by Barry Marshall on July 7th
The unofficial symbol of Ireland is the shamrock and it is used for its medical properties but is better known for bringing good luck.
Shamrock growing on a commercial scale is a very specialist and skilled business. It is very difficult to produce the perfect crop for such a specific date, St Patrick's Day.
The process is normally started when the crop is sown in September. Germination follows soon after and the plants are then potted before Christmas, almost ready for March 17. Frost can cause a hazard to the young leaves whilst other conditions such as watering and airing must be specifically controlled to allow to bring the plants to market on time. Everyone wants a beautiful and bright bushy shamrock, this means the feeding and chemical regimes are very important. As St Patrick's Day fast approaches, the orders start for the shamrock. The plant wholesalers from cities such as Glasgow and Liverpool, that have a great Irish connection and celebrate St Patrick's Day, buy in bulk.
As people have busy lives, they prefer to buy the shamrock rather than try and hunt down the small plant in the wild. Unfortunately, intensive farming has put pressure on the shamrock, which has caused crowding it out and drowning its leaves with harmful chemicals and toxins. In the attempt to reseed with foreign grasses, the shamrock became a forgotten and dull plant, which was not as glamorous as the exotic replacement.
Now the shamrock is bouncing back as a return to a more laid back approach to farming has replaced the intensive production.
The shamrock may have endured some tough times but now things are back on the up for the symbol of Irish luck.
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