Have you tried growing your own?

watercolour painting of seedlings by eoin mac lochlainn
“Ceapach/seedlings” watercolour, 54x56cm, 2021

Yes, it’s that time of year.  I’m a nervous wreck!  I’ve been waiting for the last couple of weeks for something to happen in the potato patch but so far: nothing.  Every day I checked to see if the there was any green shoots, any sign of life, and every day the same old black earth, without even a weed deigning to raise its leafy head, not even a snail to grace us with his (or her) presence… until yesterday!

Yesterday I looked and my heart leapt. I had to look twice but yes, there was certainly something dark green and leafy bravely pushing its way out of the soil. Hallelujah!  I know, I know, I should have more faith. I should just be patient and let nature take its course but every year, it’s the same old story.  I worry.  I worry until I see the plants emerging to greet the sun.

watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of potato patch in the Aran Islands
my watercolour sketch of a potato patch on Inis Oírr

But you know, there’s an art to growing potatoes – and the true artists are out there on the Aran Islands. They must be well on their way at this stage, the lazy beds dug, the sand and the seaweed mixed in, the lovely green shoots pushing out of the light brown soil… I was really taken with those potato patches some years ago, when I was over on Inis Oírr, on an artist’s residency at Áras Éanna.  I’ve been growing my own fataí ever since.

And once I get past that first hurdle, the long anxious wait, I just feel an immense appreciation for the wonder of nature and the amazing bounty that bursts forth from the earth.  Definitely worth giving it a go, wouldn’t you say?

photo of dew on cobweb by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of dew on cobweb

And once you’re involved in planting, you begin to notice other things.  You become more aware of the weather, the bees, the worms, slugs, biodiversity, climate change, life, the universe, EVERYTHING.

And there’s nothing like going out to your own garden and digging up some spuds.  Have you tried it yet?




PS: The painting at the top was in a solo exhibition of mine at The Olivier Cornet Gallery entitled: “Is glas iad na Cnoic” in April 2021.  Here’s a film from then which featured a conversation with the art historian Jackie Ryan



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