FREE BBQ at the Dunes Tavern TONIGHT!

Oh yeah! Do Friday afternoons get this perfect for a evening barbeque? No, no they don’t. So TONIGHT at the Dunes Tavern on the Top Road, Strandhill, there’s going to be a FREE BBQ!

More importantly, there will be a raffle to raise funds for the Allotments site. There are some pretty awesome prizes up for grabs too including wetsuits and rash-shirts donated by Perfect Day Surf & SUP School, a limited edition art print from the freak at Organic Devolution and a few others. It will be a great evening, good tunes, good vibes. See you there!

Dunes Tavern BBQ & Raffle

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What’s my number?

What's my number?Well folks!

Yes, yes. The wait is over. The plots have all been marked out with white stakes and delightful orange string. That’s it! On the stakes there are numbers indicating whose plot is whose. So while Toots and the Maytals have been gloating about knowing their number for over 40 years, you need to find out yours! Well, by means of a lottery all have been allocated a plot so look at the list below to find your lucky number!

BUT FIRST… a few important things:

1. THE GATE
The gate into the allotments at the end of our little road MUST BE KEPT CLOSED! Please, close it after you’ve come in and after you go. The last thing we need is to have a horse outside.

Say 'NO' to having a horse outside. SHUT THE GATE!

2. THE PATH
There is a simple system of paths that traverse the allotments side and everyone has ample access to their own site. Please, stick to the paths. Stomping through someone else’s space, even if it has little or nothing in it for now, is to be avoided. Respect thy neighbour(‘s dirt). There is gravel up the back of the site that will be used in conjunction with the stones that were pulled out of the field to spread over the paths to make them more robust. All in good time!

3. STRINGED-UP PLOTS
Please leave the white stakes and string-lines in place that are marking out the plots. We can come up with a more robust way of marking the plots soon enough but for now, keep the strings in and stakes down.

4. THE GATE
See above.

5. MEETING NEXT WEDNESDAY (22nd May)
8pm at Strand Celtic – come on down if you can make it. Bring a biscuit and a tiny balloon to celebrate with.

6. Yes, yes… but WHAT’S MY NUMBER?!
No worries, here you go (Plot number, name):

1 – Jessie Smith
2 – Barry Carty
3 – Patrick Sweeny & Nicola Conlan
4 – Deirdre Horan & Adrian Hamilton
5 – Valerie Curran & Breege McGowan
6 – Louise Kinane
7 – Ian Jermyn & Muireann de Buiteleir
8 – Berney Mongey
9 – Karen Friel
10 – Carol Bree
11 – Aoife Langan
12 – Emer Bree
13 – Ray Finan
14 – Derek Wynne
15 – Willie Loughran
16 – Bernard Hayes
17 – Tom Dalton
18 – Dave Mullan & Ánie Waldron
19 – Seamus McGoldrick
20 – Shane Meehan
21 – Else van der Lecq
22 – Collette Mavrak
23 – Clare O’Gara
24 – Martina Henry
25 – Cathyanne Brennan & Nicola Gormley
26 – Carlene Gildea & Moira Burke
27 – Darren Ronan & Adrian Hamilton
28 – Eddie Johnston & Luke Saunders
29 – Julia & Sylvia Moriarty
30 – Sean Mulligan
31 – Ronan Brennan
32 – Denise Rushe
33 – …pending approval
34 – …pending approval
35 – …pending approval
36 – …pending approval

That’s it so. See you all on Wednesday next (22nd May)!

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Come get your plot!

On-site THIS SATURDAY (18th May) at 1pm there will be a gathering at which time the plots will be divvied out… Come get some!

Ahh well, I know I’ve said it before but getting the allotments up and running has required blood, sweat and tears from a dedicated core of few, BUT… it also would certainly not have come to this point without the allotment-folk taking ownership of the site as a whole and getting down and dirty in the wind and wet when it has been called for. Huge effort. It’s all grow from here on…

All kinds of vegetable freaky

This Saturday we’ll see you on-site to claim your little castle in the sky (or rather, rhombus of dirt in the paddock). Why not get all kinds of vegetable-freaky and dress-up? Paint your thumbs green as a show of solidarity? Better still, bring a flag to stake claim to your new land for yourself, and your children, and your children’s children – providing all that comes together for you within the 11 month site lease we’ve signed (good luck with that one).

See you Saturday!

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Keeping the elephants at bay

Oh sure, snigger all you like but the threat of our little lettuces being fallen upon and devoured, root and stem, by marauding bull elephants is very, very real. (Lettuces kind-of have stems don’t they?)

Fencing crew laying out the lines

Thankful we should all be that within the rank-and-file of the Strandhill Allotments clan there were those fearless enough to stand firm against such a threat of a gruesome death-by-trampling, those with the grit to stand firm on-site and have it fenced off before the big fellows in the grey suits arrived. No, no… elephants, not councilors.

A fence to keep the elephants out

Herding cats

A serious day of heaving, lifting and shifting, unrolling and unravelling, banged thumbs and more dodging of tractors was put in. Would they get it finished before the rains set in? Understandably, the tension was high; that’s just good fencing I guess.

Make sure you keep a few smiles and quiet compliments up your sleeve for the ones who have put the hours in on-site to get the work done. In addition, a huge amount of work continues behind the scenes to maintain momentum and ensure progress is made. Some things take time… getting jobs done for the very best price requires some compromises, the weather can be unpredictable, and organising volunteers and suits alike can be like herding cats.

Fencing suitable for isolating wild animals

Of course, the prerequisite for the fencing was the final step in the preparation of our pastures, miniature as each may be; this of course was subjecting the more stubborn and insolent of the great clods to a thorough thrashing by way of the power harrow. And surely, a harrowing experience it must have been!

Fine soil awaiting cultivation

The result is plainly obvious up close. Where once were weeds and a thick matting of grasses is now a sublime stretch of soil; even, and an altogether different space than the boulder-field that was exposed after the initial ploughing!

The land is now fit for our furrows, lusting for lettuces, crooning for carrots, pining for potatoes, trembling for tomatoes, ripe for… for, ahh, rosemary?

The road ahead

Yes indeedy, the road ahead is firm. In the next few days the call will be made to rally the troops so that (yes, finally) our individual plots can be divvied out and we can finally get down and dirty at last. Watch your inbox Allotmenteers. See you on-site soon.

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Getting busy & throwing stones

Applications for plots are CLOSED!

Sign up for the waiting list; you've got to be in it to win it!

After much huffing and puffing, and without any bloodshed, applications for allotments have now closed! If you are still interested in a plot and would like to be put on the waiting list, please get in touch so your name can be put down. Email – strandhillallotments(at)yahoo.com – with, “Join the Queue” or something similar in the subject line. Who knows, you might just get lucky. Sure, people get swallowed by giant worms every day!

Talking shop

Last Wednesday’s workshop was a great opportunity for some of us to get a crash course on what we should be thinking about pushing into the dirt. Many thanks to Grace and Ger for sharing the green bits of their brains. Some of the take-home messages from the night included:

  • Ger - plan your plots and keep it simple!Plan your plot! Rather than just bunging in anything and everything all at once, have a think about what you like to eat and how much of it you’re likely to be able to stomach when it comes time to harvest. Have a think about spacing out your seedlings in time not only across the space of soil you have. Get some paper out and get doodling with what you might like to grow and where in the space you have.
  • Plant out established seedlings. Sure, we’re making a late start getting things in but by planting out established seedlings we’re off with the head-start we need. The soil is finally starting to warm up too – check out the dandelions that are now running amok everywhere! Check out what deals are out there for punnets of vege seedlings, robust herbs and ‘early’ potato varieties. if you’ve sprouted you own seedlings at home – make sure you get them outside to ‘harden up’ during the day (bring them in at night  though) so they’re robust enough to survive when you finally plant them out in your plot.
  • Sand doesn’t hold nutrients! Enhance the soil in your plot by adding lots of organic matter; dig through lots of well-composted/rotted seaweed, manures & household compost. The key here is ‘well-composted’ – this ensures that the nutrients (in the form of organic matter) that you’re adding in are readily available for your plants, and the other critters living in the soil. Also, weed’s love the sun so starve the little blighters out by using a thick coverage of  mulch (straw is the business apparently!) around your new seedlings and established crops.
  • Grace - it's all about the compost!Bring back the bees! Pollinators such as bees and other useful insects perform vital ecosystem services. Think about getting a few flowering plants on the go too. Ideally, go for plants that are multi-purpose – ones that attract useful bugs or those for chemical defence against others (slugs hate wild rocket!).
  • To the library! Yes indeedy, there’s a wealth of information about what to plant and when, and also with whom (see above). Periodicals such as “Home Farmer Magazine,” can be most useful providing case-studies on particular crops. Keep your ear out for gardening spots on local and national radio or track down podcasts (like Peter Donegan’s, the SodShow) that you can download and listen to later. Online you’ll find a huge amount of resources – you’re certainly not alone on this journey. Google is your friend – ask and you shall recieve.

Throwing stones (or, Cairn you good thing!)

It seemed like evenings mid-week are a good time to get people active! It was a huge turn out and an equally huge effort by all who showed up on site on Monday evening to pull out the majority of the remaining big stones. The final step for soil preparation is almost done after which, we’ll be ready to have the plots marked out and divvied up. A final hurdle may be to keep the tourists out who’ve come by to see the various new cairns that are scattered about the site!

Carin you good thing! Folk getting amongst it to pull out the last of the stones.

Fencing

Posts, wire and some bristly big blokes have also been organised to get the fencing put in over the next few days. This should really give our space a sense of ownership (well, stewardship at least) and keep the hooves of the horses from puree-ing our plots. Ahh, within the next fortnight there should be a sea of green across the site – hello Summer!

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Workshop tonight: 8pm @ Strand Celtic

Hi folks!
A reminder about tonight’s workshop, 8pm at Stand Celtic. We have two guests, local horticulturists Geard Devins and Grace Brady, who will be sharing their wisdom on getting growing! You should come armed with questions, pen and paper, and some ideas about what you might like to get going in your plot.
Make the most of these resources while they’re available! See you there.

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Breaking new ground

Keiran and George and the the Tra'er

Keiran and George – the discussion about who was going to drive the tractor was brief and decisive.

The first cut is the deepest; carving through the topsoil of the allotments

The first cut is the deepest; carving through the topsoil of the allotments

It was inevitable – the worms had it coming.

George rolled up the road to the allotments just before lunch and, after Keiran’s frothing pep-talk, was fired up to sink the green-machine’s teeth in. The glinting arcs of the steel plow-blades must have looked an ominous portent to the microcosmos in the grass below. Sure enough, armageddon was ushered in with the thunder of the big Deer’s motor starting up, the plow-blades bit and George made a bee-line for the far end of the plot.

There’s plenty of big rocks sewn into the grass and top-soil which were turned out to face the light. These bigger stones will need to be removed by hand before the roto-tiller can come in next week to do its work on the weeds and grasses. A call will be put out for whoever is available to come down this Monday (21st – tomorrow!) to get down and dirty helping to shift these out of the way. These are likely to be most useful for the foundations for the pizza oven that will be slapped up soon enough! Please, if you can, get down to help on Monday at 10am – bring some gloves and a smile!

This Pied Wagtail seemed delighted about the new restaurant that had just opened up

This Pied Wagtail seemed delighted about the new restaurant that had just opened up

Smile! We've all got worms

Smile! We’ve all got worms

Did I mention we’ve all got worms? Well, the allotment has worms. This has to be a good sign for soil quality. (I could be wrong here too – if you can help clarify this, please do – comment below!) The turned soil revealed more than just a cornucopia of invertebrate delights for the winged-ones who quickly descended to scope out the lunchtime fare; a number of other treasure were unearthed.

Buried treasures just beneath the surface; assorted mollusc shells a fair stretch from the sea

Buried treasures just beneath the surface; assorted mollusc shells a fair stretch from the sea

Treasure comes in many forms I guess… The first appeared to be a real novelty – the round half-shell of a native Irish oyster. These are now a rare sight around Irish coastlines as they’ve been successfully usurped by the larger Pacific oyster which is now ubiquitous. The second was another clam-like bivalve. The third… well, it’s a long shot but may perhaps be a rare, spheroid species, Titleist golf-ballii. The last collection features another type of clam, a limpet shell and the shells of two different types of  marine snail.

What these were doing so far from home is a mystery. An indication of earlier times with higher tides? Discards from a long-past picnic? A particularly high tide? Further banter upon the subject is encouraged and likely to draw all sorts of conclusions but it raises the question as to what other mysteries will be uncovered as we settle in to the new plot. Keep your eyes peeled for anything interesting as we begin to settle in to the new space and if you find something of interest, put it aside o we can all have a gander and make wild suggestions about its origins. Maybe we’ll find some real buried treasure…

George winding up for his third pass.

George winding up for his third pass.

Plot, ploughed. Roto-man, the weed destroyer, comes Monday. Bring it on!

Plot, ploughed. Roto-man, the weed destroyer, comes Monday. Bring it on!

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Ground report

The gathering on site - great to feel the ground underfoot.

With flashes of sun amidst the lashing wind and spatters of rain a dozen or so hardy alotmenteers made their way to inspect the site for the new allotments for the first time. The site is situated behind the Strandhill National School with sweeping views out to the Atlantic whilst behind looms the majestic bulk of Knocknarea. What a wonderful setting for some inspired toil!

Aoifa, Elsa and Jess with smiles of approval.

The soil is sandy but there’s talk of trucking in top-soil from down the way. Some tell-tale parting in the grasses along the southern boundary fence may indicate that we’ll share the site with bunnies or badgers. The ground is uneven and thickly carpeted in grasses. There was however, few thistles or other prickly nasties to be seen. A large cache of gravel sits way up the back that can be used to to provide a skin for the short road in to the wire fence that will soon have to be replaced by the gate.

Early next week a local architect will be in to help mark out the site and sketch out the partitioning for the plots. As soon as this is done the fence can be strung up and a stronger sense of custodianship for this space can be established. Looking forward to breaking ground!

Huge tracks of land! Well, enough to get us started.

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