Monday, June 29, 2009

Upcoming courses

Here's my proposed schedule - dates and time to be firmed up over the coming week.

July 2009:
• Succession planting – year round food from your garden. It’s not just for summer!
• Creating unique seasonal preserves – Strawberry

August 2009:
• From the garden to the Larder - Pickling, freezing, & preserving your crops.
• Creating unique seasonal preserves – Plum.

September 2009:
• Adult and child pizza making. A fun activity you can share – and eat the results!
• Sourdough and artisan breads. Photogenic & delicious loaves that you can make in your own home.
• Free food – recognising, collecting, & using Nature’s wild bounty.

October 2009:
• Making Chutney. The perfect winter preserve.
• Adult and child pizza making.
• Preparing your garden for the winter. Get everything in shape for the next growing season.

January 2010
• Grow your own food – 6 week course to prepare for a bountiful harvest.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Self Sufficiency at Belvedere

It's all over - and what a whirlwind it was! Seems like the exhibitors and presenters were well recieved, and the visitors seems interested and engaged. In our little Freecycle/Artisan Breadmaking Sheebeen, we talked to loads of people, baked countless 'Rubbish' flatbreads with the help of lots of volunteers, young and old. I woudl have loved to have seen more of what was going on, but we were flat out the whole time.

Lots of interest in all of my courses, and in freecycle. So now we need to put dates and locations to the proposed courses, and make them happen. This should be a lot easier for me now, as I got laid off last week. Great timing - it would have been difficult to pull off the Belvedere show, while working :-)

Readers of this blog will know that my passions lie in these (gardening, breadmaking, teaching) areas, and while I loved my IT work, it will be no harm to have a little break from it. I was in that job for nearly nine years, which is a lifetime in the software business.

Anyhow, expect to see a lot more frequent posts!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Program of events at Belvedere

Saturday Seminars

11.00 Composting and Care of the Soil Making with Will Sutherland, Seymour School.

12.00 Starting your own Fruit and Vegetables Garden with
Will Sutherland, Seymour School

13.00 Brewing your Own Wine and Beer Completing the Cycle with Shane Conroy, Home Brew Company.

14.00 Preserving and Storing Fruit and Vegetables with Will Sutherland, Seymour School.

15.00 Traditional Bread Making with
Anna Browne, Organic Teacher.

16.00 Bee Keeping Techniques with
Jim Donohoe, BBG

Sunday Seminars

12.00 Traditional Bread Making with Anna Browne; Organic Teacher.

13.00 Brewing your own Wine and Beer with Shane Conroy, Home Brew Company

14.00 Saving Seed - Completing the Cycle with Jo Ann Newton, Irish Seed Savers.

15.00 Poultry Keeping and Breeding, with Joe Payne, Poultry Breeder.

16.00 Brewing your own Wine and Beer with Shane Conroy, Home Brew Company.

17.00 Bee Keeping Techniques with
Jim Donohoe, BBG

Saturday Demonstrations

13.00 Split Rail Fencing with
Paddy Murray, Deerpark
Lakeside Arena

14.00 Bee Keeping Demonstration. Midlands Bee Keepers
Lakeside Arena

15.00 Scything and Grass Management with Will Sutherland, Seymour School.
Lakeside Meadow

Sunday Demonstrations

13.00 Split Rail Fencing with Paddy Murray, Deerpark Sawmills Lakeside

14.00 Bee Keeping Demonstration with Midlands Bee Keepers; Lake Side Arena

15.00 Companion Planting & Medicinal Herbs with John Smyth, Belvedere House Garden Market in Lakeside Meadow

Self sufficiency show at Belvedere

I'm very excited about this - I'm the breadmaker below, and Brian is hoping to organise a Freecycle Live meeting!

Belvedere Self-Sufficiency Show takes place this weekend Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th June. The show is based on John Seymours famous book The Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency and also will have in attendance co-author Will Sutherland from the Seymour School in Wexford. A new area on the estate has been specially created for the show, Lake Cottage Model Farm will have poultry, pigs, goats, donkeys, vegetable and fruit plots, craft demonstrators including basketry, pottery and wood turning. The lakeside arena will have BeeKeeping, Split Rail Fencing and Grass Management demonstrations.

Seminars on Home Brewing and Wine Making , Bread Baking and Poultry Breeding will take place daily. Contributors include Irish Seed Savers, Crann, Midlands Beekeepers and The Home Brew company. Exhibitors include, handmade Ark chicken coops, Freecycle a new web based method of recycling and organic food stalls with nettle potato breads and wild roasted salmon. Belvedere master gardener John Smyth will give a seminar on companion planting and medicinal herbs in the GardenMarket on Sunday. The aim of the show is to reinvigorate people in the ways of Self Sufficiency and is an ideal opportunity to come along and learn the old skills. For a full list of seminars and demonstrations log onto

The Minister for Food Trevor Sargent TD will perform the official opening at 2pm on Saturday 27th June. Belvedere normal admission rates apply and there is no extra charge for the show.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Self sufficiency show

I have been invited to demonstrate breadmaking at a self sufficiency show in Belvedere.

I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to demonstrate something which takes hours in today's world of short attention spans. I'm thinking about making flatbreads on a pan, as it's a very quick process, but would love to hear any other ideas or suggestions.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Here are the recipes that I used for making Elderflower Cordial, and Ginger Beer. They are wonderfully simple to make, and use cheap or free ingredients. If you are concerned about the additives in commercial drinks, but are finding water a bit boring, here's a good compromise.

The Elderflower cordial has a myriad of uses - you can mix it with still or sparling water, it adds great flavour to an Apple Crumble or Gooseberry fool.

It's also mentioned as a remedy for hay fever or sinus problems, so the undergardener is drinking it to help with being stuffed up. I usually make a few batches, and freeze them in plastic bottles, so that we can have the taste of summer whenever we like.

Labels: , , , ,

Fund raiser success!

Yesterday at Mullingar Educater Together- where I volunteer as a gardening teacher - we had our annual fundraiser. It's called the Big Day Out, and it lived up to it's name.

For the past 3 years, I have been responsible for the Green Stand. In 2007, I had lots of harbs and vegetable plants for sale, but no one was interested. Last year, we gave away flower seedlings, grown by one of the classes. Also, that class was working on the stand for that day, helping kids to pot up their free seedlings.

This year we took it a stage further. We grew all kinds of seedlings, and other gardeners brought their excess seedlings as well. We made Ginger beer and Elderflower cordial, and since it was a really hot day, we almost ran out of stock!

The vegetables and herbs were much more popular than the flowers, and we could have sold a lot more fruit plants if we had them. Fifth class were there to help throughout the day, and we would have been lost without them. We didn't sell out of plants, but we sold a lot more than I would have anticipated, and we can use the left overs in the school garden.

Next year, we'll have to focus on growing the things that sold well, and have pictures of what the plants will look like when mature. But all in all a very successful day.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Plant sale - date for your diary

On Saturday, June 13th, there will be a School fund raiser for Educate Together National school. Starting at around 2:30, it takes place on the ground of the school, beside the mullingar harriers club and Ardleigh.

With 5th class, we have been preparing lots of interesting plants, and they will be for sale on the day. Lots of delicious food, games, child friendly atmosphere. All welcome - hope to see you there!

Labels: , ,

Mutant Calendula


We are growing Calendula with the potatoes as a companion plant - this one is doing something very surprising - Just below the flower head, more flower heads are springing up - I have never seen this before...
Posted by Picasa