About those lettuce seeds I mentioned sowing recently, they did germinate fine. It is a good thing I was not dissuaded from sowing by the message on the seed packet, ‘will not germinate when temperatures are above 18c’. I remind myself again that seeds WANT to grow, given a reasonable start and half a chance. However the better the conditions, the more vigorous the growth.

Thanks to the generosity of Green colleagues in Fingal, I recently celebrated a ‘significant birthday’ with a tantalizing voucher for a small 8′ by 6′ greenhouse which they ordered from The Botanic Greenhouse Company in Swords. (Thank you one and all in the Fingal Greens). It will be winter time when I get to clear a space for this new addition to the kitchen garden, but in the meantime I’m on a learning curve. Suppose you could say I’m studying the ‘greenhouse effect’ in miniature! In farming, the term for growing under glass or in a polytunnel is ‘protected cropping’.

I was delighted to visit Nicky Kyle in Ballyboughal, Fingal, to get her advice on getting the best from a polytunnel or greenhouse. Nicky has been growing organically  for a few decades and her diverse produce sells well at Balbriggan Fish and Farmers’ Market every Friday morning.

The diversity of plants in just one polytunnel we visited was impressive. Even more impressive was the range of varieties of each species.

Here are a few examples:

CHERRY TOMATO; Variety ‘ROSADA’, a very sweet and tasty mini-plum shape available from Simpson Seeds. A lovely smack cut in halves with some hummus.

CHERRY TOMATO: Variety ‘SUNGOLD”, round and bright yellow when ripe and explodes with flavour in the mouth.

BEEF TOMATO: Variety ‘BLACK CRIM’, this year with the good summer, almost size of decent pumpkin, but struggles normally at this latitude, much prefers Sardinia probably!

ALPINE STRAWBERRIES: Variety ‘REUGEN’ good continuous cropper over summer months. Quite soft so need eating soon after picking. (I can live with that!) Grown from seed and bought by mail order from Chiltern Seeds.

FRENCH BEAN: Variety ‘COBRA’ excellent flavour and large pod size when ripe. French beans can be encouraged to crop again following first harvest if leaves are stripped off after cropping which triggers more fruiting I am told.

COURGETTE: Variety ‘Atena’ yield healthy and tasty yellow courgettes and does well as tunnel crop.

GRAPE: Variety ‘LAKEMONT’ seedless white grape which I saw growing well in a bucket sized pot. Mobile enough to put out in warmest weater and lifted back in again to be wintered under cover.


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