The Slimy Molluscs


Molluscs are the second largest Phylum in the Animal Kingdom. How do I know that?

Because I am studying Organic Horticulture and our last assignment was studying Slugs and Snails.slug sketch


Why do I need to know about Slugs & Snails?

So that I realise that they live in the dark and wet parts of the world, the shady cracks under stones and leaves, basically, in the Sludge.

The hint is in the name. Onomatopoeia and assonance never worked so well. Words that begin with Sl and even better, SLu, bring to mind oozing wetness such as we have never felt since we were children experimenting in the garden, before our parents spotted us. The joy of mud cakes as a child. We need to learn textures when we are children because we sure as H–ll are not going to get down and dirty when we are grown up.

So why does a horticulturalist need to know where a slug thrives? Apologies to all vegan out there, but it is so we can exterminate them. In a situation where we cannot use pesticides or anything that will harm other animals or birds, we have to use methods such as drowning them in beer, squishing them or poisoning them with iron phosphate.

Knowing that they will multiply and come forth when it rains gives us the tipoff to bring out our arsenal of weaponry to the garden at the appropriate moment. It is the cabbages or them and quite often it is them who survive leaving the poor brassica looking like a skeleton.

We also learn that their sense of smell is keen but their eyes, which are at the top of two revolving tentacles sticking up off their head, is poor. These tentacles are also used to smell. They like the smell of beer. How does a beer loving, cabbage eating, revolving tentacled animal end up living in sludge? Our is not to understand the ways of nature. Ours is to know that some slugs produce a calcium enriched mucus slime that forms a shell. they are called snails or escargots, the French delicacy. This occurs mostly in the city where slugs can eat more eggshells for calcium.

So even a Gollum like creature can perform minor miracles in its nether kingdom of sludge!











Up By Napper Tandys House

This Sunday I went walkabout in Dublin’s oldest streets. Researching the price of organic cherry tomatoes, I made for the Dublin Food Coop. From Thomas Street, I passed throught Meath Street and The Coombe. Quiet and clean swept it being a Sunday, the redbrick houses are history in themselves. The families that grew up there, the messages bought, the workers arriving in , scraping theit boots on the built in irons that still protrude from the redbrick at foot level.

The men who arrived home without work during the lockout and strikes of 1913 – the stories those walls could tell.

IMG_3017Google maps brought me to the market – a buzzing hive of activity. Tourists from all over th world had found their way to this hub of crafts, music collections ,coffee and food.

Cherry tomatoes were to be found @ €5 per kilo. Sourced from Spain so methinks there is a gap in the market for Irish Organic Cherry tomatoes.


NCAD Community Garden



When you walk up off the Oliver Bond street parallel to Thomas Street and go through the tall metal gates, you leave behind the city and enter a mini garden of paradise.

Order has been brought to chaos with rows of vegetables stretching out in raised beds and more chaos has been created with the mountains of composting material being gathered daily by Tony Lowth whose brainchild this project is.

The cycle continues with the compost being spread on the ground ceating no dig beds with minimal weeds. It is a pleasure to work this soil. Rich and friable , dark but light to the touch, its fertility is evident in the abundance of lettuce, leeks and kale still growing in November.

Tony is no stranger to social change and he has a plan to create employment out of waste.  The practical application of labour to waste ground is no random idea but is carefully thought out.

IN the meantime, the backdrop of the citys noise – sellers in Meath Street calling out, Christchurch playing the Bells of the Angelus at noon and the visual  impact of graffiti on the gardens walls remind you where you are. In the heart of the oldest part of Dublin and not 500 metres from where Robert Emmet was hanged, a farm that out forefathers would be proud of is thriving.