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Planning and preparing a vegetable garden




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.


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.


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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New free local fitness group to motivate people back to health

By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness  Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people in Killarney which is why we have set up a […]




By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness

Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people in Killarney which is why we have set up a free health and fitness group. 

Our primary vehicle is our gym but we do a lot of other stuff, too, like:

* Train kids how to exercise in schools
* Helping frontline workers with their mindset
* Supporting local fitness events and teams
* Running fun social events in the community
* Raise funds for local charities

We’ve won awards for this stuff, but the real reward is moving the Killarney community back towards health. So today, I’m thrilled to share a free Facebook group: ‘Fitness, Nutrition & Health in Killarney’ with you.
Visit this link to join:

In that group, we’ll share helpful posts, tips, and support for everyone, whether you exercise at Activate or not. We’re also welcoming other health and fitness practitioners to join the group and help people find valuable and sensible advice around health and fitness.

When you join, Facebook will ask you a few questions, then my team will be around to support you and give you stuff to help.

If you have questions about fitness, health, longevity, nutrition, or exercise, go ahead and ask! If you have answers, please share! Let’s get some positive momentum going in Killarney!

What’s the deal with motivation?

I was having a discussion with a new client the other day and it came up that they sometimes feel a lack of motivation to keep working out. I know many of you feel like this sometimes, so I thought I would write about it today.

I really believe in discipline, as motivation is fleeting – but we’ll address this anyway. There are a few things that you can do to fool-proof the system. Here’s five ways.

1. Find an accountability partner:

When it comes to working out, having someone to hold you accountable can be a huge motivator. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a fitness coach, knowing that someone is counting on you to show up for your workout can help you stay on track.

2. Set realistic goals:

Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated, but it’s important to make sure they are realistic. If your goal is too lofty, you may find yourself getting discouraged when you don’t see results as quickly as you’d like. However, if your goals are achievable and realistic, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout plan and see the results you want.

3. Find a workout routine you enjoy:

If you dread your workouts, it’s going to be very difficult to stay motivated. However, if you find an exercise routine that you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. There are so many different types of workouts out there, so take some time to experiment and find one that fits your needs and interests. I feel a key facet many of us in the health and fitness industry miss regularly is making sure people are always engaged and challenged, so it remains fun to work out!

4. Reward yourself:

This one sounds a little weird, but for some, it can really work. One way to stay motivated is to reward yourself after setting a goal and reaching it. Whether it’s your favourite snack or a new piece of workout gear, treating yourself to something special can help keep you on track.

5. Get enough sleep:

This is the one thing we all hear that’s drilled into our brains – but for good reason! It’s important to get enough sleep when you’re trying to stay fit and healthy. When you’re well-rested, you’ll have more energy for your workouts and you’ll be less likely to skip them. So make sure to get plenty of rest each night!

Following these tips can help you stay motivated to workout, even when it feels like a struggle. Just remember to be patient, set realistic goals, and find an exercise routine that you enjoy. With a little effort, you can reach your fitness goals in no time!

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Irish food only for Lisa’s September challenge

Could you survive on a diet of food grown only in Ireland for one month – well that’s the challenge one Kerry woman has set herself. Artist and food activist […]




Could you survive on a diet of food grown only in Ireland for one month – well that’s the challenge one Kerry woman has set herself.

Artist and food activist Lisa Fingleton plans the unusual action as she will eat only food grown in Ireland for the entire month.

That means no sugar, lemons, olive oil, or coffee with the challenge designed to highlight issues with Irish food security.

In the seven years since Lisa founded the 30-Day Local Food Challenge, food supply chains have been hit by a succession of market shocks highlighting Lisa’s concerns with increasing urgency.

From seed shortages caused by Brexit to the global market shock of COVID-19 to potential shortages caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, to the recent conversation about the need to reduce the Irish National Herd in line with carbon emissions targets, Lisa says there has never been a more important time to talk about Irish food security.

“This year in particular in Europe we are seeing the impact of war on food and the global reliance on Ukraine as an important wheat producer,” said the former Kerry County Council Artist in Residence who lives in Ballybunion.

“This has shown us more than ever just how fragile our food systems are. We need to focus on building sustainable and resilient food systems on the island of Ireland. This year we are encouraging people to do one local meal a day so they can make it really simple and have Irish porridge for breakfast or really elaborate with a meal grown in your own garden.”

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