Back to school for gardeners, foragers and food growers

Kitty Scully lists some extra curricular activities for the growing enthusiast now that the year is winding down.

September is here, colleges and schools are reopened and it is not only young minds that are lured into learning.

Adult education is alive and kicking in Ireland and for those keen to indulge their horticultural hobby or should I say obsession, there are lots of great courses available. 

From full-time and part-time to evening courses, there are lots of options for further education in horticulture, but unfortunately time, finances or location often stand in the way. 

For whatever reason you find yourself unable to attend a desired course, take comfort in the fact that there are other options out there.

Online courses are available to cover a multitude of discipline’s and they have become the busy, inquisitive gardeners’ friend. 

There are a limited number of good online garden-related courses that I am aware of but one great new course that has caught my attention and I have signed up for is:

Learn With The Seasons (Forage for and use edible and therapeutic herbs)

Every health-conscious, nature loving, keen gardener I know would simply love this E-course. Through weekly lessons and videos delivered by email, one can meticulously learn about all those easily recognisable edible and therapeutic plants that are seasonally available in fields, gardens, parks, hedgerows and woods.

From plant identification, tips on including these nourishing herbs in your diet, safety guidelines to recipes for herbal remedies, ointments, syrups, tonics and tinctures, this course is well written, very practical, easy to follow and thoroughly enjoyable. 

The course is broken into threes seasons each containing five lessons. Early summer features herbs such as elderflower, hawthorn, plantain, nettle etc. 

High summer features herbs such as red clover, self-heal, borage etc and the current course, starting this Wednesday September 9 will feature seasonal herbs (especially seeds, roots and berries) such as silverweed, dandelion root, dock, elderberry, rosehips, hazel nuts etc.

Students are welcome to enrol before or after the start date but clearly the most benefit is gleaned by following the course with the seasons. 

Whether you are already an experienced forager and have made herbal remedies before or a total herbal novice, this course will guide you through all the wonderful steps required to identify and safely forage for tasty and nutritious edible wild plants, which in turn will help enrich your diet and boost your overall health.

If you are interested in enrolling on one or all three of these fantastic informative herbal hub e-courses, contact: info@theherbalhub.com  or phone 086 8899168.

Airfield estate gardening classes

For those of you who don’t like commitment and don’t enjoy self-motivated learning, workshops are always a fantastic way of honing your horticultural skills and knowledge through practical hands-on learning and group interaction. 

In Airfield Estate ( www.airfield.ie ) this autumn, I am running a number of fun and informative workshops to help budding gardeners come to terms with this growing season and prepare for the next one. These include:

Great Things in Store

(Saturday September 12, 10.30am to 1.30pm, cost: €50). After all the hard work of tending to your garden soil and your food crops, you will want to make every effort to ensure that the fruits of your labour last as long as possible. Join me to learn more about the art of harvesting, storing and preserving. 

My philosophy is that when you grow your own food or go foraging, you’ve got some of the world’s finest ingredients at your disposal so it’s only right to treat these with utmost care and fuse them with other fine ingredients, patience, care, and lots of love, so that you, your family and friends can reap the benefits of your garden throughout the seasons.

Putting the Beds to Bed

(Saturday September 26, 10.30am to 1.30pm, cost: €50). Autumn has arrived and you may be wondering what to do with all those empty hard working vegetable beds? Wonder no more — join me for a hands-on workshop on putting the garden to rest for the winter. 

From mulching to sowing green manures and planning crop rotations, there are lots of autumn preparation practices and jobs that may determine the success of your garden next year. 

They will help to reduce the amount of hours needed to work soil next spring. October does not cry ‘curtains down’ on the vegetable patch but should be viewed as the beginning of next year’s growing season.

All about Alliums

(Saturday October 10, 10.30am to 1.30pm, cost: €50). Join me to find out everything you need to know about planting, growing, harvesting, storing and cooking with alliums.

Would you believe that there are over 700 different varieties of allium, ranging from ornamental plants grown for their striking spherical flower heads to edible crops including chives, garlic, shallots, onions and leeks. 

On the whole, alliums are a straightforward family to grow and in this workshop you will pick up plenty of allium pointers and a few recipes and medicinal tips as well.


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