Growing Wild

With Dr Catherine Keena

Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist

Crab apples

Look out for crab apples. They are not ideal for Halloween apple games, such as ‘bobbing for apples’ or ‘apple on a string’, as they are far too tart to be eaten raw, but they can be used to make crab apple jelly and jam.

Valued for its sugar content long ago when sugar was scarce, crab apples were stored for the winter. It was one of the noble trees, along with oak, protected under Brehon Laws. Trees were cultivated on ring forts and townland boundaries. Many trees now found in hedges were planted only two hundred years ago and are hybrids between wild and cultivated apples. Crab apple is part of our native Irish biodiversity.


By Michael Creagh, author

He gave this Gift to you and me

The gift of things we daily see...

... The way a swallow engineers,

A house of clay to last for years,

The way a spider spins her nest,

No human trap to match it yet,

The hover of a hawk in flight,

The wonder of the sky at night,

The salmon’s sacred swim for home,

The structure of a honeycomb,

The grace of swans upon a lake,

The veil of a web as dawn it breaks,

How ivy walks upon a wall,

The glory of a waterfall,

How tadpole turns from spawn to frog,

The beauty of an Irish bog,

The blue grey haze of on far off hills,

The way a worm he toils and tills.

Boundless beauty all around,

More beauty than can e’re be found,

In woven words from you to me,

Constant conjured mystery,

A mystery, too, to think about,

The way we’ve worked to wipe it out,

Will we not weep, and wonder when,

All life on Earth must start again?

The greatest mystery of them all...

... How we got this Gift at all.

Number of the week: €5,000

The amount of the annual tax credit provided within a farm succession partnership over the five-year period in which the farm is transferred.

Picture of the week

APPLE OF THEIR EYE: Eighteen-month-old Poppy Nelson had a great day out on her grandparents’ farm in Hillsborough, Co Down. She helped her Grandad tend the cows and also gathered the apples. Her favourite part of the day, according to her grandmother, Olive, was getting her wellies hosed down when they were all finished! \ Submitted by Olive Nelson

Quote of the week

The name ‘jack-’o’-lantern’ comes from an Irish sean scéal about a man called Stingy Jack. People carved scary faces into turnips and lit tea lights inside to scare Stingy Jack away – as well as any other spirits.”

DB O’Connor of Killarney Pumpkin Farm

Online Pick of the Week

In this week’s Meet the Maker,

Maria Moynihan speaks with Irish fashion designer Heidi Higgins. The collection is available at

Designer Heidi Higgins, wearing the "Carmen" dress from her collection.

Chef's tip

Janine Kennedy

We purchase and grow huge amounts of pumpkins at this time of year, but – of course – this is mainly for decorative use as we make Jack-’o’-Lanterns with our children. I love the smaller cooking pumpkins in both sweet and savoury dishes and, at Halloween (just after Canadian Thanksgiving and a few weeks before American Thanksgiving) I always crave pumpkin cakes, puddings and pies as well as exotic pumpkin coconut curries or gently spiced pumpkin soups.

A great, simple way to enjoy pumpkin is to simply remove the seeds and inner membrane, slice into large wedges, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven for around 30 minutes. At the end of cooking, drizzle a generous amount of maple syrup and return the pumpkin to the oven for another ten minutes. Delicious!

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Welcome to a week in the country

Welcome to a week in the country