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Primary School Class To Sell Their Own Veg

You may remember some months back, Fingal Libraries asked me to come up with and teach a 6 part gardening course to [including] Dan’s 5th class in the Educate Together School, Balbriggan.

Not only did class teacher Dan take it a stage further by organising the building of a garden for the class, in his and my spare time, but now he is to the point were the class produce is to be sold at the schools local Balbriggan Market, this coming Friday.

That mildly to one side, what I omitted from the audio above is that Dan also used the gardening class as the basis for their entry into the young scientists exhibition. Quite inspirational when you think about it. Also and still the best thank you card I have ever received 😉

Garden Talk @ New Ireland Assurance

new ireland assurance

A little note of huge and gigantic thanks to the very lovely and wonderful staff of New Ireland Assurance where this evening I gave a ‘Grow Your Own – In Confined Spaces’ talk/ demonstration.

People that make a place in mind, everyone sincerely was just absolutely lovely and as gigs go, I should admit I really enjoyed that one.

A wee note of extra added thank you to my liaise Emma from the well-being committee for being an absolute lady and also to the gent that is Maurice who made sure I got there and back in one piece. Legendary status has just been granted 😉

Myth: Grow Your Own And Save Yourself Money

grow your own and save money image courtesy artofmanliness.com

[image courtesy artofmanliness.com]

I have heard too many green companies people for far too much of the what can only now be described as the grow your own pandemic use the cliché:

Grow Your Own and Save Yourself Money

The question is, does it ? Does growing your own vegetables actually save you money ?

superquinn vegetables

A quick glance between Superquinn’s prices [correct as of 05/01/12] and what potato seed and onion sets [2011 prices] cost make me wish to mildly scratch my head, a lot.

I and you can figure the maths out on an abacus.

seed potato onion sets

note: All prices from supermarket websites were taken January 5th 2012 and show their normal prices before and after discount. To the potatoes alone, I know I was able to buy 10kg for €2.49 in Dunnes Stores up until recent.

lidl carrots b and q grow your own kit

I had noted the B and Q grow your own kits way back in 2009. But it seem how we grow our own has evolved so much more, or at the very least the range of products available to you to do so has.

[image courtesy edibleherbsandflowers.blogspot.com]

If we trail all the way back to 1917, the cliché may make a little more sense. Here it’s slightly more honest in todays relevance and notes ‘to cut food costs’. That however was a time long before compost at €4-7 per bag ever existed.

I spoke before about the gentleman I witnessed in the hardware superstore buying organic compost with miraculous powers [4 bags @ 6 euro each] one pot [15 euro] and non-organic seed potatoes [6 euro]. Throw in some raised vegetable beds instead if you should like – and you possibly have the most expensive spuds per kg in the country.

Back to the original question. Can growing your own save you money ? Personally, I believe it depends on how you [in this case] grow your own.

potato planting by hand

There is a bigger picture in all of this. And if like camping in 1980’s Ireland and Britain and its recent revival, the trend is to continue I believe the PR firms need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new slogan.

Maybe it’s just that as a 6 year old in Ireland in 1982 I chose to spend my pocket money on garden sieves as versus growing mediums, at a time when gardening wasn’t very popular and I was cutting grass to supplement my hobby – how times haven’t changed.

But from then til now aged 35 – I don’t believe my personal life outdoors [to an extent] and gardening has ever been about how much it cost me to enjoy my passion. It was more about who I spent the time with and in a different context, in my working life, what had or can be been achieved. Most of the time however it’s simply because I love what I do – and equally as important – I get to smile doing it.

ireland outside

Growing in Old Tractor Tyres

potatoes growing in old tyres

Perfect for small spaces and cheaper than chips! Tall as you like to stack ’em and just roll ’em if you need to move ’em…..

If made to measure raised planters aren’t your scene then this may just be for you.

As you can see these are old tyres in which plants are growing. The theory is pretty much the same as a large window box, except in this case it could be considered bottomless.

Perfect for potatoes if you like to mound the earth up around them.If spuds aren’t your thing and you really wish to keep things simple – just drop one on the ground, fill in with a suitable growing medium and scatter whatever seeds grow north instead of south.

I’m sure any tyre shop/ garage/ farmer would be willing to help you out…. The ground here is patchy and messy because it’s used for the chickens and is only starting to grow back. Also the spud foliage is dying off.

plants growing in tractor tyres

Grow Your Own Raised Beds

raised vegetable beds

If you are going to invest in raised vegetable beds for the purposes of growing your own kitchen garden or more, then there is only one real way to do it. Enquires, getting some built suited to your space outside or changes in design and style…. my contact details are below.

Build requirements:

  • Well built. Structurally sound, strong and solid.
  • Built to last for the future, well able for the Irish weather
  • Fit their intended use aesthetically

making raised vegetable beds making raised vegetable beds

Main ingredients:

  • 10cm x 22cm x 240cm new timber sleepers [10 x 8.5 inch timber]
  • 6.3 x 200 mm [8″ long] corrosion resistant In-Dex screws
  • butyl rubber lining

in-dex screw in dex screw hex driver

Of note:

  • The screws are expensive but – they are the modern version of a coach bolt and are seriously strong. So strong that a standard drill would not do the job of churning them in. Then again, they are 8″ long. Also they use an 8mm hex driver bit. Again, for the long term quality will matter.

dewalt saw draper spirit level

Know in Advance:

  • Timber can vary in length by up to/ about 10mm. When one is 230cm and the next 245cm – as precision goes, it matters and is is extremely important, for me. Measure twice – cut once.
  • Wood can twist and bend, slightly. This is not unusual – it’s just what wood is and what it does. It may need some working.
  • Spirit level is one thing – aesthic levels are far more important. This is not a swimming pool.

making raised vegetable beds making raised vegetable beds

Alternates:

One could reduce on timber quality and timber dimensions, but each of these beds will have 2- 4 tonne of wet soil forcing against it’s sides. Strong, durable and tough matters here and hence why the screws/ bolts are the quality that they are.

The lining could be done cheaper. However, butyl rubber is generally noted for lining ponds and again that amount of wet soil lying constantly against timber sides…. you simply won’t find a stronger longer lasting liner than this.

Quality counts:

The ground here had three different levels from three different sides. A spirit level is of benefit but so is a good eye for appearance. A mattock will dig perfect trenches.

The timbers are [the tallest] three high on their side – 66cm – the largest area of which is 240cm x 180cm. I didn’t want them to look like [silly as it may sound] big boxes. The alternated end corners help for that reason.

Above all the right tools for the right job and life will be made much easier less complex. The tools I use are not that that will put together an ikea type book shelf.

raised timber beds

After Construction:

This is a place as versus being thought of as labour intensive, I would like to be renowned and considered for being one of retreat, relaxation and escapism.

Next for this garden space, from the same timber I’m going to build a garden bench. If I could, I put a matching espresso machine in there too – hand-made, from wood of course. Select planting to the peripherals will also help make this more of a home. But, Rome was, in this case, very well built in a matter of days – phase 2, the growing, begins soon after the soil is hand balled in. 😉

Enquiries or further information on your made to measure grow your own raised beds ?

Ask for Peter

timber for landscaping