Updated: 04/12/17 : 05:45:49Printable Version
Dear Fellow Gardeners,
Last week I was teaching at the Permaculture College in Kinsale. It’s a
fascinating place with student from all over Europe and plants from all
over the world - and Kinsale itself is probably one of the most
beautiful towns in Ireland. Next I went to Blarney to give a course at
the Hydro allotments – these are amazing and award winning allotments,
well worth a visit if you are in the area.
I met up with my gardening hero Joy Larkcom and Kitty Scully and I’m
proud to say – I managed to convince them both to join the Gardening
Weekend in Renvyle House next February. If you are interested in coming
along I recommend you book a place early.
This is going to be a weekend not to be missed – with Joy Larkcom and
Kitty Scully to join us (Anja Gohlke – Head Gardener at Kylemore Abbey)
for this informative and relaxing gardening weekend at the wonderful
Renvyle House Hotel in Connemara. I am so delighted that Joy agreed to
come – she is a very well known author of vegetable growing books and an
inspiration for all gardeners.
She and her late husband Don travelled
throughout Europe in the 80’s in search of new vegetables, a decade
later Joy travelled in China and other Asian countries and brought back
the most amazing oriental vegetables which are now available
Renvyle House Gardening Weekend
Fri 16th – Sun 18th February 2018
This year's gardening weekend will include an introductory
evening, several demonstrations and workshops, a visit to Kylemore Abbey
Victorian Walled Gardens with a tour with the head gardener, nightly in
house entertainment, and complimentary use of on-site facilities.
A gardening weekend with Anja Gohlke (Head Gardener at Kylemore Abbey),
Klaus Laitenberger, Joy Larkcom and Kitty Scully at the wonderful
Renvyle House Hotel in Connemara.
Price: €195.00pp and includes 2 Bed & Breakfast,
1 Dinner & 1 Bar Food Evening Meal (Main Course + Tea/Coffee),
Gardening demonstrations and tips with Klaus Laitenberger, presentations
from Joy Larkcom and Kitty Scully and an afternoon field trip to
Kylemore Victorian Walled Garden with Head Gardener Anja Gohlke and
or 095 46100
Politics can be very frustrating – we tried to get 1,000,000 signatures
within the EU in order to achieve legal protection for soils
(People4Soils campaign) and we failed with a large margin of only
200,000 people being concerned enough about the future of our soils.
Within the EU only Italy and Ireland achieved their quorums.
At the same time a campaign was launched about banning the use of
glyphosate – the active ingredient of Roundup, Monsanto’s best selling
weedkiller. This campaign was a lot more successful especially because
the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared glyphosate as a possible
But despite such an overwhelming response – the EU decided on the 24th
November to issue another 5 year licence for Roundup. Five years is a
very long time to accumulate toxins in our soils, in our plants and in
Glyphosate was found in over 60% of bread sampled and even Ben&Jerry
ice-cream had a recent public scandal when the chemical was found in
its ice-cream. It is found in people’s urine even if they not in
contact with the weedkiller itself.
One fact that many people are not always aware of is that roundup is
sprayed onto growing crops a couple of weeks before harvesting. They
call it desiccation. This makes harvesting a lot easier and the crops
mature evenly. Desiccation is used for all cereal crops, potatoes and
even pumpkins. This means that all these crops contain glyphosate
residues which we will eat.
My biggest hope is that if nothing else happens in the next five years –
we should hope that spraying crops with glyphosate prior to harvesting
should be banned.
Thanks to Marian Harkin and Nessa Childers –our only two MEP’s who voted
against re-licensing Roundup and who faced a lot of criticism for their
As I said before – politics is frustrating and I’m nearly of the opinion
that only very little can be achieved. It’s the companies such as
Monsanto or Bayer (or soon an amalgamation of the two) who make the
So maybe we have to change our tune – instead of constantly complaining
about pesticides, herbicides and intensive farming – we should maybe
portray a new and more positive viewpoint.
Can you imagine if the whole country would farm sustainably, if it would
be a real green country with no water pollution, clean air and only
renewable energy. If we could farm sustainably using more native Irish
breeds of cattle and sheep which are more suitable to the less fertile
areas of the country. If we could plant more native trees (and not
Sitka spruce plantations) on farms for shelter and for absorbing
carbon. These are only little things and only small changes would be
required and it wouldn’t even cost too much.
At the end of the day it’s the consumer who will decide on what farming
system we will have in the future. It depends what kind of food we will
Mashua – Tuberous Nasturtium
This is one of the Inca vegetables that I will study on my Nuffield trip
next year. I have grown this crop for many years. It is closely
related to the common garden nasturtium but produces a large yield of
edible tubers. The leaves and flowers are edible too. It is a vigorous
climber and can also used as a ground cover.
I have two varieties – a cream coloured tuber and a red one.
Unfortunately I have lost the striped variety that I had grown for many
years. If anyone still has this one – you may want to swap it with some
of mine tubers.
I must admit – for many years I have only grown this crop as an
ornamental and for its edible flowers especially after ruining a number
of meals with this off-putting peppery taste.
This has luckily changed – I met a wonderful chef (Diane Lefebure) and
gave her the challenge to produce something edible out of these highly
She came up with the most delicious mashua croguettes and kindly lets me share the recipe.
300g of Mashua
20g of butter
30g grated parmesan
Flour or gluten free flour
Breadcrumbs or gluten free breadcrumbs
Boil or steam the Mashua until tender, mash including the skin,
add butter, grated parmesan and seasonings, add a small amount of flour
at a time until the mixture can be formed into croquettes the size of
your choice. Dip in flour, beaten eggs and then breadcrumbs. Place in
the fridge for at least 20 minutes. The croquettes can then be baked or