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

Gardening Doesn’t Have To Be Hard Landscaping

It was very recently when building a patio for a client that I realised my garden blog may just have proved of some worth to another. I’ll get to the patio in a little, but to begin with my usual sidetrack, I don’t particularly know why I started to write a gardening weblog being quite honest. I think it was more just a way to put my extra curricular thoughts, albeit still gardening, somewhere.

I see things in newspapers you see, I read them and I wonder what planet has this person come from ?

you see the hens will eat the weeds in between my plants and….

And I wonder have the author and the said omnivorous creature ever lived together. I’m almost tempted to ask their opinion on which come first. And before anyone queries the meat eating bit, I have allowed edible mollusc’s to be entered into the newly elected category named fodder.

There are a few things in my garden that I know are sacred. They are surprisingly, maybe, the things that require very little attention. The smart moves. The pat yourself on the back at some stage in the future moments when you realise, you just saved yourself a lot of hassle.

Being honest, anyone who believes that there is a maintenance free solution to the great outdoors has most likely lost the plot [see what I did there… ]. One may believe that tarmacadam or even concrete is a viable solution to the prevention of photosynthetic life in their great outdoors, but the opposing  argument nee conclusion is that so long as it is possible – and it is – for any plant to find a means of setting up its home in the chimney stack of a house that is taller than me and you, then plant life will find a way of defeating man made. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

The alternate as I noted in my article on camping last week is not to try to beat the elements. The reality is man will never win.

…one develops a feeling, almost an understanding, not of how all the elements work, more how to work in tandem with them.

Instead, I found it better from a very early age in gardening to admit that weeds will always grow, that the plant we love best will always have an aggressor, a potential successor and also that understanding their life cycle is so much better that trying to change it.

When for the aforementioned client I laid the last area of paving, this being the something that was read on my gardening blog, the request was to leave gaps in between the patio slabs.

But the options when laying paving are very limited. On the one hand one covers a surface area with a solid surface that will, whether intentionally or not, attempt to keep water from penetrating that particular space. This may appear to have zero holding over a client who owns a garden the size of a small farm, but in a new garden, where space is limited, the drainage is poor and the soil not so great, one is quite simply pushing the water onto the part of the garden that is already finding it difficult to cope with draining that amount of water away. The other option, I shall come to shortly.

En mass, hard landscaping [?] is having major repercussions to the point that, as reported by The BBC, the London Assembly environment committee is asking for legislation to be introduced to limit the number of gardens that can be turned into paved areas. That bad, you might ask ? Worse. In January The Guardian reported London is losing 7410 acres per annum as a result of driveways being concreted in.

In Ireland some may believe that we don’t have issues of the Hydrogen Dioxide type. We may not, so long as the tap continues dripping and nobody complains. But as individuals when water metering does become statute, I see many Dads in sandals with socks, buying much aqua saving clap trap. And just as Johnny Cash kicks off on the wireless, the paraphernalia will be loaded onto the bandwagons and it is coming down the track. I have seen the future and that it the way it shall be.

So what the fork has this got to do with gardening….?

If you have been following my Tribesman articles you’d be aware I did a list for those that may wish to make changes to their gardens some weeks ago. A make a start sort of a wish list. But wishes aside we are at the cross roads were I may need to consider re-watching that Michael J Fox film from 1985.

I have planted trees to deal with the excess of weather stress testing to provide shade, to ease dehydration but also in places where the soil would water log. They are my gardens AirTex t-shirt, that splash of water on my face, my wind break and the thirstiest friend on a wet day. My grass is allowed to grow long in sections to attract wild flowers and my planting is loosely chosen but somehow includes flowering for almost every month of the year. My water butts mean my garden is disconnected from the mains and the fact that I use the word biodiversity as it suits me, at will and as an excuse for the non croquet parts means I don’t need to sprinkle my lawn.

Don’t get me wrong I made a built in barbecue. In my defence it was from recycled cobbles and although it used cement, it only used recycled rain water. As versus the 1880 invention by Thomas Campbell.

I may well just be the greenest man on earth as far as Galway is concerned but my garden is just that. The quest is to first strike a balance. And from there, together we shall proceed. This really does deserve a four page piece but alas I’m all out of words and I’ll hit more detail on this next week.

Greensax Compostable Bin Liners

I got a bag full [see what I did there 😉 ] of the Greensax range in the post this week.

first, two things of note:

  • They’re an Irish engineered and developed product on the go since 1992
  • The greensax bags break down in composting within 10-14 days

This is why it gets a post here on my blog, all to itself. I love it. Love it, love it, love it!

They do all of the sizes from the 13 litre wee kitchen compost bin all the way to the large 240 litre brown wheelie bin – and they fit – which means you can throw your veg peelings, still in the bag straight on the compost heap. Now that’s logic.

More information over on

Promoting Local – LoveFresh

Are you a local egg supplier in Ballyboughal ? Maybe a parsley grower in Tubbercurry ? Maybe you are are an ethical traveller and looking to eat the most local produce possible ? What if you did and found a cheese producer in Bandon and simply wanted to tell the whole world about them ?

One of the hardest things, even for me living in farmland county nowhere is finding the most locally sourced produce. The fact that it maybe organic or homegrown is [and so it should be] to your preference, but what if you wanted to globally make a difference ?

Someone it seems just has. What if I told you that via technology local could become international….?

Personally, I really enjoyed listening to Mark Spofforth and the story of Lovefresh

Call it what you may – but once again this is the individual doing something for the greater good and promoting what is local rather than what is greater for a promotional body. It is more than that putting the small guy, the local guy live on the map for the entire world to see and that has to be a good thing.

What do you think….?

Contact Mark and his friends at Lovefresh

  • Lovefresh on the web
  • Via Twitter @lovefreshHQ or Mark @MarkSpoff
  • email:
  • telpehone: [0044] 0207 617 7183

I like this bit for producers….

Producers – we connect you with your community! bridges the gap between producer and community by providing producers with some simple, social tools. We will soon be rolling out our Producer specific features;

– ‘Claim’ your location and provide contact details and opening times, which are then viewable in the app. As people travel near you, they will be advised of your location and can contact you with a click.

– ‘Blip’ ‘What’s Fresh’ on a daily basis, to anyone who is local to you.

– ‘Menu’ allows you to maintain a simple 10 item list of what’s good, fresh and in stock.

– ‘Profile’ lets producers curate their favourite photo’s, audio and comments about their business. From within the app. A superbly easy way for you to establish a web presence, with a few clicks.

We want to encourage you to interact with your community. Our goal is to make that very easy for you to do.

We hope you’ll get in touch with us so we can get you involved in and help your business thrive. Contact us here, or e-mail so we can set you up as a Producer Beta Tester – which will give you early access to all features, as we roll them out.

Give us a call if you’d like to chat more.



The Sodcast – Episode 16

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, all good podcast stores.

Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 15 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

Always nice to know people are listening. I got this from Bernie Goldbach who heard it all the way from the US of A. One can be inclined to forget this is the worldwide web.


As regards garden sizes I work on….. I sincerely don’t mind what size your garden is….. as long as I am in a garden I’m happy 🙂

This Week On The Blog:

Links For The Podcast:

Images For The Podcast:

This Weeks Oddities:

Development of 3 x 40 minute colour coded self guided Tours / walks consisting of audio commentary, music and digital images which will be available to download at the visitor centre, online and also preloaded onto reusable media cards for insertion into mobile phones

And Finally:

Courtesy of @SeanMcDGrange alias Sean McDonald

It’s North Sligo. It’s mid-November. There’s a storm brewing. It’s 9 degrees. And the Ice Cream Van is here…


And finally, finally…. There were a few people who were simply amazing the last two weeks…. those who know, know the story. Thank you. For the rest of my life you will be forever remembered.