In groarty Primary we planted some celery and few lettuce before the summer break...and its was harvesting time. we got a series pile of baby celery and a few nice lettuce...(the school janitor picked all the spuds on us during the sumer..boooo!!)
Sown in June when the kids returned to school it was carrot pulling time. We sowed a mix of varieties incl Nantes and Royal Chantenney, we got a great crop. Last year we suffered with a bit of drought in the schools raised beds but this year the carrots delivered....and we got a godd few boxes of tasty carrots, which didn't make it through the day before being devoured raw by the pupils....happy days.
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.
the best thing about planting...is the harvesting. Harvesting in a school is tricky...no point in leaving or having stuff ready in the school holidays, so we tend to do some out-of-the-normal growing to ensure produce is ready before or after the schools holidays. Here is kids from Blighs Lane Nursery harvesting loads of garlic and spinach
I grow courgettes with all the schools, i know i know....'but they're ready in the summer', aye they are, but before the schools break we can get a steady harvest for the last few weeks of the terms and if I pop in a few times to harvest in the summer the plants are still cropping in September
and the things kids love is hunting for buried treasure, and searching for gold nuggests of new potatoes kids love. The potatoes are small, but really tasty, we leave a few of the bags and ridges in some school un harvested so we can lift some in september too
its great to show off a bit in schools too, let parents and other visitors see the good work kids have been doing, today in St Therese we set up a harvest table in the reception showing some of the fabulous stuff the kids have been growing...and perhaps encourage them to do the same at the house (we keep a weekly scrapbook of what the kids do - thats the book).....anyways, what are you harvesting??
Gardening on Radio Foyle
A summary of each weeks gardening on Mark Patterson Show and beyond