The past couple of weeks have seen a surge in seed orders across Ireland. Coupled with beautiful weather and nothing much else to be doing, half the country will probably be in the garden this weekend and into next week. Very often people talk about daffodils, roses and the greenest grass when discussing their garden but the current focus is on food. Images of emptied shelves in shops has got people thinking about supply chains and self sufficiency. The greenest of lawns are being turned over to vegetables. Vegetable seeds are replacing pansies. There are lots of edible flowers so all is not lost for flower lovers.
It’s a good time of year to realise how dependent we are upon the global food supply chain . Spring is the most opportune season for realising it may be a good idea to grow our own food closer to home. If we are smart, learn fast, get the whole family involved we can ensure a bountiful harvest that will help us feed ourselves into 2021. Someone in Clare set up a GIY Grow It Yourself group on Facebook and the membership has grown very fast with lots of people sharing ideas, advice, plants, seeds, hopes and dreams for a bountiful garden.
I highly recommend checking out the main GIY website and many other resources on growing your own food. There are lots of videos, books, support forums, groups and contacts on the internet. See if there is a local GIY group in your area and if they are online. Many people have spare seeds and young plants to give away at this time. Usually there are seed swops and plant shares at this time and into May but they won’t be happening this year so put a call out in your area and someone might drop some to your house or local shop for you.
Check with a local farmer if they have any spare manure or topsoil if you need it. If you live near the sea then seaweed is a great boost for crops. There are lots of online shops for gardening supplies but you can easily get started with items from your recycle bin. I love this video from Dee at Greenside up Kitchen Garden.
Ireland is very dependent on the export market to generate income. We are also very dependent upon imports to provide a lot of our food. Consumer products we mostly export are beef, dairy and alcohol. We import tonnes of carrots onions, apples, potatoes and many more fruits and veg. Here is a report by RTE on the Central Statistics Office information for 2017 about our import and export figures. WITS World Integrated Trade Solution data is here. Even more statistics from the Department of Agriculture and the Marine here.
I will explore food in greater depth in other blogs but for now I’d like us to consider how we have begun to imagine harvesting our own food. It’s such a satisfying feeling when you get to harvest that plant you have seen through to maturity. Even if we’re only replacing one item we buy. Garlic for example. It is soooooo easy to grow in Ireland and we spend loads of money importing it. With Covid19 we face an uncertain supply chain for our food in the coming year. Maybe it is time that we consider feeding ourselves personally and as a nation. Now that we are making unexpected changes in our gardens can we adopt those changes forever? I hear lots of talk that we must not return to business as usual. Growing our own food can also help the environment.
Happy gardening and stay safe.
28 March 2020