Whilst at one of the workshops held in the new Caw Nelson Community Growing Space, I stumbled across this lovely little space. Named the Marie Curie Herb Garden. Its a wonderful little space full of fruit, herbs and plants to benefit biodiversity.
for more history of this space, please see page 5 on the below Newsletter from Northern Ireland Housing Executive
Myself and Gracie took a dander through the Herb Garden in Letterkenny town park recently, and it was great to see signs of fresh growth on the herbs...and I got a few sprigs of Rosemary as an air freshener for the welly boots in the car!
This week I've been planting two pots with Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) for either side of the potting shed door. Lemon Balm is an easy to grow garden perennial famed for its citrus scented edible foliage and small flowers which ate very attractive to garden bees.
Lemon Balm can be planted now, alternatively you can sow Lemon Balm from seed now. We sowed some seed this week into seed trays and placed them in a polytunnel, these will hopefully be ready for potting up in the spring.
The herb garden of Glenarm Castle is a thing of beauty. Positioned in an enclosed circle of Yew hedging it basks in sunshine and form a seperate area within the walled garden. With 4 striking viewpoints from the herb garden you can sit and relax here (as I did) and almost take sanctuary from the flashing bright colour and over stimulation of the perennial borders.
Head Gardener Reg Maxwell uses the foliage colours of the herbs to give great effect, and the 'full stops' of the Lollypop bays at each pathway are lovely
Sowing Parsley..a Good Friday job!
Sowing Parsley is a traditional job for Good Friday...long story, and there is as many 'old wives tales' about this...but one of the 'tales' is about how growing Parsley wards off evil spirits and how only the male head of the house can plant it, another 'tale' says that a Virgin who dares sow the seeds looses her virginity to the devil!! (see here for a great piece on Parsley folklore)
Parsley is different from most other herbs in that its best grown fresh every year, so treat it like a cabbage or lettuce and work a good bit of ground and plant it as part of your vegie garden or in big pots of rich compost. At the end of the year dig it all up, eat it all...and I mean all...roots and all and then grow some fresh every year.
We sourced some seeds from At the Garden Gate, see here. and for £2 you'd grow enough parsley to be self-sufficient in this glorious herb!
Parsley takes a good time to germinate, maybe 4 weeks or more so don't be fazed if after a week or two nothing has happened. But they will come....and will be delicious!
Also, see this great idea from GreenSideUpVeg here, parsley seeds and all you need for making Parsley wine...
Spreading the Green Vibe....
newspaper piece about Anna
young Anna from Groarty Primary School is somewhat of a superstar....this year Anna was a finalist in the Royal Horticultural Society School Gardener of the Year Competition...she eneventually finished 4th in the UK...an amazing achievement for a kid from a small school in Derry...Anna is mad keen about all things gardening, whenever I'm in the school she's front row for evetything...so when Jonathan Todd asked me if Anna and friends from Groarty would come out and plant some herbs at the Todds of Campsie showroom....I knew she'd jump at the chance....
Pictures courtesy of Patrick Duddy
it wasn't all Herbs and Horticulture....the older kids are doing a project on F1, so Jonathan gave the group a tour of the showroom, cars and workshop highlighting things which are commonly found in modern cars but have origins in F1, and the kids loved the workshop, where jonathan talked through the modern diagnostics machines and computers used in modern cars....i would have loved this when I was in P5!!!
Creating a Tower Herb Garden....
some of the weekly delivery
The cry from School of Hospitality is 'More More More!!' our weekly deliveries of seasonal produce from the Horticulture training facility in Springtown Campus of the North West Regional College is proving so popular amongst trainee chefs in Strand Road campus that they're looking for more...and Student Services are looking to join in with the enthusisasm for fresh herbs...
showcasing herbs to NVQ level 2 catering students
Project 'Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds' sees the installation of 15 mixed herb planters at the front door of the Tower Building in Strand Rd, the herb planters are for both the catering students to pic and become more familiar with the source of fresh produce but also for all students to pick and enjoy, Student Services are now working with Catering students on providing signage on inspirational ways all students could use the fresh herbs, from adding them to convenience foods and take-aways to cooking easy dishes from scratch...
horticulture students from St Brigids
The students from St Brigids High School, who are city and guilds level 1 students in Horticulture in Springtown were the muscle behing the operation, they worked on the layout of the barrels, the planting and grew most of the plants themselves from seeds, cuttings and division so it was great to see the plants finding a final home, but also for the tour of the kitchens in strand rd, the lads are now appreciative on how the fresh herbs will be put to use...
Flavours of the Foyle....
A cookery mecca showcasing all thats good about seafood from the North West....Flavours of the Foyle sounded right up my street. So I wrangled mesell an invite...what a great way to mix with chefs get an idea on how they're using seasonal produce and perhaps spread a bit of the GIY and Gardening vibe....well that was the plans anyways.
mrs...now thay was the plans...thanks to the organisers I found myself with a table in the main hall, a speaking time-slot in the demo tent and access to some of the best chefs in the town....so I took an early morning trip around the Foyle CommunityGardens and gathered up a selection of seasonal produce (not too much mind), had some cracking Kohl Rabi (we'll cover that in a minute), great mix of herbs, spring greens, onions, salads and fruits..Broadcaster Mark Patterson & Chef Brian McDermott loved the selection of stuff ...
Now when you have a table full of community produce, it draws foks in...both to ask questions about the produce but also with a genuine interest in the projects that are on the go in the town. Here new mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell getting ambushed for an interview with the community garden produce table in the background. Kevin is a keen grower himself, growing in his back garden with the family, and involved from the start with the CommunityGarden project in Creggan.
One of my main focus of being there was to see what the chefs were at and to encourage them to use seasonal produce, thus giving the GIY'ers out some inspiration for what to do with their produce and to highlight to the chefs that this is whats in season now in the gardens and fields around the town.
one of the more unusual things i had was Kohl Rabi, this is a turnip type vegetable, easily grown in the back garden. It combined the flavours of tunip and cauliflowers. The chefs went mad for it! Ian Orr (recent winner of Ulsters best Chef) used it all!...he used with with blackpudding and scallops...and by jeez it tasted mighty!
The selection of produce was available for all the chefs to use all day, in their continual cooking displays but also int he demo tent...and by 5pm this was the sight....not a leave left...the chefs all loved the freshness of it and the fact it had been produced on their doorsteps.
Herbs on our Kerbs....
Another week another radio show....Big focus on Herbs this week both on the radio and in the community
this weeks focus on our attention has been Herbs, we've been sowing them, planting them and growing them. Herbs should suit most of our gardens, in that they do well on neglect. Most herbs are form warm climates - so they are naturally drought resistant, so do well in areas of neglect. Herbs love good drainage so i'd recommend you plant them in pots. Container growing affords the herbs nice warm soil and lots of good drainage. Here is some Oregano being potted into pots in Fountain Primary School. by growing herbs in pots you also allow for them to be moved about the garden indeed moving them closer to the back door when you're most in need of them in the kitchen. I'd recomend you grow the herbs you eat, Communitychef.ie Brian McDermott recommends you use no more than 3 in any dish, so thats good advise when you come to grow them, grow a selection that you know you'd eat!
With that in mind, up in Blighs Lane Nursery they grow a selection of herbs in pots, here Coriander, Chives, Parsley, Oregano, Thyme and Mint. Herbs are ideal companion plants for the garden, their uncomplicated flowers are a magnet for beneficial insects
When we decided to plant Herbs in Trinity Court in Newtowncunningham, the folks asked for loads of Parsley, so they planted a bed of French Parsley (far nicer than curled parsley...trust me, try it and you'll never go back!), some Sorrel and a load of celery.
Here is a picture of the famous 'Glen Herb Snake', every year we plant a wide range of herbs for the front of the Glen Community Centre for anyone living nearby to come and harvest from
Lots of flat leaved parsley being planted in amongst Garlic in Groarty Primary School
Here are trays of Garlic Chives sown from seed in Belmont School by the P7's (the goldy stuff is Vermiculite), sown en masse in a tray and then lifted and planted into clumps into pots later
I'm getting great feedback from folks about the Comfrey fertiliser we're always yapping about. Here is a bucket just getting made lots of leaves packed inot a bucket and then add water. Stir every week and after 6 weeks drain off the liquid and this you use as a concentrated tomato fertiliser. (beware after 4 weeks is starts to honky tonk!)
And this Comfrey stuff isn't for your 'fansy smansy' gardeners...we even make it and use it in Blighs Lane Nursery!
If your on the look-out for comfrey head down to the Inch Island WildFowl Reserve (wonderful place for a stroll), and look out for this plant. Thats Comfrey.
Gardening on Radio Foyle
A summary of each weeks gardening on Mark Patterson Show and beyond