People are recognizing the vital connection between health, agriculture, and our environment. At Dunmore Country School, we will help you grow tasty vegetables in a sustainable, intensive, and cost-effective way.
Our kitchen garden, situated on a one-acre plot with a polytunnel, is based on the traditional French 'potager,' or kitchen garden using lazy beds. We produce and preserve almost all of the vegetables and herbs we need for the year. We also incorporate flowers into our rotation system, which serves both a beautiful and practical purpose. It helps balance the garden, eliminating the need for any insecticides.
When people come to talk to us about starting a garden, they often say, 'But it will take a lot of time,' or 'How will I control the weeds without spraying?' We have devised a simple, workable gardening system, the secret of which is to start small, get used to the techniques, reap the rewards, and then gradually increase the size of the plot. Our system shows you how to make the best use of a small piece of ground and how to sow vegetables in a way that requires a minimum amount of weeding. We will even show you how to make weeding easy using simple mulching techniques.
The main reason for starting a garden is to enjoy your own healthy, tasty vegetables. Tanguy and Isabelle will be happy to share their tips for cooking and preparing/preserving your vegetables.
We have set up a working kitchen garden on one acre with a polytunnel. You will learn how to produce your own food in a sustainable way. We use simple mulching techniques called 'No-dig.' Not only is it good for the soil, but it is also a great way to save time and your back.
Another interesting concept that we apply at Dunmore Country School is 'energy transfer.' Basically, you use every bit of organic matter produced by the garden and use it to fertilize the vegetable beds. Grass clippings, leaves, hedge clippings, comfrey leaves and even weeds are carefully harvested and reused elsewhere. It is a good technique to create areas with different levels of fertility. The poorest areas are called meadows, and they help maintain good overall biodiversity in the garden. In return, you will use no spray because the garden becomes balanced. It is a great system to improve biodiversity and maximize the use of carbon.
Our kitchen garden is not a market garden. We do not sell vegetables; they are produced for our own consumption. This is an important point because we are focusing on the ratio of energy spent to produce/yield. The trick is to maximize the yield by working with plants and nature. We will show you how you can grow two sets of crops per year. I said crops because in most of the beds, I would use interplanting and intercropping. This allows you to grow sets of crops that provide vegetables in succession. We believe that good recipes and preserving techniques are especially important. There is no point in producing top-class veggies if you do not know how to prepare them. We will share some of our tips. In some of the courses, Isabelle will cook fresh and seasonal vegetables for your lunch.
We keep bees in Warre hives, which are a French system inspired by traditional skep beekeeping. The bees are provided with empty boxes, and they self-build their own natural combs. The native Irish black bees undergo natural selection (Darwinian selection), and we only harvest surplus honey if possible, leaving plenty of stores for the winter. This system is highly beneficial for 'rewilding' the native black honey bee. We do not feed them sugar or use any treatments. The natural honeycombs are crushed and pressed, resulting in a unique product.
We maintain around 10 to 15 colonies of Irish Black Bees, the native Irish subspecies of Apis mellifera mellifera. To prevent varroa mites and competition with other pollinators, we group the hives in sets of 1 to 3, establishing 8 small apiaries in prime locations where no tillage (such as oilseed rape or fodder beans) could impact the well-being of the bees and the quality of our honey. The results have been amazing. In 2018, we experienced only a 6% winter/spring loss rate without the need for feeding, treatments, or intrusive management practices. We lost only 1 hive out of 16, which is still higher than the average losses of Black bees in the French conservatoire of Ouessant in Brittany, where it's only 3%. It's a goal worth aiming for!
Visit Our Online Store
Visit Dunmore Country School's online store, where you will find a range of courses and gardening tools. With courses such as Start Your Garden From Scratch, Month To Month Stroll in the Garden, Warré Hive Beekeeping, and French Classes, to mention but a few, there really is something for everyone!
In the spring, we are running online Live Zoom Gardening Courses, so you can still learn how to create and manage a beautiful kitchen garden, with our sustainable no-dig system!
Have a look around!
Would you like to travel 1000km south without too much carbon foot print?
Well, just go inside your polytunnel. The good news is: it will not be a virtual journey.
A polytunnel is not perfect and it is not possible to grow everything well in it during the whole season. But by picking out the right crops and by propagating all the seedlings you need, it is an outstanding addition to your kitchen garden. It is efficient, economical and it will allow you to successfully grow “exotic” crops like tomatoes, aubergine, melons and basil and so much more.
Tanguy can bring his wealth of expertise in your garden and help you make a plan of action. Tanguy de Toulgoët has a strong profile as an environmentalist, educator and gardener. He is a tireless campaigner and advocate of sustainable gardening and has given lectures and talks all over Ireland.
Dunmore Country School have been featured in most of the Irish Newspapers (Irish Times, Irish Independent, The Business Post, Sunday Times, Farmers Journal) and internationally in publications such as the Washington Post.
TV programmes such as "The secret garden" RTE, Nationwide RTE, Queerbet (Germany), Chouette prod (France TV) and books like "From the ground up" Fionnuala Fallon, Irish Gardens (Jane Powers).