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Planning and preparing a vegetable garden

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

The glorious sunshine we have had has really inspired me to get stuck in and start preparing a new vegetable garden for next year.

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I, as many of the readers of this column, have had several attempts and failures at vegetable gardening, and I have decided 2022 is going to be different. So I have begun from scratch, on a smaller scale than before, and armed with a plan.

The ground, though wet, is not as saturated as it could be, so I thought it a good time to start off my raised beds for veggie planting. As my topsoil is fairly shallow - only about 20cm in many places - and I have a solid clay underneath, I decided to dig out paths using that topsoil to raise my beds. I have put weed suppressant on the clay path, run a drainage pipe along the path and put a good layer of gravel on top. I am determined to have a sound structure to work from, so ease of use must come first! My paths are wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow and the corners of my beds are rounded to make it easier to manoeuvre said wheelbarrow.

My beds are 16ft long by 4ft - as that is the length timber comes in, and who wants to waste time and energy sawing? In the past, I felt I had to use every bit of space in the bed to grow something but I have placed stepping stones at handy intervals throughout, rather than standing on the soil. These are small things, but in the haste to buy seeds and start growing, I have always made a sort of a slap dash job of the actual ground.

THREE YEAR CYCLE

Next, I built three new compost bins. I have a large garden, and, to be honest, the compost bins available to buy are just too small. Previously, I have used the three pallet system - which is basically a bay made out of three pallets nailed together. Five pallets will give you two bays, and so on. I am a firm believer in the need for three bays. Bay 1: where current matter is deposited. Bay 2: untouched and composting for a year. Bay 3: the oldest, which should be useable compost. For me, this corresponds to a three year cycle, as I find my compost takes that long to develop. The one thing which I have changed to this system is that I have used reconstituted decking boards rather than pallets. It looks so much neater, and will be far more sturdy and durable.

Unfortunately my garden has become riddled with a most tenacious and prolific weed, called Woundwort. There are several types, all identifiable by the square, hairy stems, purple flower spikes and slightly pungent smell. I don’t know where mine came from as I have not seen them in my area, but it really likes where it is. Not realising its true nature, I left it alone last year. To be fair to it, pollinators, especially bumblebees, absolutely love it and land on it in amazing numbers. This year, the original square meter has expanded to at least 10 square meters, and as it grows easily from seed, it is absolutely everywhere now. Oh, and did I mention its underground network of rhizomes? Take care, fellow gardener, if you see it, burn it! This area has been painstakingly dug up, as many roots as possible removed, and covered in black polythene. And so it will remain for at least a year - I am not taking chances!

The rest of my beds I have covered with a thick layer of compost and old farmyard manure. To prevent weeds establishing before we even get started, I have covered each bed with weed suppressant - from experience I know that our mild winters will not stop some weeds from growing.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I have included a good few seating possibilities - as I am beginning to feel my age... though, apart from age, sometimes it is just wonderful to sit and plan, or ponder, or just watch nature do its thing – that is part of being a gardener, don’t you agree?

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Taking care of your skin at home

By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio In Part 2 of taking care of your skin at home it’s important to do the following steps after cleansing, toning […]

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By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio

In Part 2 of taking care of your skin at home it’s important to do the following steps after cleansing, toning and exfoliating your face, neck and décolleté.

Serums, eye creams and moisturisers: Moisturising provides a protective layer to the skin that locks in moisture and keeps skin hydrated. This hydration is what gives your skin a smooth and luminous appearance. This is the step in your skincare routine you don’t want to skip. We always apply the serum closest to the skin as it’s water based and needs to be absorbed on the deepest layer of the skin; the basal layer which is the active layer. It’s where the collagen and elastin start to grow and move up towards the surface of the skin. The more hyaluronic acid, peptides, ribose, and active ingredients in your serums the better. We need to keep our fibroblasts, melanocytes healthy as they are the source of plump, juicy skin.

An eye cream to me is the most important cream as the eye area is a place that doesn’t have any sebaceous glands (oil gland). These glands help remove old skin cells, keep the skin lubricated and prevent tissues drying out. Therefore, for me, I always use an eyelid lifting serum, eye cream in the night time and eye roll-on gel in the morning. Our eyes can make us look older than we are so it’s important to look after them. It’s very important not to go too close to the eye when applying creams as the skin is very thin. A little bit often makes a big difference.

When applying your serum and cream rub upwards and outwards; be careful not to tug the delicate skin around the eyes.

Apply SPF all year round, it’s the most important step in preventing skin cancer and keeps your skin healthy as you age. Protecting your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays helps maintain a healthy youthful visage. However, it’s important to remember the best form of sun block is to keep your face in the shade.

With all skincare routines, it’s important to keep it consistant. Do it twice a day every day and follow with monthly facials. Your skin is the largest organ on the body. This means that it’s important to take good care of it.

For more information, or to book a skin consultation or facial, call Jill on 064 6632966.

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What do we mean by ‘Employability’?

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, a member of the Kerry Branch of IGC and a career consultant at www.mycareerplan.ie. Follow @mycareerplan on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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By Niamh Dwyer, Guidance Counsellor

According to experts in the area of career development, the term ‘employability’ refers to a set of achievements that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations.

This in turn benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy. At this stage in the year Leaving Cert students are well into the process of trying to decide what step they want to take next. It is a daunting task for many of you because of the variety of choices available and the challenge for young people at 17 or 18 years of age to really know what career they might like. It is important to remember that you aren’t choosing a career for life, you are taking the next step and you will be building on that as your career develops. A big concern for many students and parents is whether they will get a job at the end of their chosen course or pathway. While we have some indications of where there will be skills shortages in the short to medium term, the jobs market is subject to change.

PATHWAY

One thing we can be sure of is that, regardless of what pathway you take after the Leaving Cert, be that Further Education courses (FET), traineeships, apprenticeships or university courses, on completion of your training and education you will want to be ‘employable’. In simple terms ‘employability’ depends on your knowledge (what you know) your skills (what you do with what you know) and your attitude (how you approach things). As you research the various options open to you after you finish school, remember you are heading into a working world that values transferable skills which include specialist knowledge in the subject, field of study or technical area you have chosen to follow. It also places huge emphasis on having the ability to analyse, evaluate and use information effectively to problem-solve and to organise and communicate knowledge well. Furthermore, your personal qualities are a core part of your offering to a potential employer – your ability to work on your own initiative, to self-manage, to manage time and meet targets and deadlines. Central to all of this of course is the ability to collaborate, to work and study as part of a team.

If you are struggling to decide between courses or options, focus on finding an area that you really want to find out more about. You will develop a set of transferable skills which will give you flexibility and adaptability as you grow and develop in your career. All of the other things you do will add value to your degree/qualification and that is what will ensure your ‘employability’!

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, a member of the Kerry Branch of IGC and a career consultant at www.mycareerplan.ie. Follow @mycareerplan on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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