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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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Marie meets:

Feature: Mayor Marie Moloney While I was somewhat familiar with Marie, a quick google on the way out the door was quite the eye opener. I admitted as much to Marie upon arrival at the International Hotel and almost apologised for not having featured her before now. “I’ll be the first interview in your next […]

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Feature: Mayor Marie Moloney

While I was somewhat familiar with Marie, a quick google on the way out the door was quite the eye opener. I admitted as much to Marie upon arrival at the International Hotel and almost apologised for not having featured her before now.

“I’ll be the first interview in your next book Marie,” the Mayor laughed.

“Oh my goodness” I replied “I am barely over the stress of the first”. (‘Behind the Mask, Killarney’ is available in local bookshops).

Mayor Marie Moloney has a long list of voluntary work throughout her career which includes 30 years of service with Meals on Wheels, South of Ireland Bridge Club Secretary, former Boy Scout leader, Chairperson of Board of Management at Killarney Community College, Board of Management at Pobal Social Sliabh Luachra, Board of Management at Kerry ETB, Board of Management at Youth Work Kerry, Board of Management at South Kerry Development Partnership where she is currently working with a team on solar energy pilot. .

She is the Chairperson of the Board of Management for Kerry Respite Care. She on the Board of Management for Kilcummin Development Group, a former senator and continues to work in administration with SIPTU.

With her husband Mike, Marie has enjoyed 30 years with Killarney Musical Society and while she has never been on stage, she has taken many roles such as PRO and Prop Manager.

“Mike is the stage person, I’m not cut out for that but I involved myself in other ways. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them join them”.

It really is a big deal to be Mayor of anywhere, but a beautiful town like Killarney, truly is an honour.

Marie surmised: “You must be elected by your peers on the council.”

Well, I thought, with a glowing CV as listed above, Marie Moloney is productive in every waking minute of her life and clearly an excellent candidate for the position as Mayor. My only worry is where in the world would she find the time??

“Well you know that other saying Mari, the one where it is suggested that behind every good man there is a good woman? Well in my case it’s the reverse, the credit goes to my husband Mike. I love what I do but I couldn’t have done any of it without his backing.” ”.

Marie and Mike have one daughter Leona in Kildare, an accountant for a treasury company in the USA and whio is married to Martin with two daughters Ayla and Evie. They also have one son, Michael, a well-known GP in Killarney, married to Eilish and they have four children Aoibheann, James, Oliver and Laoibhse.

“The thing I most love about Killarney is it’s people. The unity and pride amongst the community to highlight the beauty and positives always, and the efforts to showcase our great town through festivals like the 4th July, St Patricks Day, Christmas in Killarney are fine examples. The impeccable work of our tidy towns and Killarney looking good truly is outstanding,” said Ms Moloney.

“If I had a magic wand I would certainly improve the flow of traffic throughout Killarney. That would be my first port of call and after I would love to see an indoor facility such as a bowling alley for our youth.
“We have the most amazing beauty in our outdoors of Killarney but we need something for that rainy day also,” Marie replied.

She was first elected to the Killarney Municipal District in 2009, elected on to the Labour Party Panel of Seanad Eireann in 2011 and elected again once more in the 2019 local elections.

“My father canvased for Mike Moynihan. I remember being 18 living my best life with my own flat in Tralee and my father sent a driver for me to come vote at Coolick NS for Mike Moynihan.

“Afterwards I asked my father where was my driver to return to Tralee to which he replied sure he’s long gone. Can’t you get the bus back tomorrow?”

“Mike and I helped Breda Moynihan Cronin in the initial stages of her campaign and I soon became her secretary. Breda was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1992 general election as a Labour Party TD for Kerry South, succeeding her father. When her seat was no more I continued with Breda voluntarily so when elections came around again that’s when I was elected.”

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The late Peggy O’Callaghan was a founder of Kilcummin Scor

By Sean Moriarty Tributes have been paid to Peggy O’Callaghan, who was laid to rest on Tuesday of this week. Peggy played a central role in all activities related to Kilcummin parish. She passed away peacefully at her home on Friday, January 7. Peggy and her husband Michael founded Kilcummin Scor in 1978 – the […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Tributes have been paid to Peggy O’Callaghan, who was laid to rest on Tuesday of this week.

Peggy played a central role in all activities related to Kilcummin parish. She passed away peacefully at her home on Friday, January 7.

Peggy and her husband Michael founded Kilcummin Scor in 1978 – the music and drama arm of the local GAA club.

“It afforded the opportunity to females to participate in club activities long before ladies’ football was initiated and it brought many people into the club, many of whom remained involved in different capacities over the years,” said a club statement.

“She has left us a wonderful legacy and will be remembered fondly by those lucky enough to have met her.”

Peggy will be sadly missed by her husband Michael, sons Diarmuid and Shane, daughters-in-law Trisha and Áine, grandchildren Dara, Caoimhe, Donnacha, Siún and Éabha, brothers Seánie and Frank, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, extended family, neighbours and friends.

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