As we have gone through a few seasons in the garden as small scale commercial growers the one thing that has struck me most is how labour intensive market gardening is on our scale. We are too small for a mechanised system and yet one person in the garden feels like a David and Goliath battle when you are trying to keep up with hoeing, planting and harvesting by early summer.
It is with this in mind that I would like to sincerely thank all of the helpers that have come through our garden and spent time helping us to develop our garden and to share in the food that we have produced. We have been amazed at the number of people who willingly give their time and effort to grow and it has always been a positive experience to work alongside others in the garden. It lends itself to team effort and two people working together undoubtedly do the work of three on their own.
Many of our helpers have said that they feel better just for working in a garden – and there definitely seems to be a therapeutic effect, aside of the obvious benefit of eating fresh produce. I know that the simplicity of hoeing in the tunnel on a rainy day or planting a new bed of lettuce relaxes me away from other worries. It is always a positive thing to grow, and to grow food feels like an all round winning way to spend the day.
So, to all the wwoofers, friends, volunteers, trainees and of course family members who have given us their time and shared the effort to make our garden grow – thank you so much for your help. You all are a big part of the engine of Good & Green!
In July 2011 our three latest weaners arrived – two red duroc & a gloucester old spot mix. It was our first time to keep them out in the garden and it was a great experience to see them rooting, playing, chasing each other around and even sunbathing when the weather allowed.
We placed them in a part of the garden that we are now planning to cultivate for green manure & crops next year. They did a fantastic job on rooting up the scraw and starting the process of breaking the turf and manuring the ground in preparation for working the ground for the next crops.
They enjoyed a great variety in their diet – corn stalks, herbs, old salad, spinach, brassica plants, soft pumpkins, acorns gathered in autumn – anything out of the garden, organic pig nuts for balanced nutrients, and anything they rooted up from the ground. All in all they had a good – if short life with us.
As great as it was to have them they were ultimately heading for the freezer, and with the cost of their feed there was no option to keep them as pets. Although I had misgivings, all the boys here were looking forward to sausages and pork crackling with no regrets. I guess if you are going to eat meat, it’s good to know that it’s the best quality possible, and that the animals enjoyed the time that they had here.
The meat turned out to be fantastic quality – enough fat for flavour, but lean from their outdoor lifestyle and full of flavour. We are selling some of the meat, as we had alot of requests from customers – if you are interested the list is on ‘available produce listing’.
At this time of year it can seem that the range of Irish produce is limited by comparison with the endless possibilities of mid summer, but there are loads of varied and really tasty recipes using winter produce. It just requires a bit of thought to break out the habits that we can fall into when we think of a particular ingredient and how it can be used.
With this in mind I am working on an index of recipes that I have come across in various books and from customers and friends that use ingredients in season in Ireland during that season. I will break it into each of the four seasons and hope to add to the index as I find new ideas over the year. You can see the index under it’s own heading on the website subject list.
Please send on any ideas that you would like included. Some of the recipes are already detailed on the website – if you see a recipe that you would like, but I haven’t yet added the detailed instructions please feel free to contact me – it will prompt me to type up the full recipe!
The tunnels are full of salads, herbs, rocket and spinach – as green as any time during the summer. It is a lovely contrast to the outdoor beds, that are looking a bit cold and empty compared to the height of the growing season. Our winter crops are doing well – leeks, cabbage, kale and cauliflower all growing well, but the summer crops have all finished outdoors at this stage and it is only inside that young leafy plants will do well. Our brussel sprouts are coming along nicely and hopefully will come into their own in December.
We still have work to do outside (surprise, surprise) – the empty beds have been ploughed and need harrowing and manuring for next year. We are hoping to sow green manure, but time is running out now, so it may be that we manure and cover the area in preparation for Spring. I have daily growing respect for all growers who have the skill and energy to keep up with the forces of nature in the garden… weeds never sleep!
It is the pigs that have us feeling a bit lonely this evening though – they went today to the factory and we are missing them around the place. I don’t think I would be a good livestock farmer – I couldn’t look them in the eye for the past few days and spent most of today feeling a bit tearful. It’s not like they were in the living room as pets, but they lived beside the tunnels, and were great company as you worked – you could always hear them snuffling around, particularly if they realised you were there. Don’t get me wrong – we are looking forward to the excellent meat they will give us, it’s just that it does feel a bit empty outside now that they have gone…