ORGANIC SMALLHOLDING IN WEST CORK

A few days ago we visited a smallholding belonging to old friends, this couple had emigrated from Belgium to Ireland in the late eighties. Back then they set up a smallholding and were soon self-sufficient. About two years ago they bought a smaller piece of land, just about one acre in size.

Being who they are, hard working people, they amazed us totally with the amount of vegetables and herbs they have growing in an already very organized garden, the one acre is totally utilized and apart from vegetables they keep hens, ducks, a cock, and goats, so they have eggs, and milk from the goats.

We found their way of life so inspiring, totally self sufficient, they are so very organized, because of yearly flooding of their land they have built raised beds, the soil they used in these beds is totally organic, there being organic waste from the goats, the chickens, and their own compost heap, and lots more go into a recipe that is excellent to enrich the soil. A local strawberry farm provides mulching material. So the vegetables and herbs grow very well, they look the picture of health.

Among one of the things that is very important to them is to save their own seeds.  They reckon that seeds saved from their own produce, and swapped perhaps with neighbours, will produce easy to grow crops.  Crops that would naturally grow well in this particular micro climate, and soils.  Some of the crops we saw were, potatoes, mais, beans, peas, broad beans, onions, leeks, carrots, spinach, oca, spring onions, asparagus, lettuce, quinoa, marrows, cucumbers, kale, broccoli, and lots of herbs, among them rosemary, oregano, chives, comfrey, milk thistle, angelica, bay leaf, mint, and so many more.  There is also a wide variety of berries that grow along the side of the acre.

There are six home-made tunnels in which the couple grow a variety from tomatoes and quinoa to millet, and all sorts of other interesting things. Along the beds the grass is kept short by guinea pigs, these do a good job. The guinea pigs are kept in specially made large wire cages, that get moved along the grass, they also have a larger cage inside, there seem to be quite a few of them, and they are looked after very well.

Use is also made of ferrets, these guys keep the rats down.

Everything has a use, there is no sentimentality at the smallholding. We shared a meal with this couple and it was delicious, all produce out of the garden, except the fish which had been locally sourced too. From the photos you can see how efficient the place looks, lots of hard work goes into it, but I think that the satisfaction one gets when all runs smoothly and the produce is great, is wonderful.

JAN & NADIA'S SMALLHOLDING

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DIFFERENCE SOURCES OF MANURE FOR THE LAND
DIFFERENCE SOURCES OF MANURE FOR THE LAND

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MY GARDEN UPDATE ~ JULY

It has been a while since I did serious work in the garden, seeing that I had not sowed nor planted anything this season, I had let the garden be for the bees and the insects, they of course took full advantage of the wilderness, and though there were not as many insects around this summer, I was still able to find some today. I had my little helper with me all day, Ruben, my grandson, came over and we both put on our wellingtons and out we went, we soon started to pull some of the overgrown cleavers away from other plants, also some of the ivy was removed. The two cold frames were totally overgrown some of the plants were pushing up the plastic and some had grown through it! Ruben, being almost 6 and a very enthusiastic worker was lifted into the frame and soon had pulled all the ‘weeds’ out, they then went on to the compost heap. We covered the earth in one of the cold frames with comfrey leaves, that will be good for the soil.

Ian came and cut the grass so we could use this for mulching as well.  We spotted quite a few insects and I am happy to say that Ruben does not mind them at all, he is just very interested in the little creatures and seems to quite love them.  Here is one beauty sitting on the flowers of a parsley plant, there were several others on the same plant.

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Then there were all these weevils, and several different types of beetles, spiders, and caterpillars, lots of woodlouse as well. And the snails and slugs could not be counted, so many.

We have at this moment quite a few of these most beautifully scented white clover growing, I sowed them last year to improve the soil and they are giving a lovely display this summer.  They will be good for the soil.  The flowers of the parsley are quite beautiful too, they seem to attract many different insects.

And so the summer is moving along, there is more work to do, is lots to prepare before we leave for Gozo in autumn, though the garden will not be unattended while we are gone as there will be people in and out of the place all the time, still, I must make sure that when we return the garden will be ready for me to start more planting.

THE CROW FAMILY

Yes, the crow family is well represented over and in our garden. They include rooks, jackdaws, and hooded crow. For the past month or so they have been very happy and today I counted two dozen in just ten minutes. We always had some crows but never as many. The reason for this much of a mob congregating in the garden is that I have changed our rubbish collection service a while back. I cancelled it. We never had that much anyway, and it was senseless to pay the standing charges when we can just as well do these things ourselves, recycle as much as is possible, use the compost heap for the rest, and only a tiny fraction has to be brought to the waste management place in Bantry or Schull.

So, coming to the crows, what attracts them in even greater numbers to the garden is that if I have food left over that needs getting rid of, or stale bread or so, I put it out there for them. Our waste does not contain meat, but if it did I believe that crows are omnivores anyway, so no worry. Sometimes I have fish skin and they even eat that, or maybe I am wrong and it is the cat next door that empties that little dish. All in all I love these guys coming around for their lunch, it makes the garden very lively for a little while, their shiny feathers beautiful in the sunlight. It works both ways, the crows get some of their food, and for me I do not have to deal with a smelly bin in the kitchen, however small.

My favourite is the hooded crow, they mostly use the fir tree at the back of the garden, even built a nest in it as far as I can see, high up. These birds, and also the blackbirds, doves, and a variety of smaller birds, bats, and insects find a fine feeding ground here in our garden, I am really happy for that. The cat next door, she comes to have a look everyday but I give her bits of food too so she won’t kill any of the smaller birds.
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Congregating on top of the shed, waiting their turn to eat, maybe.

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And more of them waiting in the birch tree closer to the house.


They sit and wait all over the place, while some of them are eating.

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And this is the hooded crow, I love these birds, they are beautiful, I am very happy that they choose our garden to nest in.

ORGANIC GARDENING IN WEST CORK

Growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and wild plants in the coastal area of the Beara peninsula where everything is very lush and producing wonderfully right now. I have attempted a small video to show some of the beauty and produce. Sorry no sound as I do not have copy right to the music that I would want to put on this video. Enjoy I hope.