August Gardening Newsletter 2023
Dear Fellow Gardeners,
Apologies for not sending a gardening newsletter for the last couple of months. As I’m writing this newsletter I’m sitting on the WB Yeats ferry back from Cherbourg to Dublin. After three months of travelling through France, Italy and Greece we are so excited to get back to the Emerald Isle. It’s so wonderful to hear all the different Irish accents on the ferry.
We needed to do this trip as we were homeless travelers, having bought a house in Newport, Co. Mayo and still trying to finalise the sale of our house in Leitrim. The children will start school next wekk so we’ll definitely move in then.
I tried to get as many vegetable experiences as I could – even with a near teenage girl. I went to farmer’s markets, visited some organic farms and obviously tasted plenty of meals trying to find something local or unusual.
The sad thing is that it seems that the world wants to limit itself to just a few brands and just a few vegetables. Where is the diversity, the local speciality, the local variety of a particular vegetable or fruit?
Italy was definitely the best country in terms of food and food ingredients but still – most meals were the most delicious creamy pasta dish and if I’m lucky with some globe artichoke or a delicious chicory in it. I did find some amazing tomatoes varieties from Mount Vesuvius and some local chicory varieties I the south of Italy.
I think it’s sad how we are limiting ourselves to such a small diversity of food that we eat and grow. Everything seems to be a monoculture with endless stretches of wheat or maize grown in every country. There is really no need for it. We could grow hundreds of edible food plants. This would certainly enrich our lives.
Even more important – should we not explore the potential of new food crops in a changing climate. The more diversity we have, the more resilient a food system is.
Our return journey through France was a shock to us – and maybe that’s why I’m so happy to sit here and listen to a Dublin accent. We crossed from Italy to France into the Haute Alpes. It is such a beautiful part of the world. We stopped in a café in a small town near Gap looking for a bite to eat and a drink and importantly also a toilet stop.
As it was 1.45pm, the food was finished and we could only get the small beers. I asked the waitress if my daughter could use the toilet (which was the main reason why we stopped there in the first place). She rudely pointed to a sign in English – “Toilets can only be used by customers who eat and drink in this bar”. I dared to be brave and said if that’s the case we find a different place to have our drinks. Then a man got up, picked up a large baseball bat and hit it three times fiercely on the counter and roared “You pay for your drinks”! I quickly agreed but this wasn’t enough – he stood in front of me with his nose nearly touching mine and shouted again – “You pay for your drinks”! I agreed again. Finally Joanna got the money out after her own shock and I’m glad to say I got out without any physical pain.
I can’t imagine that such an instance could ever occur in Ireland and I’m so happy to have chosen Ireland as my home and to be made so welcome all these years.
One good thing when you are away from your daily routine for a while is that you get a chance to re-evaluate what you are doing in life. We have always been so busy, always trying to catch up with work.
Lead in sentence……
Our dream is to start a garden with a thousand edible plants.
I will hopefully write more about it in the next newsletter.
What to do in September?
The only crops you can still sow in September are the hardy winter salads. There is a large range of them available. My favourites ones are rocket, mizuna, mustard ‘Red Frills’ and ‘Green Frills, pak choy, claytonia, tatsoi and corn salad.
If you wait till the end of the month or better even October – you can plant autumn garlic either outdoors or in a polytunnel for an early crop.
Garlic bulbs for sale
We managed to source some Irish grown garlic varieties which are tried and tested.
These will be available within the next couple of weeks.
You can plant out lettuce, scallions, turnips, annual spinach, spring cabbage and all your winter salads. Over-wintering onion sets can be planted now.
You can still harvest early carrots, beetroot, dwarf French beans, runner beans, cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, courgettes, marrow, kohlrabi, lettuce, scallions, peas, early potatoes, radish, spinach, chard and turnips.
New vegetables to harvest this month are kale and leeks. If you haven’t harvested your onions yet it’s high time. If you have attempted to grow sweetcorn you should check the
cobs now. Just lift the husk a little bit and see if the kernels have turned yellow.