At the start of June we had a planting day and were joined by the Conservation Volunteers who helped us to plant over 3,000 plants in the front section of the garden. It was hard work but we were kept fuelled by lots of tea and Kit Kats and between us all we managed to complete the job in a day. Just as we were on the final stretch it started to rain - perfect timing. Thanks to Fingal County Council for supplying us with all these plants and hopefully they'll grow into a striking border for that section of the plot.
The Conservation Volunteers very kindly came back the next weekend after that as well and helped us clear the beds around the pond in the front section as well as making repairs to the walls. They are a fantastic organisation and we're very grateful to them for all their support.
We now have our own source of water. The well that was drilled back in February has now got a pump and we can access 5000 gallons an hour it! However we currently need a generator to pump the water through to the taps, but we are hoping that long term we'll be able to find a more sustainable and eco-friendly way to generate power. I know we have had loads of rain this month but we are also getting 3-4 day periods when it's warm and dry and with so many fledgling crops planted we need a steady supply of water to tend them through the dry patches. So this is great progress for us. Again, thanks to Fingal County Council for supplying us with this much needed infrastructure item.
We're currently harvesting garlic, onions, strawberries, rhubarb, fresh herbs, broad beans and oodles of salad so our gardeners are going home with bags full of lovely vegetables.
Our potatoes are (touch wood) doing great, our brassicas and roots are planted, the Hi and Lo bed is filling up and we even have a bed given over to grains of different types including oats, quinoa and golden amaranth. The salad and permaculture beds are also full of crops and this year we are trying to introduce some companion planting which also offers a splash of colour in the shape of marigolds, sunflowers and asters.
The empty beds in the front section have been planted with wild flowers, green manure (grasses and clovers etc) and mustards which we hope will look fantastic but of course also encourage biodiversity, bees and other insects and wildlife to the garden. This year we have seen a marked increase in happy, fat bumblebees and our gardeners report that there are a few robins who assiduously follow them round the beds as they work. Gardening in the quiet summer evenings is accompanied by glorious birdsong and by building a small pond in our wildlife area, we have been able to reintroduce native frogs to the garden. The only 'wildlife' we aren't so keen on are the SLUGS which are particularly hungry and pervasive this year. However we are finding that coffee grounds liberally sprinkled around young plants does help to protect them.
We're growing peas, radishes, beans, beetroot, fennel, pumpkins, squash, courgette, cucumber, carrots, kale, cabbage, broccoli, strawberries, asparagus - you name it, we've got it!
The herb bed is teeming with chives, coriander, oregano, marshmallow, camomile, sage, rosemary, lavender, wild garlic, mint, thyme and tarragon ... I could go on.
The polytunnel is a hive of activity, full of seedlings, salads and tomatoes.
One of our members, Shane has been working on the construction of 4 raised beds and these will soon be in situ and we hope will be of particular interest to those of our members who find the physical aspects of some gardening jobs difficult. These beds are hip height and will be situated in areas of the garden which will be easily accessible by wheelchairs.
Unfortunately we weren't able to hold our seedling sale this year - it was a great pity and I know many of you were disappointed but the poor weather meant many of our plants just simply weren't ready in time and although events like this add a great bit of colour and life to the garden, we've been so busy on the day-to-day stuff there isn't much time left over for events like this. However, we will make sure there are a few events coming up over the summer to tempt you all back.
We've a great band of regulars now who keep the garden and our beautiful orchard in such great shape but we are always looking for new blood. So if you haven't been for a while, why not come and visit. We think you'll see a big change since last year. The garden is successful and thriving BUT we do need you still so please come down to us one of these days.
The garden is open weekends between 11am - 1pm, Weds/Fri between 2pm - 4pm and Thursday evenings from 7pm.