 7 acre smallholding about 10 miles away from us. Living the good life for about 7 years now their wooden clad house is warm, cosy and welcoming despite having no mains electricity or water, things most people can’t imagine living without.

Electricity for the house comes from solar panels and a wind turbine atop this pole. Sorry, I cut off the wind turbine, crap pic, anyway you get the idea! Water is gravity fed from a well on their own land, some rainwater is also collected.

There are 2 polytunnels for vegetables and also an orchard. Slowly this land which was only ever used as grazing for cows is being converted to a haven for wildlife. No chemicals are used here, nature rules. Elaine and LJ call their philosophy “Permaganics, a combination of organic and permaculture techniques.”

Their 2 donkeys Floyd and Bowie have the run of the land that isn’t being cultivated, about 4 acres. I think the names reveal a little about their owners musical tastes too!

 Willow cuttings planted last year have taken well, they help to divide the land into separate spaces and take up excess moisture from the ground. More will be planted over the coming Winter. Willow grows easily from cuttings planted in frost-free weather in Autumn or Winter. Here they have been formed into overlapping semi-circles to form a “fedge”.

This willow lined pathway leads to a magical woodland area. One can imagine Nymphs, Fairies and maybe even Leprachauns having their abode here. They will not be disturbed.

This pic was taken walking back to the house from the woodland.

In the orchard the Apples are ready for picking.

A Gardener’s Rambling’s!

In Bees, Gardening, sustainable living on June 14, 2011 at 6:54 am

The polytunnel is getting to the stage I really like now, everything growing like crazy, plants merging into each other. Nasturtiums self-seed profusely here, I love their bright colours and the fact that they are edible. The Peach tree has put on lots of growth, I will prune it once or twice during the Summer. Summer pruning works for Peaches, Plums and Nectarines, Winter pruning can lead to silverleaf  and canker.

In the top orchard the Bees are happily working away. Andy checked them recently and the hives are good and healthy, no spare honey yet, the weather has just been too cold and wet. Hopefully the weather picks up and we will get some honey in late Summer. Our main priority is to have happy healthy bees.

Also in the top orchard we have been extending the mulched area. Up to now an area around each tree was mulched. Last week Andy strimmed the grass, we put down lots of newspapers and cardboard, then used the strimmings on top as mulch. When the weather gets better, (fingers crossed) we intend to plant this area with Pumpkins. They are already growing on in pots in the polytunnel. It’s just too cold at night for them so far. They can run rampant here and be pollinated by the Bees.

Foxgloves are in full flower now. I am often reminded of a picture of a painting I once saw in a book, of a gnome like being wearing a Foxglove flower as a hat. The painting was by Walter Thun, husband of Maria Thun who compiles the biodynamic calendar each year. I always have that in my mind’s eye as I gaze upon a Foxglove.