After a relaxing, sunny weekend in Baltimore we’ve returned home with headfuls of ideas, lots of notes, a handful of mail order catalogues and lots of inspiration for our garden in 2009. Jean Perry, who owns the five acres and house at Glebe Gardens with her artist husband Peter, was our teacher for the two day course. They run a popular café on site, producing most of the organic vegetables, fruit and herbs that they use there from the raised beds and polytunnels in the gardens.
With just a dozen friendly participants from a range of backgrounds and locations, there was plenty to discuss and learn – our rabbit problem was a bit of a teaser but two of our classmates brought in a list of plants that aren’t particularly tasty to rabbits and now we’re looking at planting box hedges around this year’s veggie garden. We’re also hoping that the pair of tom cats that we got to replace our late lamented Puddy will soon go into action against the rabbits – although, judging by the look of them at the moment (asleep indoors), they don’t seem to be getting themselves in shape for any serious rabbit action.
Jean uses the no dig method, with raised beds and plenty of mulching. I’ve read – with skeptcism – about this system before but it’s much easier to get your head around it when you’re standing in front of the beds and eating the produce (a delicious lunch of soup and cheese was provided, along with copious amount of biscuits that were partaken of at regular intervals to keep the brain active). I now know how to replant my seedlings properly (hold the leaves, not the stalk when moving them), the kinds of insects to attract so that the aphids don’t eat most of my salad crops (ladybirds all the way) and that I can use a shredder and my left-over newspapers to make some extra bedding for the hens.
It was a great excuse to visit Baltimore and, particularly, the lovely Glebe Gardens once again, as well as getting energised about the coming year’s gardening. Jean is running more courses in March – take a look on the site to see the dates – and the two days, plus your lunch (and lots of biscuits!), just costs €100. Time to dig out those seeds and get chitting seed potatoes!