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Erris calling: native garden help, please!


 
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Lucy Weir
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 04 Jan 2015
Posts: 3
Location: Binghamstown, Erris, Co Mayo

PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:31 am    Post subject: Erris calling: native garden help, please! Reply with quote

Hello, all,

I'm a dreaded theorist, well versed in the principles and academic arguments for maintaining and restoring biodiversity in Ireland (and globally). But because I've spent the last ten years or so gaining academic experience and qualifications, I've neglected the practice of looking after our own wee patch. My husband is an excellent vegetable gardener, but this year I want to dramatically increase the biodiversity of our garden.

We'd like to develop our garden this year by creating, as far as possible, a garden that reflects the naturally evolved systems, including the plants and animals, of Erris. Our garden is a large rectangular flattish area, walled, that was a market garden in the 19th century and since then, that has been used both as grazing for agriculture, has been allowed to lie fallow for many years (in the 1950s it was pastureland and full of corncrakes) and while we've been here in the last ten years or we've tried to gradually clear the area of brambles, and have planted about a third of it with vegetables. We've also built a small greenhouse out of recycled windows, and fenced off a small area at the bottom for soft fruit (it's really too wet but the raspberries are beginning to establish and that's beginning to dry it out), created a pond (which was my husband's idea and I hate it because it has no inflow or outflow so although we get marsh marigolds, it's dreadful for algae. We do have a very few frogs though) and a wooden hut at the end (for practicing yoga). I imagine that before this area of the Erris peninsula was drained, the predominant vegetation would have been bog plants - particularly heather - but I know a lot of our soil is imported, and it's very heavy daube, so I don't know if heather will grow here. Also, I don't want to go to a garden centre (apart from the fact I can't afford to) to buy stock, since this will have a negative genetic impact, so I'd rather take a small heather plant from a place where people are doing excavation work and transplant it.

If you can help with advice I'd be very grateful. We need to grow our own potatoes, beans, lettuce, outdoors, and tomatoes, courgettes, etc in the greenhouse, for economic reasons. However, we'd love to support local biodiversity. I wonder if we could get enough heather going (I'd like to replace the turf gradually, bit by bit, by heather, and just have narrow paths, and an orchard at the end) to support a bee hive: we'd not take the honey (I doubt there'd be enough for this) but just see if we could support the reestablishment of some colonies here.

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Lucy Weir, Environmental Philosopher
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Sive
Rank attained: Chlorophyll for blood


Joined: 18 Apr 2008
Posts: 1731
Location: Co.Wexford

PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder would Michael Viney ( Irish Times columnist every Saturday ) be an interesting person for you to contact. He lives in Mayo and might be able to suggest local experts to connect with.
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Lucy Weir
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 04 Jan 2015
Posts: 3
Location: Binghamstown, Erris, Co Mayo

PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Sive! I have communicated with Michael Viney over the years. He's near Westport, and I'm in Erris, though, and the conditions are somewhat different. However, I really appreciate the suggestion. I've actually done quite a bit of research over the years - but it was all a bit latent until I decided to join this forum - so I'll have a look back through, and yes, perhaps I will contact Michael. There are also a couple of yogis on Clare Island who've done a lot of tree planting, and a guy from Connemara gave us advice. I did think for a long time that the conditions there were too different to be applicable here - the substrate/ ground rock here is quite different from that around Clew Bay - but I'm beginning to think we are not as limited, particularly with tree growing, as the landscape suggests. In other words, I think the reasons for the lack of trees/ species variety here is much more to do with social/cultural/historical conditions than geographical/ geological/ecological/ climatic ones. I'll keep you posted and many thanks for the response.
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