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Margaret's Blog

 

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Blog

Composting in schools:

Any school could, and perhaps should, practise composting on site. There is, among some people, a certain but usually exaggerated fear of problems with rodents. These problems should not arise if the composting system is managed properly.

For any school with its own garden, making compost is a great boon in providing high-quality fertiliser and soil improvement from what are otherwise treated as waste materials. The children's and teachers' fruit peels, tea bags, ends of sandwiches etc. can all be converted into a valuable compost. This will also help the school's environmental performance, and can reduce waste costs.

A lot of schools use one or more plastic compost bins, which often become clogged up with an excess of soft, wet fruit and other food. These tall, narrow bins are not very suitable for this type of material as it compacts and becomes anaerobic very easily, hindering the composting process.

Composting requires a mix of soft moist "green" materials (such as fruit peelings and other food and canteen waste, and also grass cuttings) and drier, crisper "brown" materials (such as autumn leaves, straw, hay, sawdust, shredded paper, and cardboard) to work effectively. This requires a level of know-how and diligence within the school staff or Green Schools committee that may be difficult to maintain.

 

A much easier and more satisfactory solution for most schools would be a wormery such as the one pictured. This is a simple wooden box, filled with moist bedding material similar to the "brown" materials mentioned above, and stocked with composting worms, also known as tiger worms. These tiger worms are easy to acquire - they can be bought, or even found naturally in a pile of compost or animal manure. They eat steady amounts of soft material such as fruit peelings, tea and coffee grounds, and will also eat their bedding, turning it all into compost.

 

 

 

 

 

The advantages of a wormery include:

Easy and effective management of school's food waste

Can be kept in a shed or outdoors in a sheltered spot

Can easily be sheathed with wire mesh as extra precaution against rodents - though this should not be necessary

Produces a very high-quality compost

Great educational and nature awareness tool for children. A compost bin can be a "black hole" for dumping waste, while a wormery raises awareness of the ecology and importance of a usually unseen little creature.

 

Of course, composting is great but reducing food waste is more important. A glimpse into the typical school's compost or waste bin reveals whole uneaten apples, oranges, bananas and sandwiches that have been discarded. The Stop Food Waste campaign www.stopfoodwaste.ie helps children and adults to become aware of food waste and how to reduce it, saving themselves money while helping the environment.

The Stop Food Waste website also offers lots of valuable information on composting, for example the excellent "Composting - A Household Guide" booklet which can be downloaded at

http://stopfoodwaste.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2017-Compost-Booklet-Web-Version.pdf

Paper copies of this are also available by contacting Stop Food Waste.

 

For school visits on food waste and composting, including information on wormeries, contact Donal O' Leary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 087 7409304.

 

Article and Images by Donal. 

 

Native Pollinator Corridors

Native plant corridors attract pollinators and wildlife to various areas by stretching across lands to connect your piece of native habitat to nearby meadows, wetlands or woodlands. This creates a much larger area for native pollinators to forage, raise young and migrate.

Corridors may run along a road, between fields, in hedgerows, on the edge of a forest.  Create a Pollinator Corridor simply by a simple ethos

Dont Mow let it Grow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife friendly Shrub Bed

Do Not Cut Back!

Leave all Flowers and seed heads on Shrubs to Feed Bird During

Winter

Sign:

“Don’t Prune me, Cause I will Feed the Birds this Winter”

 

Examples of great Shrubs would be ;

 Leycesteria Pheasant Berry, Cotoneaster, Rosehip, Crategus

For a Full list check out

 

http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/irish-pollinator-initiative/all-ireland-pollinator-plan/schools/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you made a bee and Bug hotel .

 

 

 

here are a few images that might inspire you .

But create your own Bug Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insects are an integral part of a successful garden. Some beneficial insects can actually help control and reduce the populations of detrimental insects, and many are responsible for the pollination of flowers, both ornamental and for food crops. By providing these insects with inviting homes, you can help promote their wellbeing and contribute to increasing their numbers. When spring arrives, you’ll have all the pollintors on hand that you need and many of your guests will devour the unwanted pests in your garden, getting the season off to a good start.

 

 

 

 

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After all the snow and sleet of the previous week, the beast from the East was finally banished and there was an air of spring in the air and the sun shone brightly.

The team at Griffins in  Dripsey pulled out all the stops to get everything ready for the official Launch of the Muintir na Tire Cork School garden Competition. Muintir na Tire, Cork County Council Environment and Heritage Sections and Griffins Garden Centre have all come together to organise this exciting competition and the sixth annual competition is now officially open and many primary schools across the County have already entered.

 

 

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Speaking at the Launch County Mayor Declan Hurley spoke of his own love of gardening and praised this great initiative that helps children to learn the importance of nature while staying active

Special guests included the children and teachers of Skibbereen Boys National School Overall winner in 2017 and Coachford and Aughabullogue National Schools. These schools got the opportunity to meet and chat with local beekeepers and learn the importance of Bee friendly Gardening. 

 

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Margaret Griffins and the Local beekeepers are asking schools to help protect our bees and Plants Bee friendly gardens. Her message is simple. Plant flowers and bees will follow. This year Griffins are again awarding a special award for the best Bee friendly Garden.

Margaret and her team also gave the children and teachers lots of invaluable advice on recycling and potting up old wellies, old handbags and even using their new compostable coffee cups, which can be planted directly into the soil.

 

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Dr. Mary Stack encouraged schools to rethink, repair, refurbish along with reusing & recycling items in their garden, as this is very important for the environment.

 

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Conor Nelligan Heritage urged schools to think Biodiversity when gardening. He particularly suggested the inclusion of natural hedges, log piles, bird boxes, bird tables, wildflower meadows, nature-trails and the use of native flora. This year being Blian Na Gaelige Conor urged schools to use Irish in their school garden, maybe highlighting the names of trees and plants as Gaelige. He also suggested that schools be creative

 

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The main theme for this year is Climate Change and the Garden Categories include Edible Gardens, Biodiversity/Wildlife Garden, Up-Cycling, Art and colour Garden, Mixed Garden,   Small Garden, Best New Garden , Creative Ireland Innovation and Creativity, use of Irish in gardening and the overall best  Pride of County Cork Garden  All  schools all automatically judged for this Award.

 

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Log on now to www.muintir cork.com to register your school for The 2018 School gardens competition.  

 

 

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This is the time of the year, when we look out into our garden and Patio and see that all our beds and pots need a burst of colour  to revitalise them . The beautiful primrose is just the plant to give instant colour to your outdoor living area. Did you know that the primrose is comonnoly know as the first rose of the year,   It is also known as a primula and has about 1000 varieties. The best known is the common primrose, the bright yellow flower that not only grows in our gardens, but can be found in woodlands, hedgerows and shady meadows. It grows up to 20 cms high and has oval tapering leaves which form a rosette. The solitary yellow flowers are borne on long hairy stalks and usually appear from now until May. These are the most popular colour mainly because they reminds us of the primroses on the hedgrerows we see along our walks. But the array of colours of primroses is vast. Every colour from reds, purples to whites. Underplant your everygreen shrubs in pots or in your garden with a mixture of Colours.
Care of Pimroses.Primroses are  traditional fully frost-hardy plants will survive the harshest of Irish winters and will reward you with a burst of colour in the spring.  If you study where primroses survive in the wild , its always on a dry ditch or bank,notice how they grow at an angle allowing excess rain to run off. If you copy this type of planting, use grit for good drainage and tilt you plants at an angle to allow excess water to drain off. Your primroses will flower right through until late april.With many families and communities preparing for events next month such as St patricks day and Confirmations, this is the perfect time to Brighten up your pots. When you are adding the colour to your Pots, this is the perfect time to also feed your Planted up containers, I recommend grosure 6 month slow relase feed . push 2 -3 tablets ( medium size pots ) under the soil in each pot an you pot will be fed until Autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

Its a new year and Spring is just about to arrive. What projects will be done  in our school garden this year. 

Through out the year Griffins will give tips on various topics that maybe of interest in your school. 

Our first one for 2018 is Wild Flower meadows in schools and communities.

 

Is there an area in your school garden that is perfect for a wildflower meadow or can it be grown along the verge of the pitch or path. Can we create a pollinator corridor  in an area of the garden. 

These maybe a few questions that you may like to consider.  

 

 

The vibrant colour and low maintenance required for a wild flower seed meadow are the main reasons why wild flower meadows have grown in popularity of the years. Many communities, tidy town and schools are now creating wild flower meadows through out the communities. With signs up saying Messages like "Don't mow let it Grow" . 

 

These areas create a haven for our pollinators and wildlife.  Many gardeners are including a wild flower area in their gardens, especially in areas hard to mow with your lawnmower or along ditches.  

Such a pretty way to attract the bees and butterflies.

Follow these easy guidelines below and prepare the soil properly to create your own wildflower meadow. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When choosing the area you would like to plant it is worth considering if the prevailing winds will blow the seeds from the wild flowers onto the lawn. This is one thing that you do not want to happen as some of the flowers may seed in your lawn creating a problem later on. If it is a shady area under trees, choose a shade loving seed mix.   

 

 

Preparation: Unfortunately, just throwing out a few seeds won’t produce the desired results. You will need to prepare the soil. The main Objection is to remove any plantation that will compete with the wildflower. Remove all the wild grass and weeds like nettles etc. For small areas, remove weeds by hand or cover with black plastic or a weed-suppressing membrane for a few months prior to sowing.lightly dig over the ground to loosen the soil and rake.

When choosing the seed, I would recommend mixing both an annual seed and perennial seed mix. The results are much better. In most areas, it is much easier to spread the seeds by hand as you will have a better control. read the instructions on the box of seeds for best advice on rates of seeds per sq m . Its unlikely here in cork, but if required you may need to water the ground during dry periods until the plans become established. Afterwards keep an look out for weeds too and remove them as quickly as possible. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upcycle probably the easiest way to do it in a school.

Creative Wild flower Containers.

Wild flowers will grow very well in containers and Pots. It is a great way to upcycle  an old wheelbarrow , bath or Container. Always ensure there is good drainage holes in the container and a layer of horticultural Grit at the bottom to ensure excess water will drain away. Then fill with a mixture of compost and grit and sow your wildflower seeds. Always mix both annuals and perennial flower seeds to ensure a vibrant display each year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make your own Wildflower Guerilla Seed Bombs with Children:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a fun way to get children interested in gardening. There is something satisfying about the idea of tossing seeds of wild flowers  into wasteland with the hope that it will magically turn into a flowery meadow and it is so easy to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make the seed bombs, the ingredients are simple: Clay/soil, Compost, water and a pinch of seeds. Mix equal parts compost  with clay / soil with a little bit of water until you have a dough that sticks together but is not soggy. Next press your finger into the ball to create a bowl shape. This is where you will place a pinch of wildflower seeds. Gently roll the seed into the inside of the ball and set aside.  The seed bombs can be left out for a couple of hours or days to firm up. Afterwards They should then be stored in a plastic bag in a cool place until you and the children are ready to engage in your guerilla seed bombing action. Fling the seed Bombs into wasteland at the bottom of the garden or along the road. Don't forget if its not your land ask the owner if its ok to colour their world with Flowers. I would recommend a pollinator friendly mix of wild seeds . The bees will be buzzing with Joy. 

 

 

 

 Pasáiste na bPailneoirí:  Pollinator Corridor

a carpet of wild flowers:  brat bláthanna fiáine

Colour your world:  cuir dath id shaol

 

 

 

 

Climate Change and Gardening

Gardening is a great way to reduce Your Carbon footprint . Part of Climate Change Soloution

 

Did you know when you plant tree and Plants they eat up Carbon dioxide. There are many ways how gardening helps reduce our Carbon footprint. Can you think of Any.

Here is 1 idea to get you started :

 Use planters and containers made from upcycled materials.  Planted up tyres instead of dumping them.

 

 

If there is any topic you would like covered in  this blog, Please feel free to email us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

Are you looking for seed Pots to Plant up your seeds. Griffins have used compostable Takeaway coffee cups : free to A good Gardening. Pop into griffins and Pick up some Compostable Cups.

 

 

Griffins 5th Annual Charity Cycle 2017

 

 

Charity Cycle 2017 DATE3

 

 

The Cycle For Charity 2016 raised €3154 for Cork Simon and One Ethiopia

This year will you get on your bike to help  raise well needed funds for Two Great Charities

This is Griffins Fifth Annual Cycle in aid of Cork Simon Community and One Man's Ethiopia.  Griffins has organised 2 Cycles in the scenic Dripsey area to suit all levels of Cyclist.

Granny Griffins will have complimentary Soup and Homemade Brown Bread in Griffins  for all Cyclists participating in the event on arrival back to Griffins. All Costs including Ambulances, labour, administration and catering for this event is covered by Griffins. So every Penny raised on the day will be going directly to the charities.

 

Cycle begins at 10 am on Sunday October 8th at Griffins of Dripsey

Registration starts at 9 am

Pre register or for Maps please  email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

or text 087 9517574 with  CYCLE, your name, route

 

Route for (86km)  Advanced Cycle https://ridewithgps.com/routes/25405910

Route For (60km)  Intermediate Cycle https://ridewithgps.com/routes/25405960

 

Each Steward along the route will have Water and Food, Also there will be a Food stop half ways. The back to Griffins to enjoy complimentary soup and Brown bread,

 

One Man's Ethiopia , Gerald Mc Sweeney works in Ethiopia for 3 months every year, providing badly needed help for the homeless, poor and dying people of Addi's Abba. Gerald will actually be In Ethiopia  on the 8th of October working with variuos families, Helping them to create a Home, Schooling and a Living to ensure they will become self sufficient and able to work their way out of homelessness in  Addis Ababa (Capital and largest city in Ethiopia)

 

Cork Simon Community :  Those working on the front lines of Cork's homelessness crisis

Take a Moment to watch this video By the Simon Community. This is why we are asking you to support this Charity Cycle.

 

https://www.facebook.com/CorkSimon/videos/1451741171529224/

 

 

Cork Simon Community works in solidarity with men and women who are homeless in Cork, offering housing and support in their journey back to independent or supported living. Each year Cork Simon supports over 1,200 people, providing accommodation, a daily soup run, access to health services, housing support, training and employment opportunities, addiction supports and connections to the community, to enable people to move out of homelessness. Now more than ever, as the housing and homelessness crisis continues, your support of Cork Simon is needed and greatly appreciated.

Cut t he red tape cyc20161

 

 

 

 

 

And the off cycle1

 

 

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