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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, December 27, 2010

Happy New Year

Fennel outside the front door
Mount Gabriel
Icy Feverfew
Turk Head Pier
Snowy Driveway
The snow is all gone now, but it was beautiful while it lasted. We got most orders in the post, that came in before Christmas, but getting to the post was tricky. Now its raining :(

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Solar Power

We have had some PV solar panels put on the roof of the barn. They should make us pretty energy self sufficient. They are connected to the grid, so we can use grid electricity during the night and our own power during the day. On sunny days we will be exporting to the grid.
The panels and inverter were fitted by Jerry Cotter and his very efficient team from Micropower in a less than three days. I am looking forward to getting the hot tub on for Christmas.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

15 Online Shopping Days to Christmas

Whoopeee...... The new catalogues have arrived. In spite of the weather they made there way from Ecoprint in Dublin and are all stacked up ready to be enveloped, stamped and posted to all our customers. Don't forget what good stocking stuffers a packet of seeds or two can be.

Mr CD and his team are busy making up gift boxes in the office. There are some new ones this year, a Salsa Box, and a Staple Box (with seeds of staple foods for you and your chickens, not the kind for attaching wire to posts). There is a Weird Vegetable Box, a Herb and Spice Rack Box and aSeed Saving Box. If none of these intrigue you you can always Design your Own Box by selecting 4 packets of seeds, and naming it yourself.On the window sill you can see the Armageddon box, always our most popular gift box and also our Seed Saving booklet which could save you a lot more money than it costs.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sorry the website is down

Hello, I am sorry the website is down as I forgot to renew the domain name. We are getting a new all singing all dancing website made at the moment which is pretty exciting. The paper catalogue is with the printer so we should have it soon too. If you would like an electronic copy of the catalogue please email us. The snowy picture is of our orchard. I hope you are all keeping warm. Madeline

Friday, November 26, 2010


Mr CD has something to tell you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Naked Oats

The two patchy looking rows in the foreground are naked oats, sown in autumn 2009 and photographed in March this year. The rows were about 3m long and the total yield was just over 1kg. I am trying to decide whether to sow it all again in spring, or sell it in 10g packs to curious growers. Not much point in having a dehuller if it is too successful. It is second from the left in this pic.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finally, a Bowl of CSA Porridge.

Last year we became members of Bantry CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group and became proud owners of some of the oats. Oats have a hard shell around them called a hull. Chickens and sheep are able to digest them whole. Cattle are happy with them if they are rolled however people prefer them dehulled. It proved impossible to find anyone to dehull them and In May we bought (with some financial help from West Cork Development Partnership), this machine from Horn in Germany. The instructions came in German, and although we were aware that it would not dehull every single groat we were initially a bit disappointed with its perfomance. Kinsale CSA brought down some of their oats, and found someone to translate the instructions. After a good afternoon playing with the settings and running the oats through a few times they started looking pretty edible.
So, we tried ours yesterday. After dehulling they were washed to float off any remaining hulls. We also put some of our own sunflower seeds through the machine which worked quite well and we added them to the oats along with a hand-full of our own dried gooseberries, and a little of Tim Rowe's honey. It was a delicious breakfast. The porridge tasted really nutty.
We would be delighted to dehull your oats for you too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Interspecific Beans

Last October I blogged about beans that seemed to be crosses between Black Coco and Zolfino (Turin) drying beans and Black Magic Runner beans. Red flowered plants, presumably F1 crosses, appeared in both drying bean varieties in 2009 and yielded Runner bean type seeds (F2). There weren't many seeds and only seven of them germinated, of them only five flowered. All the F1 plants had red flowers but of the f2 plants one of the Zolfino crosses had pink and and the other white flowers. The three f2 black coco x plants had red flowers.
None of the pods had more than three beans and many had only one. One of the Black coco crosses was a climber. The rest were dwarf. Some of the plants are still green and the pods on the white flowered and beaned Zolfino cross plant have still not really ripened while one of the Black Coco plants was completely dry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trial by Abuse

In 2005 I saved some true seed from some Nepalese blight resistant potatoes. I grew several hundred seedlings. Below are some of the tubers from that first year 2006.

Over the last four years I have grown them out every year, usually treating them really badly. For example, one year I didn't get around to lifting them till it was time to plant them again. Other years I have forgotten to weed them. A couple of years ago we taste tested them with the students from the Kinsale Permaculture course and narrowed them down a bit further. This year I left the tubers in a bucket until sometime in May when they looked like prunes with long green sprouts, then I planted them.
When I lifted them earlier this week there were three types left. The best yielder was the pink and white variety. I decided to call it Ardagh Susan after my sister who died earlier this year. The white variety was a very smooth skinned and scab resistant. It will be Ardagh Autumn after my elder daughter. The solid pink one had rather poor skin but was the 'flouriest' I have decided to call it Ardagh Holly after my younger one.
I have put away plenty of seed potatoes in the beautiful apple storage box that Mike made. he copied the old one that Sylvia gave us, and Bridget and Noel kindly brought back from England for us. It is full of apples now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Naughty corner

The talet seeds I got from Radix in March have done well. I wrote a blog entry about them at the time. I planted some of the plants out under a young apple tree, between some Belville sorrel plants.
It has all got a bit jungly now and I can't see if it has produced any underground pods, but it has seemed quite happy growing up its cane.

The others got a place in my cramped polytunnel in what I came to think of as the naughty corner. I have a soft spot for the weird and wonderful like achocha and bottle gourds, which are pretty vigorous.

The talet was tucked in between these two bullies and in spite of a pretty random watering regime produced quite a lot of flowers and pods.

Again, I don't know if it has produced underground seeds, it would be difficult as the ground cover would stop the flowers going underground.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Every year I try to grow some new varieties and crops. This year I grew Camelina Sativa.
It is a member of the Brassica family and was very little trouble. I grew a square meter or two and did nothing more than weed it occasionally. Although an ancient agricultural crop grown to produce oil, its current claim to fame, is that its oil contains up to 45% omega 3 fatty acids.
The biodiesel industry is also interested in it, as it is a very stable oil and it can be grown in rotation with wheat. It is a less demanding crop than wheat.
The birds rather liked mine and harvested quite a lot of it for me. The seed they droppped came up and is now flowering.
I have a small crop to play around with and try and make some vegetable oil out of, but will keep some seed to sow again next year, perhaps as part of my, grow your own chicken food, campaign.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cereal quiz

Who can identify these cereals? I know what some are but I am bit confused.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On the "Star"

We were delighted to have our "Open Day" covered by Nora Strong from our local Newspaper, The Southern StarHere is our first red tomato, a Latah.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Catherine Fennell's book HOME GROW & COOK WHAT YOU SOW

We went to Ballincollig last Saturday for the launch of Cathrine Fennell's book, HOME GROW & COOK WHAT YOU SOW. She has an infectious enthusiasm for growing and cooking her own food. We are delighted that she will be coming to our Open Day on June 6th to sign books.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lentils from Glengarriff

I was sent these lentils from Elizabeth who lives in Glengarriff. They were lost from the Swabian Alb in Germany and rediscovered near St. Petersberg. They produced a crop in Glengarriff so we are giving them a go. In spite of the cold weather they have come up outside.

Monday, May 3, 2010

more maca pics

I bought a packet of yellow, and one of red maca, but most of the seedlings came yellowy -green. Two are red. I included the grubby finger for scale.

Monday, April 26, 2010


The maca survived the winter and looks quite happy amongst the weeds. There isn't a lot of it and its not very photogenic.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gortahork cabbage

I am not a big fan of cabbage but it is popular especially the giant Gortahork cabbages that the Irish Seedsavers distribute. Most appeared to have died in the bad frosts but green shoots are emerging from the slime. We should have seed this year. The spring cabbages Offeheim mostly died in the frost. Out of about 100 plants 20 have survived, heavy selection for a cold winter. It is a small population to save seed from.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Talet, like it is

These seeds arrived in the post today from Owen of Radix. His blog is the most entertaining one I know of. Also known as the American Hog Peanut, Amphicarpaea bracteata is native to eastern North America and was a popular food of native Americans. It can reproduce either by flowers which open and are pollinated, or by cleistogamous flowers (which develop into seeds without opening, following self-pollination). The cleistogamous flowers can be above ground or below ground. The seed pods are both above and below ground. It will be interesting to see how they do here. I would love them to naturalise in the woods. I have potted them up in the polytunnel and will pamper them this year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monsanto patents heat tolerance in brccolli

Do you know where your seeds are coming from? It gets scarier and scarier; have a look at this

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Visit To Knockvicar Gardens and Lough Bishop House

We were invited up to Knockvicar Organic Gardens at the weekend for their seed swop. I was feeling really ill on the way up and was grateful that Mike did most of the driving. We stayed at Lough Bishop House on Saturday night as a treat and because we wanted to see their Moilie cattle. Helen and Christopher Kelly's hospitality was wonderfully relaxing and I would have liked to stay for longer. The seed swop at Knockvicar was impressive. There is a lot going on up there. A great crowd turned up and there was a showing of the film ‘Our Seeds: Seeds Blong Yumi’ as well as a talk from me on seed saving. Delicious vegetarian food was provided by Maison Djerbi. Thank you to everyone who made it a great weekend for me.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nigel's Trug

Nigel lives on Sherkin and mostly messes around with boats and plays the accordion. He also makes very handsome trugs. If you would like one you can contact him here nigelctowse@yahoo.co.uk
And, you can look at his boat here