I bet, in many Irish households, there is at least one partner glad to see the back of May. A month that perhaps left them scratching their head thinking; “I can do nothing right!”
I am making this prediction due to #NoMowMay – a campaign which asked people to let their lawns grow in May in support of biodiversity.
I reckon this potentially caused a bit of confusion and even consternation for the designated “gardener” in many houses as the request would normally be, “would you ever cut the grass” rather than “leave that grass alone!”
What to do in support of biodiversity is often confusing and the advice and advertising can seem counterintuitive. Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist Dr Catherine Keena has been writing on wild Irish plants each week in A Week in the Country and this week its bluebells.
Note that I said, wild Irish plants as opposed to wildflowers. I asked her should we be encouraging people to plant more wildflowers and I was taken aback by how adamant she was in her negative response.
How could this be a bad thing, provided that the seeds come from a reputable source, are Irish produced and do not contain the dreaded blackgrass?
Her advice was that our pollinators need the native wildflowers that they evolved alongside. If possible, the ask is to mow less and by simply doing so, wildflowers like dandelion and clovers will grow.
Katherine O'Leary visited the Chelsea Flower Show last weekend where the winning garden was themed around rewilding. From her description, the event itself sounded more akin to a sweetly smelling Dublin airport with queues taking from her enjoyment. Read about Katherine's trip in Katherine's Country
Our own big garden festival - Bord Bia Bloom - also kicks off this week. The show organisers have sensibly limited tickets to avoid a Chelsea cattle mart experience but also - as COVID-19 is still lurking – to keep visitors safe.
There are a number of gardens with an agricultural focus. I spoke with the designer of the National Dairy Council garden, Sean Russell, about the inspiration for his sustainable dairy farm garden Living Life
The Department of Agriculture are taking the opportunity to drive home their “convert to organics” message to consumers with their Organic Edible Garden. This really is a chicken and egg situation.
Converting consumers to organics while we import 70% of our organic produce will do nothing to support our existing vegetable farmers who are on the brink of demise.
When conventional is gone and organic is the expectation, I hope that the Government-promised food ombudsman is in place to protect an organic premium vital to its economic feasibility.
Our ICL chef of 14 years, Neven Maguire, will be back on the Quality Kitchen stage at Bloom.
In March 2020, everything closed including Neven’s Cookery School at MacNean House.
Thankfully that time is behind us - for good we hope - and last week, the five winners of our Neven Cookware competition travelled to Cavan for the re-opening of the school.
This was the first time in two plus years that I have had the opportunity to meet with readers in such relaxed surroundings.It really was good for the soul with the sun shining and the beautiful aromas of korma spices, garlic and chilli, wafting through the air. For more about the day visit Never too much butter
I am looking forward to much greater interaction at 2022 events, from Bloom to the Ploughing. And for those asking and e-mailing and calling, yes, we are planning a 2022 Women and Agriculture Conference! Watch this space for details.