Innis Oirr – gardening against all odds

Plant inishoirrIMG_1522Gardening is the one hobby I can think of where optimism, enthusiasm, plant-coveting and sheer stubbornness all come together in one, for non-gardeners, weird and for us gardeners very wonderful package. I for one have developed a love of chili plants, no matter that I am in climate zone where there isn’t 1) enough sun 2) enough heat 3) a  long enough summer and there is a very cold and miserable winter that would be fatal for the plants, I’ve decided that this is what I like to grow – and make into jams and chutneys of course. While I admit to being slightly pig-headed regarding the whole chili plant in the snow topic, the inhabitants of Innis Oirr, who also have to coax plants to grow in a harsh and unfriendly setting, do so out of necessity. On Innis Oirr – the smallest Aran Island with a total population a couple shy of 300 – just off the coast of Ireland – growing food and creating meadows from rock-strewn land to feed the animals will have been a necessity. In the initial years the Aran Islands were apparently heavily forested which maintained the delicate ecosystem. The first settlers used the trees for building materials and so the islands were exposed to the elements and the topsoil to the wind and rain (according to this source). While Innis Oirrhas a very good climate, a long growing season and a rich  flora where many different species of wild plant exist happily side by side in the sandy earth, in order grow food crops the islanders mixed beach sand with seaweed and fish-meal and manure to create “soil”:

Garden in Inishoirr



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