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Monday, 14 June 2010

An Irish organic smallholding

organic vegetables, salads, fruit and herbs growing on an Irish smallholding in County Wicklow

Before we leave Ireland, I must tell you about a wonderful organic vegetable-growing smallholding I was priviliged to visit earlier this week on our press trip to Ireland. Castleruddery Organic Farm is situated on the western flanks of the Wicklow Mountains, just outside the village of Donard and not that far from Dublin. Their shop is open twice a week (see website), serving the local community, and they also have a stall once a week at Naas Farmers' Market. The owners, Dominic & Hilda King, strongly believe that food produced and sold locally supports the whole area: one euro generates twenty; for some shoppers this requires a considerable shift in thinking - but how much fresher and tastier are vegetables, salads, fruit and herbs grown within a few miles of one's home, saving on both food miles and fuel costs to reach the supermarket.

Hilda and her husband farm 15 acres of which 8 are woodland. They have one cow and seven sheep; three part-time workers all year round and three or more extra in the busy season. Polytunnels are used to fill 'the hungry gap' - that time of year in Spring when crops are in short supply. Abundant wildlife provides a natural preventative against pests; soil is kept in good heart through rotation and clover leys, and mulching with spent chicken manure.

Hilda King weeding the tomatoes in one of her polytunnels

Much of out press tour was by coach and this gave me the perfect opportunity as we travelled from south to north to record the local flora. I have a very long list which will appear in my travel journal eventually. To me, the wild fuschia (f.magellanica) has always epitomised Ireland; I did not expect to see it out so early nor in this part of the island, so took a quick snapshot of the first one we saw, thinking we might not see another. Later we spotted much better examples - I might cheat in my journal and use a photo taken the last time we visited Ireland.

Fuschia magellanica growing in a roadside hedge

If you would like to read a little more about our visit to Ireland (I appeared to be the only journalist sourcing garden subjects), take a look at my other two blogs which will outline the trip in installments. Click on links to the right of this post. Enjoy!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Cut flowers

I spotted this bouquet of flowers whilst shopping yesterday in the Ludlow Food Centre. To me they epitomise early summer, and as they are grown locally save considerably on flower-miles. We are in Ireland for a few days (or will be in a couple of hours) and I plan to photograph as many wild flowers as I can, weather permitting; garden flowers as well, if we can squeeze in a few visits.

The blues, greens, purples and yellows in the bouquet exactly replicate those I have used to edge the pages of a travel journal I a keeping whilst on our 'Irish Rhapsody' - I'll be blogging about that whenever I can access WiFi, across all three of my blogs. The sea is the colour of silk as I write on the 'Stena Adventurer'; silk in such subtle shades of green (se the alchemillia leaves above) and that of the catmint, too, plus a sort of sandy grey as the sun shines through the haze. I can visualise a sea-garden and wonder which of the many gifted designers I know could replicate what I have in my mind, using hard landscaping (not too much) and plants that do not mid salt-spray or wind. It's silly to contemplate a garden by the sea when we actually live almost in the centre of the England.