Dear Fellow Gardeners,
It seems strange to write a gardening newsletter from Greece.
We are in
the most stunningly beautiful southern part of mainland Greece – on the
Peloponnese peninsula’s middle finger – the Mani. The strange thing is
that apart from Greek tourists there are very few ‘foreign tourists’.
There are nearly empty beaches with crystal clear waters and the most
The Mani peninsula is steeped in history with their amazing villages of
tall strong square tower houses. The terraces on which food crops were
grown which have supported a much larger population a long time ago are
now all planted in olive trees which are irrigated, however the majority
of terraces lie abandoned. All the hard work of the ancestors
crumbling away slowly. Despite the delicious food which is available
even in the most basic tavernas – I haven’t seen any vegetable garden in
the first week of the holidays.
I really didn’t imagine that Greek people have also given up on growing
their own food and leaving it to commercial growers especially with such
a heritage of food culture. Why not utilise these amazing terraces,
collect rainwater and grow the most amazing range of food crops
I’m beginning to feel like the German tourist in Heinrich Boell’s famous fable about the fisherman and a tourist.
The Tale of the fisherman and the tourist A tourist looks on a most idyllic picture: a fisherman dozing in the
sun in his rowing boat that he has pulled out of the waves which come
rolling up the sandy beach. The tourist's camera clicks and the
fisherman wakes. The tourist asks: “The weather is great and there's
plenty of fish, so why are you lying around instead of going out and
The fisherman replies: “Because I caught enough this morning.”
“But just imagine,” the tourist says, “you could go out there three or
four times a day and bring home three or four times as much fish! And
then you know what could happen?” The fisherman shakes his head. “After a
year you could buy yourself a motorboat,” says the tourist. “After two
years you could buy a second one, and after three years you could have a
cutter or two. And just think! One day you might be able to build a
freezing plant or a smoke house. You might eventually even get your own
helicopter for tracing shoals of fish and guiding your fleet of cutters,
or you could buy your own trucks to ship your fish to the capital, and
then . . .”
“And then?” asks the fisherman.
“And then”, the tourist continues triumphantly, “you could spend time
sitting at the beachside, dozing in the sun and looking at the beautiful
ocean!” The fisherman looks at the tourist: “But that is exactly what I
was doing before you came along!”
A few days on ....
We stay in the small town of Leonidia in the Tsakonia region of the
Pelepponnese. This is surrounded by a very fertile loamy soil. And
here I completely change my mind again. We drove through an area with
hundreds of small market gardens each having a few polytunnels as well
as self-built greenhouse structures and beautiful small outdoor plots
with crops grown in straight rows and kept very neatly. This area
stretches on for miles between the town of Leonidia and the sea.
is a vegetable gardener’s paradise with such a wonderful diversity of
crops, including citrus fruit, peaches, nectarines, grapes as well as
tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, salads etc. The most special plant of this
particular area, however, is the aubergine (eggplant). This is a real
speciality in this area and they have a special variety of eggplant.
It’s the Tsakonian eggplant which produces long lilac fruits with white
It is so special and unique to this area that it has been
awarded a Protected Designation of Origin status. The Tsakonian
eggplant is sweet and does not need to be salted before cooking to draw
out its bitter juices. The flesh is of a velvety texture and very
I would love to get hold of a few seeds and try them out in Ireland.
The temperature here though is constantly in the mid thirties and even
at night it’s well over 20 degrees. The plants might get a little shock
in Leitrim but who knows.
Events: 23rd August 2017 Heritage of Kitchen Gardens – Co. Waterford, Dungarvan Library 7.30-9.00pm
Talk about the history of the Kitchen Garden in Ireland and Waterford by organic horticulturist and writer Klaus Laitenberger Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0761102668
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September 2017
Ballymaloe Garden Festival
“On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September the Ballymaloe Garden Festival will take place on the grounds at Ballymaloe House
and is a weekend for garden lovers, seasoned experts, late bloomers and
foodies alike. There will be a variety of talks, demonstrations,
entertainment and shopping offers a bumper crop for garden lovers,
seasoned experts, late bloomers, families and foodies. Among the
highlights of this year's festival are two talks by Alan Power, head gardener at the world famous Stourhead
in Wiltshire. Mr Power is a Cork native, regular guest on the BBC's
Gardener's World, an expert on the landscape designer Capability Brown
and the presenter of a podcast series on National Trust Gardens.
Irish garden legend Helen Dillon
will speak about 'Moving House - Only the best to come', focussing on
the plants she simply couldn't leave behind when moving to her new,
smaller garden in Co. Dublin. Darina Allen will launch her latest book, 'Grow and Cook', followed by questions and answers at 3pmon Saturday. Klaus Laitenberger of Green Vegetable Seeds and Ballymaloe gardener Susan Turner will lead organic vegetable walks in Ballymaloe's Walled Garden exploring 'Weeds, Pests and Diseases'
For more information look at: http://ballymaloefestivals.ie/events/ballymaloe-garden-festival
Sunday 12th November 2017
Theme: Expert talks around the topic “Clever & Creative Gardening” with Jim Cronin and myself in Ennis, Co Clare.
For more information contact the organiser Carmen Cronin on: email@example.com