I'm co-teaching on it, along with Suzie Cahn of Carraig Dulra and a host of experienced guest tutors. It's a two week immersion and (potentially life changing!) adventure in to using Permaculture in community, nature and design in all contexts. Highly recommended as an invaluable experience for anyone working towards a sustainable land or community based project in town or country! Please have a look at the website for more details about what's involved in the course and how to book places and I'd also appreciate if you would share the poster and link in any other similar interest groups -Thankyou!
I'll be leading a one day introduction to Permaculture design, mainly focussing on Gardening, in the Organic Centre, County Leitrim, on Saturday June 8th.
We will be covering topics such as:
Observation skills -microclimates, natural patterns & how to work with, rather than against them,
Efficient garden design & layout -small space, least effort, maximum production,
Perrenial planting possibilities - Vegetables, Herbs & Fruits,
Forest gardens -exploring the centre's mature demonstration forest garden
Other essentials -integrating water, nutrients, compost, leisure, access, etc
The day will be a relaxed, informative, participatory Introduction to how using permaculture in our gardens.
You are welcome & encouraged to bring along maps, photos & sketches of your own garden for us to consider.
This course can only be booked through the Organic Centre website
What a weekend! Yet again the Roscommon Lamb festival kicks off the festival season in style, bringing artists, food producers, comedians, chefs, sportspeople, historians & all kinds of local culture out of the woodwork & into the open to be shared & celebrated. The town was buzzing with people in & out of the craft village, wool craft hands on space, down to the park to see the ram racing & global kitchen (lamb based of course!), Roscommon Brazillian BBQ feast & live music through night(s) & so much more...
The G.I.Y pop-up container garden brought the town square to life for the weekend, Klaus Laitenberger opened the garden/car park! on saturday morning with a talk & Q&A, & We added a touch of Permaculture to it with a micro forest garden on a pallette, a herb tower & a no dig demonstration, check out some photos on the gallery page...
Great to see the RAM out & about again this year - Roscommon Alternative Money, a local currency which could be exchanged for all kinds of offers around the town....
My personal delight of the weekend was discovering that Geraldo Marques, -aka Toko, of Roscommon/Brazil has now added shoe making to his extensive list of talents, beautiful handmade leather shoes, custom designed & made at no more cost than you would pay for a mass produced shoes from a high street store...
I'll be giving a short introduction to permaculture talk at Roscommon G.I.Y group meeting, Thursday 25th April, 7pm in Gleesons townhouse, Roscommon town.... All welcome, a chance to get a little tiny taste of what Permaculture is all about whilst networking with other people who grow food & do other interesting things besides....Do join us if you're in the area :-)
Just back from a lovely gathering of gardeners in Knockvicar, Co. Roscommon. 'SEED KEEP' is a cooperative network of gardeners & growers who will be growing & sharing seed together.
Thanks to a wonderfully organised Wayne Frankham, each of us will be guardian of a couple of seed varieties which we will grow in our gardens this year. Each variety has at least two growers so all the broad beans are not in one basket so to speak (permaculture principles: multiple sources!). We will each observe & note certain characteristics, harvest the seed & return it to the community seed-pool which will be accessible by any member of the group -fairshares & free seeds!
I love this group, a simple, sociable & practical way to an abundance of locally adapted seed. Coming together in this way also forges new connections between people & strengthens that holy grail of community resilience! It feels empowering to be a part of a network of do-ers, Rather than moaning about what seed companies do & don't do, we can get together, have some fun, & create our own possibilities...
& with that, looking forward to sowing the swiss chard & crimson flowering broad beans that I took responsibility for, -we do get to eat some too!
“I'm a Londoner through & through, but in a city of 8 million people you need things like this to keep you sane”
So says one of the group at the May Project Gardens, in Morden, South London. In this tiny (0.028 acre!) plot, today there's 8 people plus others coming & going throughout the afternoon, all bringing their experiences, skills, joy & reflections on life, from different cultures, into a small back garden & a shared vision of an abundant & trusting way of life.....
The whole project is a testimony to well applied Permaculture design. The garden itself is made up of small intense growing spaces, a small polytunnel, herb spiral right outside the back door, various quick return composting systems, tool shed, central meeting space, & even a fair sized forest garden! The day I joined them, people were working on the construction of a compost toilet & a meditation/chill out pond area. (not in the same breath!)
One central aim of Permaculture design is to have the minimum intervention on the landscape, to minimize our footprint & leave more space for 'zone 5' that untouched wilderness.
In many urban areas, like the tiny & inspirational community garden at Blarney Park, Dublin city, space efficient design is a core principle.
Community gardens in the city are fantastic little oasis' of calm! And concentrations of ideas, food production, learning, sharing knowledge & skills, socialising, celebration, connecting together & much more besides.
I spent Saturday onsite with the Blarney park crew for a permaculture design workshop. Our basis was that the design would be limited only by the imagination of the designers...ourselves! So with some simple Permaculture patterns & design tools, & a group of focussed & creative individuals, we clarified the group vision for the project, observed micro climates & resources on site (delightful south facing walls!), brainstormed heaps of ideas suggested by some key permaculture themes, & sketched up a draft plan for the first phase of the site works.
Some Key themes we explored were....
Throughout the summer people have been asking how the Quinoa has been getting on, Well harvest is here so the results are in....
So, notes from the beginning:
Back in Spring I got a tiny packet of Organic seed from Seed Savers, I sowed it in modules in the polytunnel, think it was around early March.
They germinated well & I planted them out when they outgrew the modules.
Some went in a raised bed in the polytunnel -well manured, about 1 foot spacings. Once all frosts were passed, the others went out into a garden bed.
The Polytunnel crop grew well over 'summer', I gave them plenty of water & the occasional nettle/comfrey tea. They reached a height of about 6 ft by autumn displaying lovely abundant heads of seed!
The outside crop suffered an initial set back from a surprise chicken attack, leaving only about a 3rd of the original 5x1m bed. Thanks to the year that was in it they also recieved alot of heavy rain. And I also had them in a space which was fairly shady. I had them netted so I'm pretty sure the birds didn't take many but even so it was slim pickings. As far as I could determine, autumn came & went & they barely set any seed. So no joy there.
The polytunnel crop on the other hand having no chickens to deal with & a cosy warm & sheltered environment have cropped out at about 100g dried weight per plant. To get an idea of what that means, check a packet of quinoa in your kitchen/shop, Quinoa from the shop generally comes in 500g packets. So in this instance, I would need 5 plants in the polytunnel to get a packet full.
Unlike many grains such as oats for example, the quinoa seed, which is the grain part that we eat, doesn't grow in a husk, so it's relatively easy to harvest, I cut whole heads & left them on a cotton sheet on a wire mesh hanging in the tunnel. -Off the ground so the mice can't get them! Then rubbed them between my hands, & out come the seeds. What the seed does have though is a saponin (soapy) coating which is really bitter & needs to be washed off before eating. A combination of rinsing & changing the water during cooking does the trick. You'll tell by the colour of the water -the saponis turn it brown. When it runs clear it's more palatable.
From the little tiny experimental crop here in the polytunnel (about 15 plants) I'll have harvested 1.5 -2kg.
I'm pretty happy with that, I've saved some seed for next year, & I'll be trying it outdoors again too. I reckon if we had a bit more of a generous summer, no chickens, & a more sunny situation within the garden it might do ok. Also I believe there are loads of varieties of Quinoa so I'm also going to do a little research to see if maybe some other variety might be happier here. Comments welcome!
Leaves are very obliging, collecting themselves along the sides of the lane. I'm using them to cover ('mulch') the vegetable beds over winter. They'll break down & add nutrients & organic matter into the soil by spring. Covering the soil prevents too much nutrient leaching during the wet winter months, it keeps the beds mostly weed free ready for spring planting, & acts as a blanket over the soil moderating the temperature so any plants that stay in the ground over winter will be more comfortable & soil life will be more active.
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