A MEETING OF GIY (Grow it Yourself)

Tonight was the first meeting this spring of the local GIY group in Skibbereen, the town where I live. It was well enough attended and all those there shared some of their own wisdom and garden lore, this made the meeting very interesting and motivating. One of the persons had issues growing coriander and was looking for tips on how to succeed, one of us suggested that he would start showing the seeds straight away, saying that February, is the ideal time to sow coriander because of the short amount of daylight still at this time, and to sow the seeds against a North facing wall. Another person brought up growing basil and yes of course it is not easy to grow basil here because of the climate. There was advice about growing blight resistant potatoes, I was actually surprised that blight is still a problem in these days. There was chat about growing more flowers to facilitate the bees. I brought up the question about trees, should we be growing fruit producing trees, or should we stick with the decorative trees. I am leaning very much towards taking down our larger trees and growing apple or pear trees instead, but the jury is still out on this. Another person said she was looking for ideas to use in the school where she works, for the children. Then there was the person who was disappointed that her rhubarb had disappeared, she was given advice to try and use Rock phosphate but to keep it away from the leaves, other advice I heard was to use fishbone meal and to scatter that around the soil to improve the growth of sweet peas, and lots more.  I think of course we need to use discretion, but also to remember that some of these people are well seasoned gardeners and vegetable growers.

The link to the GIY website is:
http://www.giyinternational.org/
But before all this we had been shown a video about the ‘Incredible Edible West Cork’ initiative, this is an initiative where the community is encouraged to grow vegetables anywhere they find a space, be it in containers, in corners, along roads, little plots, elderly peoples gardens etc… and the food produced should all be for people to take away free, it is a lovely initiative and actually all the participants in the meeting showed enthusiasm for this idea.

A link to their site: http://westcorkgardentrail.com/incredible-edible-west-cork/

We also discussed our local community garden and how we see the new growing season, volunteers were requested for a variety of jobs, including taking school groups and showing them around and helping the children to help with the garden work. We were told that last year children grew potatoes there and each child went home with a couple of potatoes at the end of the growing season which of course is lovely and a great encouragement to these kids.

We finished up the night with swapping seeds, and sowing some, and of course more chatting about seeds and growing…

It was a very enjoyable and inspiring meeting.  My hands are getting very itchy to start work in our garden, though right now the soil is still too wet, but I will be sowing some seed in the next few days.

CENTRE FOR PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY

Last Sunday we visited the Hollies, not very far from where we live, this is a centre for practical sustainability. There was an open day, which we enjoyed very much and learnt quite a few things. We walked the gardens and I noticed how much flowers grew bordering the vegetables which were laid out in narrow plots to minimize compacting the soil.

This community offers a variety of courses, I have booked one of them for later in the month. Gardening skills are taught, managing poly tunnels, growing food for the family, wild food foraging, building a baking oven, and how to create a bio-diverse garden to name a few.
What I found most interesting, and new to me is the amount of cob houses that are on the land (around 30acres), some of them half built which gave us an idea what goes on in building them, all the different steps were explained to us on the walk. It is fascinating how a beautiful house can be build just using earth, some lime, clay, pebbles, and straw (I hope that I got that right). But building by this method takes a long time, as layer upon layer has to dry out before one can proceed.
This is what I picked up from going there for a few hours, it was a first introduction to this community but we will go there again and learn more.
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Discussing manure in one of the poly tunnels, and lots of leeks growing for the winter.

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Some features of a cob house, and one half built.

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Dry-lining is not required, this is foundation under wall.  And the chimney in middle of room in this case.

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A living roof, and some of the clay and straw ready for use.

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A roof from the inside of a cob house, beautifully made, and other part of the room.