Pictured above Peter Donegan with Con Traas of The Apple Farm.
Located between Clonmel and Cahir just off the N24 lies The Apple Farm of Tipperary, is a 60 plus variety 35 acre apple orchard that also grows some plums, pears and other soft fruits.
A little drive down the avenue however and you will find yourself parked outside The Apple Farm Shop that only sells it own on site made produce, made solely from its very on site grown produce. This shed as a by the way also doubles up as the booking office for The Apple Camping and Caravan Park that Con’s parents set up in 1982.
Last week I took some time away from horticulture [?] and decided to spend 4 nights camping there. And without question and by a very long country mile The Apple Farm is one the top spots I have ever had the honour to pay money to and stay in.
Sunday 7th August, saw a revisit to the Slí na Sceacha also known as the Hedgerow Society as the group took another journey through the ditches and outback of some of Dublin’s lesser known lands and trails.
From field grown potato to brassicae and from what are soon to be the finest apples and blackberries [all free gratis], this time the group took what we called the fruiting trail. Brilliant from an exercise and fresh air perspective, more than that it is time spent with others in the great outdoors surrounded by nature.
It is a question that comes up a lot…. Mainly from people who have a job, 42 kids, a life, a dog and a door bell. A lot of which will fit into the category of
I’ve got maybe 10 minutes in the evening. It’s not enough time! what can I do to grow my bits, something, anything, in the garden… ?
I’m not going to write some big bible crapola on what you can do. This post is put simply what I am doing. What I planted last year and what takes little or no effort.
I’m going to split this post into four parts. Tall, medium and small – plant them and walk away and the bit you could potentially call farming.
The first is what for me was and is an investestment, of sorts.
It’s the fruit trees and the like. They are planted once. Paid for once and require very little attention thereafter. You see the fruit. You pick the fruit. You eat the fruit.
I have written many times on trees in this blog. The how to plant will never change. It’s what you plant that’s important. The key is to chose the tree to fit the space from an eventual size, growth per annum and type of fruit you want.
I personally have 10 eating apples, 5 cooking apple, 5 pear and 5 edible cherry trees. But don’t let that impress you. I have experimented with some fig, apricot and olive trees but really, you should just choose what you like in the amount that will suit you and the type. There’s some maintenance in everything [even tarmacadam], but it’s minimal if you do your homework. Here’s five you can try that will give you a return pretty soon. In your case – just remember there’s usually a reason why a tree will be cheaper. Buy once. And buy very well.
In this category
The second group don’t grow as tall and are really great in small spaces, balconies and apartments and as with the trees, can all be planted in pots, if you wish.
Once again the same rules apply. You plant the fruit, pick it – when it appears and then eat it. Some say the rhubarb needs the stools split, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Similarly the bushes will need some select pruning the same as the taller trees… but not much. The correct purchase should mean a handful of clippings as versus a trailer load. Once again. Buyer be [very a]ware. But once and buy well. It will pay you back.
The third lot are the lower growers and in fairness if you have a set of pots and pans your regular picking will be all the pruning it needs.
Not much to it after that… and not much more to say being quite fair.
The last lot is something I don’t really want to list and require a little or a lot more attention.
But if you have any amount of category 1 and/ or 2/3 in your space you already look green. So now you can choose less of these babies depending on the time limit you have. If you’ve been following Philips 3 square metre farm patch on the podcast – you’ll have a better idea of where I’m going with this. Moreseo, you’ll better appreciate why I agree that 3 square metres is more than enough to keep your home filled with produce.
Last year I grew the following – and more – but I won’t bore you with the gory details and will tell you the ones I found the easiest. I grew all of these in old pots, pint glasses, window boxes or whatever could contain some amount of soil as a by the way.
The reason these are in a group all of their own is because unlike the other groups… with this final batch – once you crop it or it comes to the end of the season you must start all over again the following year and grow them again – where the others generally speaking – just keep on giving.
What about that for a relationship. I ignore you for an entire year. And then you arrive at my home and say
….here ye go buddy, have a big box of juicy apples
Ah sometimes I’m just so ruddy hilarious I crack myself up 😆
So I could have put the image of the seedlings at the top and told you of my years of studying horticulture – but being really honest this post is about encouraging those who aren’t so green who’d love a dabble and would maybe like to look a bit greener. In that same breath it’s not rocket science. And anyone who tries to tell you different is full of it.
You don’t need an allotment, an acre or a garden [Great for you if you do]. You need a window ledge, or a balcony or a small patio – maybe it’s some jam jars or 2 hanging baskets – and you also need an ability to smile, because sometimes a plant simply decides it doesn’t feel like growing where you want it grow. The it’s not you it’s me scenario. But ultimately, one should remember any plants sole purpose on this planet is to reproduce and as long as you understand that – it will do what it’s supposed to do.
For this gardener, I’ve never bought super dooper compost, a propagator kit or miraculous growing fertilisers. Ever. Not for food crops. In fact I’ve never even bought a soil testing kit. I give all of my plants no special treatment.
What I will say is I maybe have a better understanding of plants and a happy confidence in the fact that it will grow. But…. any gardener that says they know it all and has never got it wrong is most likely in a straight jacket. That said, I still talk to all of my plants. I play the vinyl player when I am gardening in my spare time and most important of all I enjoy it.
The problems that usually arise, garden wise, are best described with hindsight being that of 50:50 vision, in the context that once one sees the plant in its fullest glory one may wish they had planted some of this or that, that could only be there if planted some months previous.
For now, it is February. For your garden, patch or space – Go forth – give it a lash. Let me know how you get on. If you do have any problems…. I’m here for you when and if you need me. Don’t forget to smile. 🙂
where: ballyboughal [just outside Swords, north Dublin]
when: saturday 21st August 2010
time: 9.30am – 3.30pm
cost: €75 – including morning tea, lunch and all materials
numbers limit: minimum of 8 and 12 people max
Who is it for:
If you don’t wish to farm your entire garden
or remortgage the house so you can garden full time
If don’t [or do] have an allotment
or you simply wish to gather the simple basics to get started
whether you have a window ledge or a small patio
or just wish to grow in pots on that amount of space
I’ll assume you have a life, possibly kids and a full time job
or just enough time in life between eastenders and the 9 o’clock news.
A similar set up to the previous GYO class, the theory is that in one session you will go home with enough skills to be able to look after yourself from a grow your own – without the use of a tractor – point of view 😉
if numbers are 8 or more it’ll run – if not no bother. If you do put your name down keep an eye on this blog post. But I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t. Weather won’t pose a problem. Numbers will include only the first 8/12 names down on the list.
There’s an idea:
interested in having your very own personalised class done at your place of work or home for your group of friends or colleagues…. ? contact details above.
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