The SodShow – Dublin’s Garden Radio Podcast

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The SodShow – Dublin’s Garden Radio Podcast (mp3)

The SodShow – Fridays 3pm Live – Dublin City Fm

With Thanks To This Weeks Guest:

millets camping, mary street, dublin peter donegan, aaron scantlebury, brian greene

Listen to The SodShow Live @ 3pm:

  • Tune in: 103.2fm on your radio dial if you are in the Dublin area
  • Listen live online: every Friday 3pm via – on your phone or desktop

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Making Contact:


Free Fruit From The Wild

hedgerow fruit

Over the last few weeks whilst out walking I’ve had my eye on what is in fruit and what is not. Mainly from my own wild eating whilst walking in the wilds perspective. It does make me wonder slightly the point/ fine line between foraging and taking some and also as important just how much you should know of what exactly you are picking before you start to do so.

The big differ in confusion I note here is that between the Sloe and the Damson. That aside and more important it is the what is pretty versus what could actually cause harm. My golden rule:

if you do not know what exactly you are picking – Don’t Pick It !

The following are four edibles [and one not to eat] that I eat, have been eating and will be able to do so for the next few weeks. As you will read, frosts are sometimes a good thing. I’ll do 5 easier ones in the next week or so.

All of the following as a by the way can be found quite freely by ditches and hedgerows over the last few and coming weeks.

1. Sloe

sloe fruit

The Sloe. The Prunus Spinosa [also know as the blackthorn].

You’ll usually find this growing in hedgerows and near ditches. A decendant of the cultivated plum, it can take the form of a tree or bush. But usually one can tell the difference as the sloe [blackthorn] is extremely thorny – sounds simple ?

  • generally [5 petals] singular cream white flowers borne on bare stems in Spring that grow up to 2cm wide.
  • The Sloe, fruit harvested in autumn is round/ spherical in appearance and a pale grey/ blue green black in colour that can grow to about 1/2 inch in size.
  • The tree itself is deciduous can grow up to 5 metres tall and about 3 – 4 metres wide.

Best picked after the first autumn frosts as the plants tannins are naturally reduced/ removed. It has been described locally to me as the dryest fruit ever tasted – it’s not one I personally like to eat when I’m out and about walking, mainly as it tastes disgusting, verging on sickening – the greatest way to know that what you have picked is incorrect.

2. Damson

The Damson. Closely related to the Sloe/ Prunus spinosa – but – the damson or sometimes known wild plum is of the Prunus domestica. This could get confusing….

  • The tree/ bush may be slightly thorny – although it generally is not.
  • It’s white flowers are [also] borne in spring.
  • The fruit can vary in size, but [larger than sloe] can get to about 3 inches wide

Usually sweet, but it is noted that it can be a bit acid in some. This is one of my free lunches when I’m out and about – unlike it’s wicked sister [above].

My two images above are a bit dodgy – but they show the shape, rotund versus the oval that bit better.

3. Nightshade – Solanum dulcamara

Solanum dulcamara - deadly nightshade

BEWARE – not to be confused with the Atropa belladonna. The extremely pretty flowers of this plant look extremely similar to that of the Solanum crispum Galsnevin, both relations or/ of the Potatoe family. It is the fruit however that I’m holding in this picture above.

It is noted that it can be used in herbal remedies, but the trouble is it is also noted to have caused deaths. The bigger problem is that it may be confused with the deadly nightshade/ pre-mentioned belladonna, one of the most poisonous plants known to man. The poison in this case believed to be solanine.

4. Rose Hip

rosa canina

– Rosa canina. Found in hedgerows and competing quite well with the other vigours of the plant world, the rose hip is one of the greatest sources of vitamin C. The seeds can cause irritation [itchy-backs, anyone ? ] and I have never eaten them raw when I’m out and about – mainly as they taste diabolical and one seed swallowed would cause severe discomfort.

I have however used them to make rosehip syrup and with 20 times more vitamin C than an orange – this for me is the miracle cure for all of my winter snuffles. I couldn’t live without it…. if you know what I mean.

This as I know it is the ideal recipe for Rosehip syrup – the olde but a goldie.

5. Blackberry – rubus fruticosus

blackberry bramble

The blackberry golden rule for me is that [yes you guessed it] it must be black and it must come off in my hand with little to no effort. You possibly don’t need to know much regarding this one but funnily enough its [official plant] family is also the Roseaceae or rose – the exact same as that of the Prunus and therefore also includes as relations the Sloe and the Damson.

My only problem, as a human, is that I’m in competition with the animal kingdom for this food. That said my tip here is that you will find the lower fruit is by far the juciest !

That said, it is something I have picked as a child I fondly remember my Mom making jam with when I was a nipper. Personally, I like knowing it is there and similar to the Damson, knowing there is such a thing as a free lunch.


Ireland’s Top 5 Places To Camp


Some time ago I spoke with Aaron Scantlebury, Manager of Millets Camping Store, Dublin City. Aaron and I got talking about Irelands best places to go camping.

In short, Aaron and his team compiled and completed an in store survey to find The Top 5 places to camp in Ireland, as chosen by the people who liked camping. The following are their results and findings.

The top 5 places to camp in Ireland:

  1. Glenmalur Valley along Avonbeg River – Wicklow mountains [most admitted to being semi wild campers]
  2. Hidden Valley, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow.
  3. Carrowkeel Camping and caravan park. Castlebar-Mayo
  4. Actons Camping park. Claddaghduff, Clifden-Galway [although there were less votes – of note here is that they had by far the best comments than any of the others]
  5. Lough Ennell camping site

In relation to this survey customers were asked:

  1. Is this your first time camping?
  2. Where have you camped before that you would recommend to others?

The results of questions 1 & 2 above are as follows:

  • 42% were either first time campers who were purchasing prior to making a decision on where they were going to camp.
  • 23% were festival goers
  • 34 % therefore voted on the Top 5 Camping Places Survey

Aaron sent this email with the survey results

Hi Peter

attached is the list compiled. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of customers were either camping at a festival or had never been camping before and were trying it for the first time [most of which switched the question back on us to ask us for a recommended campsite!].

It should also be noted that the survey was carried out throughout the month of August which was our peak trading time and when compared to last year, the style, purpose and nature of camping gear sold was vastly different to the same period last year. This is also indicative of the results of our survey.

It was a revealing survey that we will expand on next year. Certainly it does not reflect the “at hand pointers to camping sites” that are available to the public via the internet and government “approved” sources!

Aaron Scantlebury, Manager
Millets Camping
61-62 Mary Street
Dublin 1

Other questions we asked included:

  1. What are your recommendations based on?
  2. Are you upgrading your tent/equipment and if so why?
  3. What was the main reason for making your purchase with us today?
  • Value for money.
  • Specification of product
  • Service provided.
  • Brand loyalty.
  • Other.

Aaron will be live in studio on The SodShow this Friday to discuss this. If you have any queries you can leave a comment here or contact me via

woodland way

John Perkins speaks at The University of San Francisco

Following my writing of the post The Real Green Irish Company, an email came in.

It read as follows:

Take an hour out and listen to this.
Maybe you know it all. But I think he resonates with a lot of what you say

I thought I should share it with you….


The Real Green Irish Company

peter doneganIn conversation with a friend of mine this week, I got talking about the multi-national companies and the not so international, in Ireland.

Let me clarify that. It was not a doom and gloom usual type of ‘Irish televison does more poltical type programmes than it does sport type of natter‘.

To the point. What we were chatting about was the fact that being green is seen as a good thing. If nothing else, from a PR/ public relations perspective.

To an extent, it seems the huge card-board cheque that was held for the usual photo shoot has been replaced. And let’s be vaguely honest about it, within the next week there will be a small plethora of the not unusual type of photographs of some gentlemen in a shirt and tie, laptop in one hand, a unicycle in the other with possibly a lovely lady or two somewhere in the photo frame. All of them smiling and jumping for joy about [random example] reducing the energy they may consume or the all new brand spanking green gadget that will save the planet.

Over coffee we queried and quizzed and pondered

I wonder just how green are these companies, really ?

The imaginary company in my head is based in an industrial – the name says it all – estate, or in Dublin City Centre. It doesn’t really matter. We came up the suggestion that Mr Tokoyama, my imaginary friend who likes to invest in Green Irish Businesses, takes a trip to The Emerald Isle to see into just what and where his money will go.

Que the man in the illuminous yellow security jacket and blue cap stands out of the steel structured security box and opens the barrier to the large concrete expanse of a car-park. The tall building entrance is there to greet and it surrounded by a landscape that was most likely designed pre the [potentially non] Irish company deciding that logistically or fiscally this would be a fine building for them.

As we cross checked and dissected water dispensers and light bulbs, heating systems and ventilation units all the way down to the alternates of opening a window as versus air cooling systems, we spoke about the re-use of envelopes and writing cheques and driving into work. And as the varying sub headings poured off the top of my pencil, all the while the words industrial and estate sat as the header in one column as people and happy sat in the other. The words alone, simply do not sit well together.

We spoke about the alternate. The change. The mind set.

We proposed that our imaginary company stay in the industrial estate. That bit is important. But we proposed that the landscape be handed over to the employees.

What I suggested was that the grounds and surrounds be turned to allotments. This not only saves the company money on grounds maintenance and grass cutting, but it gives the people who work there a reason to stay after work if nothing else but to manage their greens. Not only this, but now picture Mr Tokoyama coming up the driveway.

We pictured the security inspector stand beside his hut now complete with a living green roof. The water run off from the office roof is now managed into water butts which would be used for irrigating the allotment spaces and once per month the excess vegetables and fruit would be sold at a lunch time staff only farmers type market that would be held in the grounds of the now extremely interesting landscape.

There is of course the point were if the car park was being resurfaced that it could be done in grass that cars can drive across – but this was in our long term plan, for now at least. This of course before we get to the electric car charge points and the in-house mini-version of the Dublin Bike Scheme.

Back to it – where grass remains mulching mowers would be specified and used causing now no need at all for the charge of green waste and reducing the amount of diesel and petrol. And where necessary composting areas now existed that could and would be filled with green waste, shredded paper and lunch time apple butts all ready to be re-used in the growing gardens.

The chat steered sideways with workplace conversation now about garden advice. The dilemma that one may face when they decided to take their holidays and to whom and what instructions would be left to look after ones plot.

Solar panels for autumn lighting, wind turbines to make a cuppa on a winters evening and the annual inter departmental mammoth pumpkin and onion growing competition. Wildlife and biodiversity walks and talks in an industrial estate ?? Garden classes held in the grounds, the official opening, donating the food for a local fundraiser – the press and the public relations would quite simply be endless.

If nothing else my good friend did hollar

Can you imagine that for a staff newsletter….?

Internationally, should you be able to imagine that on a company blog, the words admirable and exemplary immediately come to mind. Personally, I think the response would be phenomenol and rightly so.

Being perceived as being green is one thing. Being really green it seems is another. I’d like to meet the CEO who makes that call.

Contact Peter Donegan

The Real Green Irish Company, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 26th September