Monday, November 23, 2009

The city is awash with sound, so that you switch off your hearing a lot of the time and run on automatic, dimly aware of the cocktail of noises all about – a constant undercurrent of traffic, wind and rain this time of year, people’s voices, dogs barking, sound systems. But every so often an anomaly breaks through.

It being Saturday in the garden, and my gardening buddies away, I did a solitary round of the plots, checking up on the plants, looking at how the turning of the season shows itself. The blackcurrant and raspberry bushes are dropping their leaves now and are ragged and battered after the storms of the last few days. Our winter onions are doing well: the couch grass attack has been held back. The rhubarb is dissolving back into the ground. Herbs alone – especially the oregano – seem to be blooming.

A metallic ‘chip-chip’ sound registers: an unfamiliar sound. I look around towards the birch trees and there’s a flurry of a couple of small birds: what are they? We’ve seen robins, blackbirds, sparrows, pigeons - even the occasional bullfinch and wren up here – we’re close to the edge of Dublin and the wilds of Fingal I suppose, and there’s a nice mini-wilderness at the back of the garden.

I follow the two over to the trees around the edge of the school and hope they’ll stick around and stay still long enough to see them properly…one of them sits, I move over slowly: it’s a tiny little thing, surely a wren? But without the perpendicular (tell)tail sign. Closer: a bird shaped like a ball, about the size of a pool ball, and a white go-faster stripe against a brown body. Haven’t seen this one before – some kind of finch? I’m gonna have to go to google images later. Then a name springs to mind – a goldcrest…I wait for the bird to lower its head and not long after it duly obliges, does a little bow and there it is – a little yellow mohawk: a gold crest. Another little gift; a short burst of melody – something like a blackbird, though a few octaves higher – and it bounces away to join its companion, maybe to a nest in a large conifer across the road. See what they look like below...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Of cabbages and kings

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Be fruitful and multiply

In the Genesis account of creation, God commands the trees and plants to be fruitful and multiply. The miracle of multiplication was brought home to me digging up some heads of garlic a couple of weeks ago. Where a single clove of garlic had been thumbed into the ground in November, there was now a cluster of cloves, maybe fifteen on a head. This garlic seemed different to the larger yellowish bulbs that are for sale in Dunnes Stores and travel all the way from China. The Finglas garlic is whiter with papery purple skins.

This year we are going to try and stretch the planting season. Joey and Seán have planted sets of red and white onions over the past couple of weeks and also winter spinach. I put down some leeks at the end of August. Now that the light decreases and we are for the dark days, it is comforting to think of the onions and garlic underground fixing to multiply.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Digging up the first of the potato plants last night, I thought of the whole country's history. It's a simple act. It's just planting a few rows of potatoes and hoping for the best. Yet somehow all the primary school famine text seemed to frame the work.

A few weeks back Michael Viney wrote a nice thing about growing potatoes in his Saturday piece in the Irish Times:

--"What can they do to you really", I once asked rhetorically of the world's darker fortunes, "if you have enough land to grow a half-tonne of spuds?"--

It does indeed seem a triumph over the world's darker fortunes to wrest the potatoes from the ground, boil them with some mint and serve them up with salt and butter. It looks like there'll be quite a few days of doing just this as the rows have been planted at different time intervals and the plants are flowering in turn.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Raspberries or elderflowers... Gardening every Monday & Thursday from 7 pm...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summer Rains

Last Saturday it rained all day. I didn't mind at all because I knew the ground was getting a good watering. Since then it's been all dry and shiney bright so it's up to the garden and turn on the tap.

The onions and spuds are doing o.k. but the beans and peas are struggling, falling foul to the pesky slugs and snails.

I'm looking forward to making some meals with all garden produce, but for now the produce (chard, herbs, onions) is just a supplement to shop-bought stuff like in this tortilla.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Living off the land

We're still a long way from living off the land in the Finglas Garden, but are taking small steps to get there. Every week it's encouraging to bring home even one thing grown locally, like a fistful of mint or parsley. Thanks to Pears and Robin for the little surprise picnic in the sun on the lawn last night. It was refreshing to take a break after weeding and watering the cracked earth. So the spuds are coming up though some have succumbed to the wretched slugs. I get red-hot angry with the slugs. The other gardeners remind me of the Buddhists and peaceful co-existence. Yet the sight of the slugs and snails munching on healthy green leaves makes my blood boil. I'm making a type of mosaic path through the herb garden so if anyone has broken crockery or smashes some up over the next while, please save it for the garden path.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I hear Hugh Fearnley-Whittginstall has been lauding the merits of minimising the time from plant to plate. Not to be outdone by a celebrity chef I race from the garden on my bike and start brewing up the fresh peppermint tea lickety split. Then I wash off the onions and herbs and set to getting the clay pot stew in the oven before the nutrients fly away.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Farm to fork

Here's what's good for dinner right now - Pick some chard leaves, flat-leafed parsely and a fair few sprigs of fennel. Toss them on a pan with some oil and lemon juice. Add in some cooked pasta & a tin of tuna. I do double quantities to have hot dinner one night and then take the rest in a lunch box to work the following day. It's just as tasty as a pasta salad on day 2

Here are a few pics from Spring 2009 in the Finglas Garden: Daffodils, onions and rhubarb!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

'Grow your own Food' Stall at 'Independents Fair' December 2008

In December 2008 a Fair of independent producers was held in the Dublin Food co-op, Newmarket Square, Dublin 8. Finglas Garden hosted a 'Grow Food' stall at the Fair, giving out free seeds, flyers, home-made biscuits and information on the different food-growing initiatives in Dublin. Here are some pics from the afternoon.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

spring 2009

So what's for dinner?

At the moment there's chard, herbs and rhubarb.

We've planted spuds and onions and are planning a crop rotation with 4 different sections - roots, brassicas, legumes and a pretty big spud section.

At the moment we're going to the garden twice a week Mondays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. Drop by and get your hands in the dirt.