ISSA e-zine 14 July 2011

In this edition -

  • Start of the Seed Harvest...

  • Public Talk on Bees at ISSA by Tim Rowe, July 23rd...

  • Thanks To Open Day Volunteers, More Needed! ...

  • Galway Wheat in Inis Glas...

  • Upcoming workshops...

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

Start of the Seed Harvest

It’s that exciting time of year again, when we celebrate and harvest the first of this year’s seed for processing. The picture above is Swede Turnip seed drying in Horticultural Therapy Unit polytunnel, with plastic underneath to catch any stray seed. Brassicas, as you can see, are particularly generous when it comes to seed formation, producing thousands and thousands of seeds per plant.

Seed Harvest

Public Talk on Bees at ISSA by Tim Rowe, July 23rd

The Rose Hive

West Cork beekeeper and author of the ground-breaking book, The Rose Hive Method – Challenging Conventional Beekeeping, Tim Rowe will be giving a public talk at Irish Seed Savers on Saturday, July 23rd at 7pm. . Tim will be discussing the plight of bee populations the world over, while also addressing the potential his “Rose Hives” have in encouraging a more natural, healthy and simple form of beekeeping. Definitely try to make it along to Capparoe, it’ll be worth the visit!

Thanks To Open Day Volunteers, More Needed!

We got a fantastic amount of people volunteering to help out at our open days on September 24th and 25th (in exchange for free entry, a yummy lunch and a free t-shirt), but still need a few more. So if you’re interested, or know someone who is, definitely get in touch! You can call us at 061-921866 or e-mail

Frequently Asked Questions - Part 1

Many thanks to everyone who filled out our online supporter's survey. I would like to address some of the comments and questions that came back from supporters, with more in the next edition. The supporter comments and questions are in italics, with my response underneath in plain type.
Q: Maybe you could use social media to promote Seed Savers more – Facebook, Twitter, etc.
A: We've been posting 'tweets' to Twitter for some time now, and have just launched a Facebook page! If you are on FB please like the ISSA page -!/pages/Irish-Seed-Savers-Association/207716899251129

Q: Would love to see you give classes or talks in the north east as unfortunately Clare is a bit too far. (This question/comment came up quite a few times.)

A: We find it difficult to respond to every request to give a talk or demonstration due to the distance and the amount of petrol needed to drive across the country. We are an environmental organisation struggling to reduce our carbon footprint, and also the staff are pretty thin on the ground and it's difficult to send someone off for a 1-2 hour talk that requires 4 hours of driving each way! The solution is to develop a network of supporters in different parts of the country that can help us out at events, so if you are willing to staff a stall at an event or give a talk in your local area on your experience with ISSA seeds and fruit trees, please get in touch! We can supply you with brochures and publicity materials to hand out, and some guidelines on promoting ISSA.

Q: I continually forget when my membership is up but it would be handy if there was a way of checking online, or if a reminder was sent out beforehand.

A: Renewal letters are sent out by post each month to supporters that are due for renewal. If you move house please let us know so we have a correct address for you. Our upgraded website will also be able to send out automatically generated email reminders each month. If you don't receive either a letter or email reminder, give us a ring and we can look up your renewal date in our database.

Q: Would love more information/interaction on the website – ever considered a forum for supporters?

A: Yes, now that the upgrade to the website is almost complete we have plans for our IT person to set up a forum for members that would allow them to share information, and possible set up a supporter seed exchange as well! For now, the facebook is being used occasionally as a focal point to swap seeds, a great use for social networking!

An Illuminating Aside

The Illuminating aside

The picture above shows just how precarious the existence is of some of the crops conserved here at ISSA. Galway Wheat was once widely grown (though not commercialised) in Connaught but appears to have been reduced to the edge of extinction. Although hard to make out, the picture shows just 4 tillered plants located down on our land in Inis Glas which germinated from our only batch of seed, and we were unable to locate stores of the crop elsewhere. If you come for a visit, keep an eye out for what may be the last 4 plants of this variety in the country.

Upcoming Workshops

What to do in the garden this week

  • Pruning of fruit trees and soft fruits should be completed this month before the buds open.

  • Early crops can be sown directly into polytunnel beds, such as first early potatoes, peas, broad beans and salad greens.

  • Some cold-tolerant crops can be sown outdoors now, such as peas and broad beans. A bit of fleece stretched over the planting and secured with stones will keep some of the heat in on cold nights. These crops can take a light frost and actually grow better in cool weather than in summer. Peas are climbing plants and will need a sturdy trellis for support - I use stout poles or saplings cut from the forest spaced approximately four feet apart, with chicken wire (aka 'poultry netting') stretched from pole to pole. Remember that many pea varieties can top six feet so make sure your trellis is tall enough, and stick the poles a couple of feet into the ground so the whole thing doesn't topple over in windy weather. Another more rustic support can be made by using 'pea sticks' - a double row of twiggy branches stuck into the ground at an angle to form an 'A' shape to support the vining plants

  • Cold-tolerant annual flowers, such as pansies, violas and calendula can be started indoors now to set out in the garden next month. Flowers in and around the veg garden help attract beneficial pollinators, and some of them, like the above-mentioned flowers as well as spicy nasturtium are also edible!

Kind regards,
Chrys Gardener
Project Manager

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