October Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

Snail Farming

September always seems to make up for a bad summer even up in County Leitrim.  We call it the Indian summer here – it’s really an American – English term which describes the time when the American Indians went to hunt.  In Germany, Austria and Switzerland we call it the “Altweibersommer” which means something like “Old Woman’s Summer”.   In Bulgaria they call it the “Poor Man’s Summer”.

Anyway – we should enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Despite all the wet and miserable summer all our vegetables did quite well.  We should have plenty of onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots and beetroot to last us until the following spring.   Even the tomatoes finally started to ripen even if it was about 6 weeks later than usual.

All the root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beetroot and parsnip) I will harvest next week and store them in soil pits.  I found that soil has the best insulation properties.  In the past I stored vegetables in boxes of vegetables alternated with sand in a shed.  Now I prefer digging a drench in my greenhouse and putting all the root vegetables into large plastic boxes and filling them with the vegetables and then covering it all up with a thick layer of soil (minimum 15cm deep).  It’s important that you don’t wash the vegetables as this would wash away all the protective layers.  This way they will last until well into April or even May the following year.  When you harvest beetroot, carrots and parsnips it’s best to twist the foliage rather than cutting it so you don’t leave a stump that may rot during storage.

If you are lucky enough and have a free draining soil you can also leave all your root veg in the ground and harvest them as you want them.  I can’t ever do that as my soil is saturated during the winter months and I also enjoy the convenience of just going into the greenhouse for some vegetables.

I must admit though, that my gardening enthusiasm wanes or completely fades during the winter months.  So I have all the root vegetables stored safely and then I cover the vegetable beds with black plastic (silage cover) until the birds wake me up again in the following spring.  I used to be annoyed with myself for losing interest in gardening in winter– especially as it is my job, but I now realise it’s only a seasonal apathy and when spring arrives I’ll be ready again for another year.

Back to practical matters –obviously onions and garlic are stored differently.  They require cool and dry conditions. We usually bunch them up and have them hanging in the kitchen tied into bunches.


International Year of Soils

As all of you are aware that the Year 2015 is the International Year of Soils as declared by the FAO of the UN – a new film has been released by Deborah Koons Garcia and what a wonderful title: ‘Symphony of the Soil’.  I haven’t seen the movie but the trailer looks absolutely amazing. I’d highly recommend it.

“We sincerely hope you will join us, adding your voice to a diverse audience of individuals, in a discussion that will explore the importance of soil quality to the future of Irish food production. To stimulate your appetite for conversation, we have invited a selection of artisans to provide sustainably produced and sourced refreshments after the film. This will include the first ever tasting of our very own King Sitric SPUDS!”      Kaethe Burt O’Dea

Details are below:

DATE: 10th October
TIME: 3pm – 5.30pm
PLACE: Lighthouse Cinema, Market Sq. Smithfield, Dublin

Contact for further information:
087 2444185

If you can’t make it to the movie you can have a look at:



Soils Conference:

There is also another Soils Conference that will take place in Dublin organised by ‘New Generation Agriculture’.  I got the following email recently.  I’m not familiar with the organisation but anything that promotes soil health I feel is worth promoting:

“I am writing on behalf of ‘New Generation Agriculture’ which is based in Northern Ireland. At present our Company is organising a Conference called ‘Soil Health and your Wealth’ hosted by the ‘influential’ and ‘inspirational speaker’ Graham Sait who is flying in from Australia.

The Conference will be held in the City North Hotel, Gormanstown, Dublin, Ireland on 28th & 29th of October 2015.  If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me and I look forward to your response.

Fiona Mc Nally

Office: 048 87789444


Vegetable Gardening Information:

I was sent a link by Ellis Wakefield, the author of “Vegetable Gardening for Dummies – A Novice’s Guide”.  It’s a great link for all beginners to vegetable gardening.  It’s full of useful tips and enthusiasm.  Have a look at the link below:



Talk in Donegal:

I’ll be giving a talk on “Soil Health and Vegetable Growing” on the 12th October for the Donegal Gardening Society at the beautiful Salthill Gardens near Mountcharles which was designed  by Elizabeth Temple.  For more information please contact Conor Daly at daly.conor@icloud.com.

If you have a chance it’s well worth visiting the beautiful Salthill Gardens.



More events:

Snail Farming Conference

Nots (National Organic Training Skillsnets) is organising a series of events this autumn.  The most exciting one is definitely going to be the SNAILS Conference which will be held in Athlone on the 20th and 21st of October.  They get the best experts from around the world to talk about snail farming in Ireland.  It appears to be a great opportunities for farmers in Ireland to diversify into snail farming.  Snails love Ireland – it’s never too hot and never too cold and it certainly is never too dry.

More information about the conference is at the end of the newsletter.


I will also be giving day-courses on Winter Vegetable Production at the wonderful Hydro Allotments in Blarney, Co. Cork and Springmount Garden Centre in Co. Wexford in November.

For more information and booking have a look at the NOTS website link:



More Info on the Snails Conference:

The National Organic Training Skillnets (NOTS) will be hosting an exciting two day seminar on Snail production.  This unique seminar should be of interest to all those who might consider snail farming as a part-time of full-time source of income.

Presentations will be made by a number of international experts on all aspects of the industry, including different methods of production, domestic and international markets, viability and profitability of snail farming, difficulties that may be encountered and the main reasons for failure.

Guest speakers will include:

Dr. Giovanni Avagnina, Founder and Director of the International Snail Breeding Institute, Cherasco, Italy. He has over 40 years experience in snail breeding in Italy and is now a recognised international Consultant. He manages a number of snail farms in Italy and has written widely on the topic, including a best-selling book entitled “Snail Breeding”.

Ms Monika Samland: Director of the Institut für deutsche Schneckenzucht, Nersingen, Germany. Ms Samland has over 15 years experience in snail breeding in Germany, is a specialist on the needs of the German market and is also an experienced international Consultant in the subject.

Ms Penny Vlachou: Founder and COO of Fereikos in Greece. Since 2007, Fereikos has established 182 outdoor snail farms in Greece, Germany and Cyprus. See www.fereikos.com

Mr. Louis Marie Guedon, President Directeur General of French Mucus, experienced French snail farmer and designer/manufacturer of equipment for the extraction of snail by-products for the pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Jean-Claude Bonnet, International Expert in Heliciculture, former Advisor to the French Government on snail breeding and now a widely experienced international Consultant

Ms. Eva Milka: Founder of Ireland’s first commercial snail farm. A number of other Irish speakers, who have established snail farms in Ireland in the recent past, will also make presentations.


Why consider snail farming as an option? 

The global market for edible snails is 300,000 tons, valued at €1billion. The French and Italian markets alone amount to €300 million. France imports over 80% of their needs and Italy imports 60% of needs, creating an export potential of approximately €200 million.

The market is growing at 4.5% per annum, so price levels are being maintained.

The Irish climate is ideal for snail farming.


The profit margin on snail farming is high, if the correct farming techniques are applied and investment is relatively low.

Snails are easily exportable live, with a shelf life ranging from 2 to 6 months.

Snail meat is a recognised health food, high in protein and low in fat.

Snails are not susceptible to any serious diseases.

Other countries have established a successful snail farming industry in the recent past. Ten years ago, there were 3 snail farms in Poland. Today there are over 200, providing over 1,000 jobs and generating high income for small farms.

Purpose of Seminar

Recently, there is evidence of a growing interest in snail farming in Ireland. While snail farming can be very profitable if the correct farming and business techniques are applied, it is also easy to incur considerable losses and/or loss of investment, if the incorrect techniques are applied.

The purpose of this Seminar is to outline a variety of techniques that have been successfully applied in other European countries, carry out a preliminary evaluation of those techniques and use this evaluation as the basis of a training programme for potential Irish snail farmers.

Location: The Sheraton Hotel, Athlone, Co Westmeath

Dates: Tuesday, October 20th and Wednesday, October 21st. 2015.

Time: Commencing each day at 9.30am to 1.00pm and 2.00pm to 5.00pm


  • €100.0 for a 2 day pass including refreshments and a light lunch.
  • €157.00 per/person; 2 day pass, evening meal on the 20th of October and shared accommodation in a twin or double room.
  • €179.00 per/person; 2 day pass, evening meal on the 20th of October and accommodation in a single room.

Accommodation: For those planning on an overnight stay on the night of the 20th. NOTS have negotiated a group rate with the hotel which would be available on request.

As there is already considerable demand for attendance, it is recommended to confirm interest as soon as possible.