This week Live 95’s Aislinn Kelly paid a visit to St Munchin’s Allotment in Ballynanty. The community revived a piece of overgrown land and transformed it into a thriving allotment, supplying volunteers with organic fruit and vegetables. The allotment draws a wide range of birds and pollinators, creating a wildlife safehaven under the shadow of Thomond Park Stadium.
How does the allotment help Ballynanty’s community?
- The allotment exposes children to the process of gardening and teaches them skills such as teamwork alongside a hands-on education on nutrition
- All young people involved in the allotment through Limerick Youth Service now have the invaluable life skill of growing their own fruit and vegetables
- Many of the young people have gone into trades based on the skills they developed in the allotment, such as bricklaying and market gardening.
- The allotment also provides a sense of community to new members of the community, with people from different cultural backgrounds bringing their knowledge and traditions to the table
- Elderly members of the community are also looked after by the allotment. In exchange for fresh fruit and vegetables, they impart their knowledge and traditions such as drinking nettle tea as a means of cleansing the circulatory system every May.
- THe community garden helps filter rainwater, absorb carbon dioxide, and improves the soil health of the area.
- The allotment also feeds pollinators such as bees and moths and encourages this through the well maintained beehive and numerous bug hotels.
What is the best produce to grow in an allotment?
- An allotment is a prime opportunity to grow unusual fruit and vegetables such as black potatoes or purple carrots that aren’t commonly found in supermarkets.
- Root vegetables that are easy to store in the kitchen such as squash and pumpkins are a good option to grow in your allotment
- The heaviest yielding crops are root vegetables and brassicas, whereas lower yielding crops include French beans and broad beans.
- Spring cabbages, spring onions, turnips, spinach are good options for all year around
- Marlow O’Brien recommends new potatoes as children love the process of digging them up to find golden wonders!
How to turn a patch of disused land into a vegetable bed
- Raised beds holds soil in with four wooden planks, allowing you to fill the area with nutrient rich soil without having to dig the ground out to begin. They also have a better drainage system.
- Make sure the area you pick has good exposure to sunlight.
- Invest in high quality soil to begin with to help your crops grow stronger
- Consider creating a compost heap for a natural fertiliser for your plants
A beginners guide to allotment gardening…