After Hurricane Irene, people weren’t the only displaced creatures. Many pets were in need of rescuing, and due to the efforts of Animal Control Officer Meredith Petrillo, the Animal Welfare Federation of NJ (AWFNJ) has given her its 2012 Hero to Animals Award.
Archive for March 31st, 2012
Growing your own food
Wednesday, 21st March 2012
Growing your own food is surely one of the most rewarding pastimes anyone could have. Eating fresh salads from the garden and digging your own spuds may even bring us back to basics and give us and our children a break from our techno lives. There is nothing nicer than coming in after a hard days work in the garden with dirty hands and knowing you have planted your early potatoes and onion sets.
It also makes economic sense. Many families are struggling to make ends meet and recently there was a disturbing report that families are now spending less money on food in order to cover other household bills as well as economising by buying cheaper and often lower quality food (rather than good organic food).
If only people knew how easy it actually is to grow your own. My advice is to start small and then expand as you get more experienced.
My home garden is 15m x 30m (45ft x 90ft) and we get all our potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, beans, parsnip, beetroot, spinach, cabbage, kale, courgettes, pumpkins and salads from it – to feed a family of seven. I calculated that we save well over a euro;1,000 and thats not all – we get delicious fresh organic vegetables with no chemical residues from it.
Gardening exercise is healthy, fresh air is healthy and fresh organic food is healthy. We have no excuse not to get out there and get started.
Even if you dont have a garden yourself, you can look out for a local allotment or community garden. There are plenty of them around the country. Last autumn I watched a woman with her two small children digging out the potatoes they had planted in spring and Ill never forget their faces – as if they had struck gold. From only 2 square metres they nearly got a whole wheelbarrow full of potatoes. This excitement and sense of wonder and bounty of digging out potatoes or pulling carrots will never leave you.
You can join up with the GIY (Grow It Yourself) movement. They have an excellent and very informative website: http://www.giyireland.com and if you require practical help getting started, look at another excellent website: http://www.quickcrop.ie. Both sites have tutorial videos on how to grow almost any vegetable.
Unfortunately you cant grow every vegetable outdoors in Ireland. We just dont get enough warmth for the more sun-loving Mediterranean vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergines, cucumbers and melons. Thats where a polytunnel or greenhouse will prove invaluable. With the help of some indoor space you can extend the growing season substantially. You could harvest fresh salads all year round and you can definitely grow the most delicious tomatoes youll ever taste.
Polytunnels are a lot cheaper than greenhouses, but greenhouses are a lot more attractive. Have a look out for reclaimed materials (windowframes, timber, etc) and with a good builder you are half way there.
The author of this article, Klaus Laitenberger, has grown organic vegetables for over 25 years and has published two excellent books on growing your own:
Vegetables for the Irish Garden
Vegetables for the Polytunnel and Greenhouse
Both books are available from: http://www.milkwoodfarm.com and bookshops throughout the country.
He is also the co-founder of the Vegetable Seed Company http://www.thevegetableseedcompany.com that specialises in varieties that are suitable for the Irish climate.