Susliving Gardening & Horticulture workshops @ Thomastown Town of Food Initiative: Weeks 1-3

Susliving Gardening & Horticulture workshops @ Thomastown Town of Food Initiative: Weeks 1-3

Susliving Gardening & Horticulture workshops @ Thomastown Town of Food Initiative: Weeks 1-3

The Thomastown Town of Food Gardening & Horticulture workshops are led by Susliving’s resident horticulturalist Elmer Dool and cover a wide range of useful and practical topics including Garden Design & Planning, Rainwater Harvesting, Composting and Garden Fruit.
Running in the Food Campus in Thomastown, these workshops are part of a series of ten in total and have been a great success. Despite some unfavourable weather conditions, the Gardening & Horticulture workshops have been a great source of learning and have also produced an initial set of constructed raised beds and compost bays which will be used in the Town of Food garden.


Week 1

We carried out survey of what is present on site, then discussed what structures were needed to make the project work, and then we planned how we could incorporate these structures into the site, using our own ideas and personalities.
A survey of the site included recording various factors that would influence our decision making process:  shelter/aspect/soil type/light and shade/access/drainage.
Included a discussion on garden design and how to incorporate a food garden ( vegetables and fruit ) into the overall design of a garden, in a practical and attractive way.
Having sourced over 7 varieties of different apples grown locally in a commercial orchard, we rated the apples in terms of flavour, colour, texture, size, and juiciness. This information and analysis will be used by the orchard owner as a valuable tool in growing apples that consumers enjoy, and that will grow successfully in local conditions.
Further discussions included the importance of pollination and dwarfing rootstocks when growing fruit trees.


Week 2

Construction of raised beds of different designs were made, to show  how these can be utilised in various ways in the domestic garden situation. The advantages of raised beds for growing fruit bushes and vegetables was discussed.
The construction of a leaf mould bin was completed, made from recycled pallets , and then we gathered fallen autumn leaves and  put them in the bin, these will then decompose and can be incorporated into the soil next autumn to enrich it.
We ended the session with a discussion about different trees that berry in the autumn, how they can be grown, and where they fit In with the overall design of a garden, and why they are beneficial to bird life.
We also identified samples of more unusual food crops that are easy to grow in Kilkenny, like Jerusalem artichokes, fig trees, and even some outdoor grape varieties that ripened this year and were sweet to eat!


Week 3

We finished constructing the various raised beds and painted them with a wood preservative .
We constructed a number of compost bins made of recycled pallets, making sure they were secure and level when in their final position.
The session ended with a lively talk about different types of hedging plants, their function, how to choose, source and then plant them,  and importantly, how to look after them over the years, to ensure they grow successfully.




Here you will find the worksheets that were used in the workshops for Weeks 1-3:

Garden Design

Survey Sketch Plan

Tree Planting

Soil Testing

Soil Test Flow Chart

The Susliving Team

The Susliving Team

The Susliving Organisation was founded by a group of individuals with a diverse range of experience and expertise in sustainability in Ireland and internationally, for the purpose of promoting and exploring ideas about sustainable living at school, at work and throughout the community.