Monthly Archives: August 2017

August: Garden update

We are definitely having an early autumn this year. Leaves are already beginning to turn and blackberries are ripening. While the summer seems warmer than last year, these last few weeks have been showery with very few dry or really warm days. In the garden, we’re enjoying the first plums and apples but like last year the pears have a very bad case of scab and are splitting and seem inedible. Not sure if this has been exasperated by the damp and often humid weather.

The weather has definitely brought on the potato blight, which we get each year. But this year the potatoes did go in on time and those we have harvested are a good size. Cabbages too are appreciating the plentiful rain and where not ravaged by slugs, snails and caterpillars are getting big.

Runner beans have done much better than last year too. Not sure if it is because I got them in early and they had a couple of warm, dry weeks in May to get well established.

 

Interestingly the courgettes outside are doing better than the one in the polytunnel or greenhouse. The older plants have established much better.

Bumblebee pollinating courgette

Bumblebee pollinating courgette

Carrots again failed to germinated well and / or were eaten by slugs! The same with beetroot, which last year I grew in modules before planting out. I must remember this for next year!  Squash, are small and will probably not come to much. I feel that each year you need to grow a variety of vegetables and then hopefully something will do well!

Mini squash

Mini squash!

So is growing your own vegetables and fruit a sign of “thrift” – defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully”?

Heritage Week Events

During the last week of August (19th August to the 27th August) Ireland will be celebrating National Heritage Week. This year the theme is “Nature and People”. Heritage Week, which is co-ordinated by the Heritage Council, is a celebration of all things heritage and involves people around the country organising events, walks and talks and much more (and many of them are free of charge).

I will be involved in a couple of events during the week.

Biodiversity in your Garden will be held at the Country Life Museum at Turlough County Mayo. This is a family workshop on Tuesday, August 22, from 11am to 12.30pm. This workshop is all about biodiversity, sharing practical tips and ideas on how you can help nature and planting some butterfly and bee-friendly pots to bring home to your own garden. This is a free event but booking is required. Telephone (094) 90 31751 or email educationtph@museum.ie with your contact details (name, address & phone).

Green veined white

Green veined white

The Foxford Riverfest is an annual celebration of the River Moy held in Foxford, Co Mayo. I will be doing a wildflower walk on Saturday 20th August at 12 noon. No booking require. All welcome to this free event.

tortoishell 3

Finally, I will be doing a pollinator walk along the River Glore. Meet at Glore Mill, Kiltmagh, Co Mayo on Saturday 26th August at 3pm. Booking required. Click here for more details.

 

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You can find out about events around the country at the Heritage week website.

 

 

Tourmakeady woods

Today, our amble was at Tourmakeady Woods in County Mayo. It is a lovely woodland walk. We took the path along the River Glensaul, then followed the red walk loop that goes around the lake, past Tourmakeady Lodge.

The sun was shining and there were lots of butterflies about, but the stars were the Silver-washed fritillary, of which we saw seven. These large butterflies are often seen in deciduous woodland. The caterpillars feed on violets.

Silver-washed fritillary

Silver-washed fritillary, hiding in the falling leaves

The woodland, was one of sixteen chosen to be part of the People’s Millennium Woods to commemorate the new century. The project involved the planting of 1.3 million native Irish trees.

Tourmakeady Woods

Tourmakeady Woods

Not having been there before, and only reading up on the site on our return, I see that we missed what is supposed to be a lovely waterfall which was on another path than the one we took!! Never mind, something to see the next time we visit.

Peacock

Peacock, determined not to show it’s beautiful colours!

 

 

Climate Change – An Uncertain Future

Climate change is very much the elephant in the room. We know it’s out there,  we know the climate is changing, but very few of us are actually talking about it.

In recent weeks, a huge iceberg (5,800 sq km, which is about the size of County Mayo) broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in the Antarctic. This is a very visual image that we can physical see the effects of a warming earth.

I have just read a fascinating essay by David Wallace-Wells, who expertly summarises the many changes our planet will, and is experiencing, because of climate change.

Entitled the “Uninhabitable Earth” and appearing in the New York Magazine,  it makes for a very worrying reading. Wallace-Wells has interviewed hundreds of eminent scientists and combined their science, views and predictions into a very readable article.

I urge anyone, whether you view yourself as a climate change believer or skeptic to read the full article.

Just a few observations outlined by Wallace – Wells:

  • The Arctic’s permafrost holds 1.8 trillion tons of carbon. Melting permafrost (as is already happening) could release this into the atmosphere
  • In the last 30 years, we (or human activity) have released 50% more carbon into the atmosphere than in all the time humans have been on earth
  • Some of the latest data suggests that the planet is warming at a rate that is twice as fast as what had been previously thoughts by scientists
  • In the sugar cane region of El Salvador over 25% of male farm workers are suffering from chronic kidney disease, thought to be a result of dehydration while working in fields they used to be able to work in without difficulty

 

Sea levels will rise

Sea levels will rise

It is a very uncertain future we face. We need to make a huge cultural shift in the way we think, and the way we do things, if we are going to slow down the effects of climate change. And I say slow down, because personally I think we are gone beyond the point of stopping it.  Is it a future we can leave in the hands of politicians who only look at things in the short term? Here in Ireland, the Climate action and low carbon development act 2015 and the recently published National Mitigation Plan do not even begin to address the seriousness of the problems we face.

In Ireland, the Citizen’s Assembly, are asking for submissions on “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change“. Here is an opportunity to have your say.  Submission deadline is the 11th August 2017.

If you are interested in finding out more check out The Stop Climate Chaos website.