I often hear the phrases “I don’t have green fingers” or “I haven’t got a clue about gardening” and I would have said the same myself in the past. We can apply that to all areas in our lives where we haven’t learnt some basics – “I can’t type” or “I can’t bake”. In the end it comes down to education, learning and practice and when we begin to open ourselves up to new experiences, our confidence grows and usually there’s no looking back.
In the gardening world we never stop learning. It doesn’t matter whether we’ve a PhD or a participation certificate, there’s so much to excite inquiring minds; nature isn’t something we can pin down and understand every nuance of, we’re always discovering new mysteries.
This week I grabbed a day out of the busy work/family schedule to clear out the polytunnel and found myself ridiculously excited to find so many dried beans hanging from the climbing plants that had gone beyond their best. One of the reasons pea and bean plants in the legume family stop producing is because we stop picking them; they think their job is done and they start to produce viable seeds instead of luscious green pods ripe for eating.
Chemical Free to Organic Gardening
Saving the seeds of vegetables I’ve grown isn’t a habit I’ve developed but as I make the transition from chemical free to organic gardening, it’s opened up so many possibilities.
During the spring I joined Irish Seedsavers who sell organic, heritage varieties of seeds suitable for the Irish climate, one variety of which were Mr Fern Climbing Bean. The beans were a delicious and prolific crop, giving us many summer dinners and several bag full of beans in the freezer for the cooler months. We didn’t pick them all and consequently, the seeds began to dry naturally in the protected environment of the polytunnel. I’ve been able to save enough for my seed tin for a couple of years and will give some to community gardening friends too. I might even soak and boil a few to add to a supper dish during the winter.
Smallholder Gathering at 2016 Savour Kilkenny
As more people begin to take an interest in the food they eat, opportunities for learning new skills are increasing. This year at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival the organisers have added a Smallholder marquee to the cookery and food market village. There are lots of workshops planned to help people interested in growing food, rearing animals, learning traditional skills, or meeting up with like minded people and I’ll be joining them.
Greenside Up Talks About Herbs
On Saturday, 29th October from 11am -1pm you’ll find me talking about growing and using kitchen garden herbs and planting up a herb container. This is a free event and anyone watching will be given the opportunity to sow their own herbs and take them home. Herbs were the first plants I grew successfully back in my twenties and are part of the reason I returned to full time education to study horticulture in more detail.
There are many more talks and workshops planned throughout the weekend given by people passionate about food, all free or low cost. If you’re interested in learning more take a look at the Savour Kilkenny website where you can plan times or book tickets.
If your group or organisation would like a grow your own talk, a gardening workshop or would like to learn more about the benefits of community gardening, take a look at the Workshops page for more information or contact me to discuss more.
I didn’t know that they’d go to seed so quickly. I know what you mean, we find we are learning all the time with farming – things still happen that surprise us and it’s extra good if they make us smile.
I always love the idea of saving seeds. It’s mad to think that the beans you eat today could be the great great great grandchildren of the beans our great great great grandparents ate.