Agharrow, Co Sligo, Ireland- Aside from being a registered nurse from America, I dabble in gardening. I have moved around quite a bit in the past three years from North Carolina, to Amsterdam and now Ireland. The pace and lifestyle in Europe is quite different from that of the States and also varies from country to country. I was a chronic “over thinker” but find it easier to relax here. In Ireland I am applying to the Bord Altranias to become licensed but life and processes move much slower. I am embracing this sabbatical and reinvigorating my love for gardening, among other things.
The first memory I have of gardening was when I was a we lass in Florida. I planted watermelon seeds in my backyard. The melons didn’t get that big probably due to lack of minding as I was quickly soiree’d into my dancing and piano lessons to care much for the fruit I had planted. In North Carolina I started a garden in the teeny backyard of my mother’s townhouse. I couldn’t believe the height of my sunflowers and definitely picked my carrots too early. I am most familiar with these hot, humid climates so moving to Northwest Ireland has become quite the challenge. Wind, tons of rain and a shorter growing season without a poly tunnel has left me scouring the library and internet for any information I can get for these typically, atypical conditions.
At the library I stumbled upon a book by Klaus Laitenberger called “Vegetables for the Irish Garden.” Klaus is a German transplant, expert organic horticulturalist who has successfully grown everything from tomatoes to ocas in Leitrum County which is the next county from me. I am planning to go to the Ardcarne Garden Center next weekend to hear him speak and get some advice. I want to go super nerd, breakdown and buy a copy of his book, have him sign it with a good luck note and get my photo taken with him. He is also the spokesperson for Soil4People, an organization that advocates soil fertility and sustainable land use. I didn’t realize how detrimental intensive farming is to the ecosystem and the soil. I am torn however. Every time I am out in my allotment ridden with scutch grass and rushes I wish for the farmer neighbor to come in with his tractor and plow through, easing my job. This quickly fades as I get so much gratification from pulling long roots of scutch from the mounds I have overturned, preparing my beds for my bounty!
By not thoroughly disturbing the land with a big ‘ole tractor or rotavator, I am giving my garden the best chance to be grown organically. Pests and their natural predators will flourish. The positives also include undisturbed earthworm channels, keeping good microorganisms and retaining healthy nutrients for my garden. In time and with some patience during my first season as a gardener in Ireland I’m hopeful that at least the Garlic will grow.