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Weekly Column – June 17th 2017


To-ma-toes Megrim is one of the most frequently caught fish species by the Irish fishing fleet but is almost unknown on dinner tables here.  Almost 100% of our megrim stock is exported, usually to Spain and France, where it is much valued.  It’s a mystery as to why this lovely, year-round, sole-like fish is persona non grata for most Irish people, but then again most things about our attitude to fish in this country are a complete mystery.

Perhaps we are afraid of those occasional bones that you find lurking in the flesh or somewhat intimidated by the diversity of species (not quite as simple to get your head around as the pork, beef, chicken and lamb foursome of the meat world).  Perhaps it’s the association with the guilt-ridden, catholic Flagellation Fridays of yore – after all, nothing puts you off a food group quite like being told for decades that you have to eat it.  Whatever the cause, it is truly strange that an island nation such as ours has such an uncommitted relationship with fish.

Tony Kelly, our fish supplier here at GROW HQ, told me that even regular fish buyers are remarkably unadventurous in their shopping habits.  At his Dunmore East fish shop, customers will often ask him lots of questions about which fish is which in his vast and lovely displays of fresh catch, before finally settling on some salmon fillets.  Salmon is, of course, our most frequently purchased fish, which is a pity when you consider that most of it is farmed rather than caught in the open sea, and over €64 million worth of it is imported in to Ireland each year.

More than any other food, our understanding of the seasonality of different fish species is practically non-existent. That means we don’t generally ask questions at the fish counter for fear of looking silly.  We are often duped in to buying imported, cheaper, lower quality fish while the in-season quality Irish stuff is exported to where it’s more appreciated.  Strangely, though we have a fishing industry worth €1 billion per annum, we still import over €200m worth of fish each year.

A full, fresh megrim can be cooked on the bone (just like sole) on day one, and then the bones used to make a stock for a day-two fish / vegetable broth using whatever veggies are seasonal.  Have a look at the recipe below from JB, our Head Chef.  It’s a delicious bowl of seasonal, healthy goodness using veg from our land, and fish from our seas.  What’s not to love?

The Basics – Watering Tomato Plants

At this stage of their development, it’s vital to make sure your tomato plants are getting enough water.  Because they are a deep-rooting plant, it’s not effective to spray water at the soil (or worse, at the plant itself, which would encourage blight).  The key is to get water right down to the roots.

I find that the best way to do this is by sinking a container in to the soil beside the plant and water in to that.  I use upturned 2l milk cartons with the bottoms cut off them and the spout facing down.  Watering becomes a job of simply filling the container, confident in the knowledge that the plant is getting 2l of water where it needs it most.

Watering ‘at depth’ like this also means the plant is less vulnerable to drying out in very warm polytunnel days, because the water won’t evaporate as easily as it would from the surface of the soil.

I water the tomato plants in the tunnel this way every other day – as a rough guide you want to give the plants about 10l of water per week.