About the John Seymour School

© William Sutherland, Alnwick, UK. -  Website created by Alterculteurs

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John Seymour came to live in Ireland in 1981 when he began work on developing his smallholding in County Wexford. A regular series of summer courses was started in 1993.     Will Sutherland joined John in running courses soon afterwards and continued to work with John until his death at the age of 90 in 2004.   Will continues to run courses and give workshops on the many and various topics covered by the Complete Book.

 

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THE DROUGHT IS OVER, THE SUMMER IS PAST AND THE HARVEST IS IN HAND!


It has been an unusual year (again!). Our spring sowing was almost immediately followed by 6 weeks of blazing sunshine - not a good recipe for the germination of such reluctant growers as carrots and parsnips. Salad crops did well and so did the sweetcorn, butternut squashes, courgettes etc. planted out from the greenhouse. But it was simply impossible to control weeds by hoeing on the plots sown with carrot and parsnips - this meant a lot of tedious hand weeding many weeks later when the tiny seedlings finally began to appear.      When the rains finally came the garden simply jumped into bountiful life - masses of soft fruits (blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries etc.`), loads of apples and currently our first big crop of plums from the new trees. Our July/August course turned out to be a great success. Our one wet day was spent productively making baskets - a good time was had by all - and then there was continuous activity and teaching in the garden.  

We did all the usual things – making bread, beer and sausages, harvesting beans and blackcurrants (and putting many bags into the deep freeze), making super meals, drinking lots of wine, visiting pubs and walking over moors and beaches. We went to the Craster concert of Andy and Margaret Watchorn. We sowed seeds, weeded couch grass, learned to scythe nettles and thistles. We used the compost heap and the rotavator and we learned how to burn huge quantities of hedge cuttings and prunings. We talked about politics, evolution and the cosmic battle between life and entropy. We talked about money, corporations and the shortcomings of democracy. We mused over the complexities and potential power of crypto-currencies. We teased each other and laughed a lot. We learned new card games and shared ideas on best films and books. They said it was the most inspiring week of their lives and that they would always keep in touch. We hugged and kissed and said “goodbye”.


The Bountiful summer garden     Despite the challenge posed by hot dry weather, the summer garden has been wonderfully bountiful - as you can see from the picture above (taken from high up on the garden wall!)      The summer rains also came just in time to boost the crop of pink fir apple potatoes (they seem remarkably resistant to blight!).      The picture shows a wheelbarrow full - harvested from just 16 seed potatoes.     That's the true bounty of nature for you - all from this wonderful rich soil.