ISSA e-zine 11 Aug 2011

In this edition -

  • East Clare Garden Tour...

  • Grow Your Own Bread Day...

  • Guided Apple Tasting Tours...

  • Upcoming workshops...

  • What to do in the garden this week...

East Clare Garden Tour

Garden enthusiasts, mark your calendars for a special East Clare Garden Tour on Saturday, August 20. Six private gardens will be open to the public for one day only from 10am to 4pm. Admission to view each garden is €5 (children free), with proceeds shared between the Irish Seed Savers and charities chosen by the garden hosts. These gardens feature Irish Seed Savers vegetable varieties and fruit trees as well as ornamental flower gardens and other special features, such as a river walk, a polytunnel mounted on tracks, and farm animals. To see photos, descriptions, and directions to each garden click on our News&Factsheets page. No booking is required. Simply start your tour at any of the gardens on the tour where you can pick up a map and directions to the other gardens.

Jane Byrne's Garden

Michael McMahon's Garden

Frank and Grainne's Garden

Grow Your Own Bread Day

We are hosting a free Heritage Week event on Saturday August 27th called 'Grow Your Own Bread'. Participants will learn about growing wheat and other grains in County Clare, see wheat being harvested, threshed and ground into flour, then baked into delicious fresh bread! Everyone will go home with a bag of wheat seeds to try in their own gardens next year. No booking necessary, just show up at the main building at our site in Capparoe, Scariff. The event runs from 10am to 1pm.

Guided Apple Tasting Tours

This year we are trying something new - guided apple tasting walks every Thursday at 2pm in September and October. These tours are ideal for anyone who is considering purchasing apple trees from us and wants to sample different varieties before deciding which trees to buy. It will also be an opportunity for people to taste the early and late varieties that we don't have available for tasting at our Apple Weekend on Sept. 24th and 25th. The tours cost €5 per person (children free) and will last approximately 2 hours. No booking necessary - just turn up at our main building before 2pm on Thursdays in September and October.

Upcoming Workshops

  • Herbal spa day - Sunday Aug 14th: This practical course will show you how to gather herbs from the wild and the garden and how to prepare them to make foot baths, body scrubs, face masks, floral baths, face creams etc.

  • Garden crafts for children and parents - Saturday Aug 20th: An afternoon (1pm - 4pm) of making garden crafts and decorations from natural materials.

  • Beekeeping part 4 Preparing hives for winter - Sunday Aug 21st: Participants will get a chance to harvest, extract and taste the honey from the ISSA apiary. They will also get a chance to handle native Irish bees and see what goes on in the colony in autumn (weather permitting).

What to do in the garden this week

  • We're having potato blight weather in County Clare - warm, overcast and humid. At Seed Savers we have found that the best strategy for avoiding the dreaded blight is to plant early and harvest early. (We plant in March/April and cover the emerging foliage with fleece to protect against frost.) By mid-August all of our potatoes have been dug up and put into our new barn for storage. If you see dark blotches on leaf tips and stems then you might have blight - as soon as you see the symptoms cut off all the foliage and stems to stop the blight from traveling down the stems and ruining your potato crop. Leave the potatoes in the ground for a few days to toughen up the skins, then dig on a dry day (if possible!) and leave on top of the soil to dry before placing in storage. They need to be stored in complete darkness as light turns the potatoes green and makes them toxic to eat.

  • You should be harvesting loads of veg from your garden and tunnel this month. If you grow tomatoes and want to save your own seeds, here's how to do it. Tomatoes are mostly self-pollinating, so even if you grow several varieties in your tunnel you can still save the seeds and they will be 'true-to-type' next year.
    1) Cut the tomato in half
    2) Squeeze the contents (seeds, gel and juice - not flesh) into a cup or container and label the cup with the variety name
    3) Half fill the cup with water
    4) After a few days a mould will form on the water which is a sign that the seed coating has dissolved. The mould will also kill off any seed-born diseases that may be in the seed.
    5) Pour off the water and any floating seeds (these are duds that won't germinate). The good seeds should be on the bottom of the cup.
    6) Rinse the seeds under a cold tap in a very fine mesh strainer (like a tea strainer).
    7) Put the seeds in a single layer on a paper plate (or an ordinary plate with some kitchen roll on it). You want them to dry quickly. Leave for a few days.
    8) Bag them up in a labelled envelope and store them somewhere cool and dry until next spring.

  • As you harvest crops and leave gaps in the garden, replant with another crop or a green manure, or cover with plastic or garden fabric to rest until next spring. Any open soil will quickly become weedy, causing you more work to dig the weeds out again next spring.

Kind regards,
Chrys Gardener
Project Manager

Irish Seed Savers Association
Co. Clare
Tel: +353-61-921866