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Doorus Orchard's Garden

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Doorus Orchard's Garden

Doorus Orchard's Garden

My garden is a community garden. It's on the ground of an An Oige Youth Hostel, Doorus House, beside the sea in the west of Ireland, on the edge of the burren. The soil is light and limey, over limestone bedrock, generally with no subsoil, though in places there is a white sandy clay. The garden is a walled-in garden dating from 1870. There are a few of the original trees left, a fig, 4 apples and 1 pear. We have planted it up with 50 types of Irish apples from the Irish Seed Savers Association, in addition to which we have put in plums, damsons, greengages, medlar, mulberry, quince, apricot, almond, peach, nectarine and 2 types of outdoor grapes.

There is a good group involved at the moment, we have a beekeeper, who has put in a hive, and a group who are making a roofed in outdoor clay pizza oven, for open days, we have 2 pollytunnels and a veg. patch, and myself and Anna Jeffrey-Gibson run fruit and vegetable growing courses in the garden and Youth Hostel.

The soil is beautifull where there were old beds, deep, stone free, and full of seashells. It can be very dry though and a bit hungry, so lots of organic matter required. I use seaweed fresh from the nearby beach, and chicken manure, well composted, but I keep meaning to get some proper farm yard manure. Our main problem is the entrance gate to the orchard is quite narrow and everything has to come in on a wheelbarrow, no trailers or mini tractors will fit!


Winter preparations and this years calendar

07 November 2011 18:54:49

November 2011- Oh what a mess the garden is in!!! Somewhere between the cold summer and the wet autumn I got destinctly demotivated...... and the weeds got ahead of me. I spent today digging out overgrown beds in the tunnel and outside and planting garlic. It's tough work when it's all covered in creeping buttercup!!!! Every year I chastize myself for not keeping beds covered as soon as I harvest...and this year more than ever.

However I was not sitting around doing nothing, looking out at the miserable weather, for the past month or so. I have been promoting the 2012 edition of the Irish Kitchen Garden Calendar and teaching the autumn evening classes. But it's all quieter now, the evening classes are finishing up- just a four week fruit gorwing course starting next week in Kilcolgan left.

 So no excuse to get in and tidy up the whole veg pach, sow some field bean green manures, cover up some other beds with mypex or seaweed and generally put the garden to bed for the winter.

The calendar is for sale in lots of venues nationwide and online at www.kinvarasustainableliving.com


September 2012- Heritage apples

12 September 2011 13:39:29

What a summer!!!!

I found it very hard to keep the spirits up this summer. The grey clouds were ever present, the cold at nights played havoc in the tunnel, the dry has left alot of trees only just hanging in there, and the storm in May and this one now have really bookened the whole season. 

It was however a good season for alliums, salads, legumes and potatoes, and flowers. So I should try to cheer up a bit, but with a force 10 blowing outside it's challenging!

We have got apples off most trees this year, and it was good to taste them. I picked a good few trees clean on Saturday on account of the forecast, some a bit earlier than they might have been done, but I was afraid the apples would either fall or break the young trees in the storm.

So some feedback-
Kerry Pippin has cropped well year in year out and is a tasty if tart apple.
Gibbys Apple won the taste test though, not the most appealing to look at, small and very dark red.
Ard Cairn Russet has thick leathery russetted skin and was too bland for our family's liking, but juicy crisp and sweet.
Yellow Pitcher is a tasty eater too and a good size.
Widows Friend is a very tasty early apple. Love this one.
But we have 2 each of four types of Croftons and none of them do well, perhaps they like wetter soils better? They come from Sligo/ Roscommon. In the Orchard at Doorus the trees are spindly, and the apples small, cracked, and fall unripe.
Barnhill Pippin
is a very prolific cooking apple. A huge strong tree.
Sheep's Snout could probably have done with longer on the tree, might sweeten up with storage.
Golden Royal
and Golden Spire had signs of watercore, so I'll have to work a bit harder on the soil Ph for those two.

Managed to miss a few apple trees. It's quite hard to keep tabs on 50 odd varieties and when they're ready. I'm compiling a list so in future years we can know when to check what tree. The information that came from the Seed Savers is not always correct, and certainly apples were early this year, and earlier still in the shelter of the walled in garden. So an apple down as late September was fallen and gone by the end of August! Live and learn.

Have been working on this years Irish Kitchen Garden Calendar and it's back form the printers and up on the website and out in the shops, so that's great. Got some really nice pics of Irish gardens in this year. It's amazing the great gardening work that is going on out there and alot of it by the OPW. Glenveagh got the cover picture, the place looks fabulous and I'll definatley try to make it up there for a visit. Go to www.kinvarasustainableliving.com for info on calendar and stockists etc.

Dick Dick 12 September 2011 14:21:09

You have quite a variety of apples. The apples in the Photo look really good. I suppose quite a number were brought down by the wind to day.

rosburke rosburke 12 September 2011 20:57:33

that picture is making my teeth water. am planning on getting a few more trees, ida red & charles ross. any ideas on those.

May 2011

01 June 2011 09:50:47

Well what a busy spring.  And how strange, May weather in April and April weather in May.  After such beautiful weather for fruit blossom, and great fruit set, the leaves on the trees have all been burnt by salty gales- but the fruit have hung on for dear life, so here's hoping for a good harvest.

It would appear most things are making a come back after the cold winter. The fuchsias are back, the escallonia is recovering, the succulents on the green roof of the gazebo survived, which is amazing. The one thing that has died are the white buddleia, the blues and purples are all fine, funny that.

I have got a lovely job, helping Kilcishin in Co. Clare get going with their own community garden,, thanks to Clare Rural Development Company. I'm really enjoying passing on what I've learned since setting up Doorus Orchard Project in 2005, and to be paid as well!!! Imagine!!!

At Doorus Orchard, we are about to start a 'Backyard Food Production' course with a dozen participants, who over 6 weeks are going to learn to grow fruit and vegetables, outside and in tunnels, keep poultry, bake in clay ovens, and make jam and chutneys. It will be great to get a gang like that involved in the project and the garden should be looking ship shape this summer. We plan to put in a proper compost 3 bay heap, an acidic blueberry bed, and build some cold frames from some great second hand windows I acquired. So my ambition to tame 4 areas per year should happen this year, last year I only managed 3 ( one of which is gone a bit wild again!!) 

On a final note, we will be having our giant pumpkin growing competition next autumn, so last chance to sow seeds and get going!! Go on have a go. 

Anyway, I'm off to net whats left of my redcurrants form the birds................................

Myrtle Myrtle 01 June 2011 11:55:48

Lovely to have a job which is also your hobby.

Cloncaw Cloncaw 01 June 2011 23:00:17

Makes it much easier to get up in the morning when you enjoy your job sounds as though your going to be busy.

Spring 2011

04 April 2011 10:54:24

What a great fortnight of weather we've just had! I have all my spuds in and those at the local primary school where my kids go, and at the local secondary school where I teach horticulture.

The plums are blossoming like mad and I hope todays gales wont damage the blossoms too much. I'd love a good crop of plums this summer, they were so tasty last year.  We have 10 plum trees in the orchard, a mix of damsons, greengages, eating and cooking plums. The tastiest by far is the Early Transparent Gage, which was a greeny yellw and very sweet, a close second is the Mirabelle Gypsy plum, which is also a very vigorous grower and consitent cropper, they are small yellow/red plums, in about August. However they turn bitter if you cook or jam them, so best eaten straight off the tree.

There should be a good apple crop this year too, as the trees have grown loads are now in their 6th year. A lovely eater we tasted for the first time last year was Widow's Friend, an early apple, but very good.

I reckon we might have lost our escallonia hedge though, it recovered last year but I'm not sure it'll pull through again, also the senecio is looking rough. What a pity to lose these plants, not to mention the lavenders....... and rosemary.......

The succulents on the green roof all pulled through and are looking very well, which is brilliant!! I hope we're all done with cold winters now for a good few years.

We've started a Tuesday morning drop in for volunteers at the commmunity garden from 10 to 12, so if you're in the area, or would like to visit us, we'll be there, so long as it isn't bucketing rain. Directions on the website www.kinvarasustainableliving.com.

Also we've polytunel courses coming up and cob oven building. Have a look at the website if you're interested.

Scrubber Scrubber 04 April 2011 12:15:34

Sounds a fascinating garden and Im going to visit it tonight-virtually of course! Ive only just very belatedly got into veg gardening on a tiny scale but it will be interesting to read about yours as you seem to be quite expert!

Cloncaw Cloncaw 04 April 2011 12:43:07

Busy and well organised as usual hope all goes well for you this season.

TheH (Hazel) TheH (Hazel) 04 April 2011 13:18:25

Just had a look at your Gallery - looks very interesting! The pizzas look delicious ..... so now I'm going to have my lunch!

January 2011

08 January 2011 22:17:40

And the cold just goes on and on!! I've no sweet peas sown, no salads started, no early potatoes in the tunnel!!!! But I'm eager to get going.

I'm starting by organizing a first ever A.G.M. of Doorus Orchard Project. I'm interested in seeing where people want the garden projetc to go. It's five years old now, so it looks a bit like a proper garden, and as I was advized at a recent meeting in Galway City Hall about community gardens, the best way to keep them safe is to have lots of people using them!! The more 'user groups' and 'clients' a space has the less likely it is to be devoloped as something else, closed down or underfunded. So I'm open to suggestions on how to get more people involved, and non gardeners too. I'd love to see art projects going on, scouts, beavers, brownies etc.

The other big thing going on at the mo ( since nothing is actually happening in the garden!!) is that we've just put our list of courses for 2011 up on the website www.kinvarasustainableiving.com We've a good mix of courses, fruit and vegtable growing, cob oven building, herb and salad growing, and poutlry keeping. So I'm looking forward to some bookings......

We had two lots of filming at the orchard in 2010. Gearrai Glas filmen a good bit, I'm featured in this SDundays episode at 6.25pm, and next wednesdays at 8:30pm so if you're interested in seeing the place tune in. I've attached a photo of another session they did for  a kids programme cula4. Not sure when that's being aired.

The Irish Kitchen Garden CAlendar has sold really well, there are a few left if you want to order one online. Go to the website, all the information is there.

P.S. there is simply mountains of seaweed at the shore now, I've been gathering up what I can.

Jacinta D Jacinta D 09 January 2011 03:56:56

I will definitely be tuning in to that. Best of luck. Hopefully it will be a productive growing year.

Steve's Mam and Dad go to Kinvara on a regular basis for quick getaway breaks.

Drumanagh Drumanagh 29 March 2011 21:29:32

Don't know how I missed this journal. I really enjoyed garrai glas. I'm doing a  distance learning course with the college in Dromcollogher that Sheila keeps returning to! You are doing a great job in Kinvara.  There is talk of a community garden here in Skerries but its very hard to get it off the ground, so to speak! Do you wash the salt out of the seaweed or is it not necessary?

Doorus Orchard Doorus Orchard 04 April 2011 10:41:52

I don't wash the seaweed at all, but then I don't cut it frech offf the rocks, I take the stuff that's half way up the beach, not the completely rotten stuff but the seaweed that's had a chance to be rained on. I've never had trouble with it.


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