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I like to know if anyone is looking at my blog so please comment, if you can think of something, to say or e-mail me at madsmckeever@eircom.net

Monday, October 26, 2009

Students from An Tionad Glas

We were delighted to have two students from An Tionad Glas last week.
Joseph and Elaine podded lots of beans.
Then they saved the sweetcorn from the badgers by digging it up and putting it in the polytunnel. And that was just Monday.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bean promiscuity

A few red flowered beans turned up this year amongst the drying beans, Black Coco and what we call Turin (almost certainly fagiolo zolfino) and the green beans Tendergreen. The plants look intermediate between Phaseolis vulgaris, the commmon or 'French' bean and Phaseolis coccineus, the runner bean. The beans inside look like runner beans. So, I am wondering if these plants are hybrids. Last year all the vulgaris varieties were grown in the same garden as the Black Magic runner bean which has black seeds. Has anybody out there had any red flowered plants in their beans or know of any cases of these two species crossing?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tom Wagner workshop

This weekend could be one of those ones, that completly change my life, like the chance afternoon that I spent at Johhny's Selected Seeds, in Maine, way back in 1985. I afraid that if I take up the tweezers and paintbrush, all the equipment that you need to make deliberate crosses, that I will get hooked. Seed saving is like learning a tune that someone else has written, plant breeding is the equivalent of composing, a creative act. I am quite tempted to try on-line poker and heroin but I know its not a good idea. However plant breeding is a good idea but might cause me to compromise most of the other areas of my life and become the addiction it is for Tom.
.Here is Tom looking at a potato in my garden that I grew from true potato seed from a potato from Tibet. Below he is standing beside the mass grave of over 9,000 people who died in Skibbereen during the Great Famine.
He has created new varieties of potatoes using the old 'Lumper' variety, whose failure was the major cause of the Famine. By crossing them with blight resistant varieties he has restored them and he symbolically sprinkled their seeds on the graves of the famine victims.
What is preventing famine here now?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How much food do we need?

This time last year I gave a talk in Clonakilty on How much space we need to grow enough food for ourselves. I meant to put these diagrams up before now but didn't quite get around to it. they are based on some fairly sketchy research mostly from the internet and are probably not very accurate. The first one shows the yield per ha of some basic foods grown without artificial manure. The beef figures are based on a grass only diet.

This next one shows the amount of each food type needed to give 2700cals or enough food for a person for a day. Its a lot of cabbage.

This one shows the price per kg of the same foods.
This one shows the price of a million calories of each which is the number of calories an adult would need per year.
And finally the number of sq meters needed to grow a years supply of food for one person eating a diet of 40% cereals, 5% pulses, 30% fruit and veg, 20% nuts, meat and dairy, and 5% oil.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

sorry about the spam

I tried to put my customer address list into a Google group, so that people could subscribe and unsubscribe to my rare newsletters. It was infiltrated by spammers today, offering video sex chat, which would probably be more entertaining than my newsletters, however I deleted the group, and that should put an end to it. I will just post my warblings on here and not try and email newsletters any more. On a brighter note. The yacon, winged beans and perilla are all trying to flower.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ballydehob food festival

Ballydehob food festival was great fun this year. I am always a
bit wary of events up at An Sanctoir, a bit afraid I'll have to
hold hands with strangers and do a circle dance, or justify
raising animals for meat, but it wasn't a bit like that. There was
rabbit stew and a barbeque full of beef and fish.

Apple juicing, music, face painting, a demonstration on how not to damage your body when gardening.
There were talks about CSAs and bees, me going on about how much food it takes to feed people. Below is a display we
brought of food types, each screen containing to about 2,700
calories, or a days worth of food an active adult.
What I like best about things like this is I get to meet new people. Like Paul, who teaches horticulture at the Kinsale permaculture course. We got to talking about how to scientifically test if
biodynamic treatments work which is a subject under discussion on Zone 5. We also talked about whether Alaska Giant worked. I am hoping that they can come up with an experimental
design in Kinsale that could test this sort of thing and maybe get
the permaculture students to carry it out. Maybe some of the
students at Án tIonad Glás could replicate them.