January 2021 Gardening Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

Last week I was out tending the old Huegelbed in Bundoran and it was one of these magical days with the occasional blue sky, not a breeze in the air and the birds were singing as if it was spring already.  With the warm sun rays on my back, I plotted away, forking out weeds, pruning herbs, planting a few shrubs – and then it came over me – this wonderful sensation of belonging to this beautiful Earth, of being completely at one with the world around me, when all the recurring thoughts in my brain disappeared.  Even the state of the world was forgotten for a while.

These rare moments of oneness with our surrounds are what makes gardening so special to me.  It’s like a meditation.  Unfortunately these moments don’t come too often.  A “boring”, repetitive gardening task like weeding or hoeing helps immensely, mixed with sunshine and bird song and slowing down a gear will definitely help.

Today the rain never stopped and coppicing willow in the rain is miserable even with rain gear.

I also met Florence – a 96 year old woman who visits the community gardens every day on her 4 mile walk.  I’m very fond of Florence and even named one of own potato breeds after her.  She was thrilled with it but gave out about the waxy nature of it!

I asked her about her secret for a healthy, fit and long life. She said she would have to invent an ache or pain, because she hasn’t any.  Here are her secrets:

Fresh air – she rarely misses her daily 3-hour walk; social interaction – she stops for a chat with anyone; routine – she wakes up at the same time and goes to bed the same time, same breakfast etc; abstinence – no – she wouldn’t be opposed to the occasional glass of red wine.  She also never took any medication.  I would have loved to add that she only eats organic food from the community gardens – but that would be a lie!

The next one is probably the real secret – she said: “I’m 96 years old, but I still think I’m 26.  If you tell me we’ll go to Galway for the day, I’ll answer – let’s get my coat.”  She also said “leave fear and worry outside your door”.

This was quite a revelation to me – it’s in our mind, in our attitude and she really lives it.  Not even the severe lockdown last year, that stopped old people from going for walks, couldn’t stop her from her long walks.


New Course: Growing in Polytunnels – an on-line course

This course is quickly filling up again this year.  We started filming last Monday and prepared a 22m x 9m polytunnel and are ready to get started with planting it up while filming the course.

Growing in Polytunnels 2021 online course is now live and open for booking on the NOTS website here: https://nots.ie/courses/growing-in-polytunnels-2021/

“The course will be a minimum of 14 ALL NEW tutorial videos, with Video 1 being released on Wednesday February 10th. None of 2020’s videos will be re-used – this will be all new content for anyone who was on the 2020 course. The course will also include live, interactive Q&A sessions with Klaus Laitenberger focusing on the topics of the videos, and answering the burning questions of our participants. The exact dates and topics of each video will be confirmed in the new year – but you can see an overview of what will be covered on the course page.”

The course cost is €50 for NOTS eligible participants, and €75 for overseas.

Go to https://nots.ie/courses/growing-in-polytunnels-2021/ to sign up, and we look forward to welcoming many of you back in 2021.”                                      Kevin Fagan – NOTS



There is also a separate free course for the unemployed launched shortly afterwards – please enquire directly from NOTS.


New Book:  The Self-Sufficient Garden

My new book is at the printers and we should get it next week.  Have a look at our website in the next week or two if you are interested.


Potato Salad Recipe

This is my mother’s recipe of this wonderful potato salad.  My son Thien has perfected it even better than I and made a youtube video about it:

Have a look at the link below:



Farming For Nature

If you know of any farm that inspired you and you feel that they deserve recognition in how they care for nature, please nominate them as an ambassador for Farming For Nature.

I think this is one of the most wonderful awards and really showcases some of the most impressive farms and farmers in Ireland.

It shows that farming can be done in harmony with nature rather than constantly fighting it and pushing it to its limits.  True farming is agri-culture – the culture of the land.

You have until this Sunday to nominate a farm.  For more information and winners of previous years, have a look at their website:  www.farmingfornature.ie

Happy Gardening,