Archive for the ‘Strawberry’ Category

TIME OUT TO CELEBRATE WITH THE ORGANIC CENTRE, CO LEITRIM – THIRD WEEK IN JULY 2010

The garden at home is bursting with produce right now. The peas and beans, kale and cabbage, chard Swiss and Rainbow are all featuring in the kitchen. Courgettes and pumpkins are in flowers. The raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants often don’t make it as far as the kitchen. The tomatoes are ripening and the sunflowers are reaching for the sky. However, one sunflower succumbed to a slug attack. They chewed all around the base, ‘ring-barking’ the plant so it wilted. It is now unable to take up water and nutrients from the roots. The wasps then feasted on the sweet sap exposed , but ‘it wuz the slugs wot dunnit’. So copper anti-slug tape has been wrapped around the healthy tall sunflower nearby so fingers crossed I have thwarted another sneaky slug attack.

Slugs or no slugs, this weekend was a great time to gather at The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim for the annual Garden Party on Sunday 18th July,  for growers and eaters of home-grown garden produce. Neven Maguire, the legendary chef from Blacklion in nearby Co. Cavan kept a huge audience enthralled by mouth-watering ways of preparing chard, tomatoes and hake. He made pesto making look really easy. I could see tongues (almost) hanging out as he prepared a delicious tiramisu.

Then  famous vegetable gardening author, Joy Larkcom and her husband Don from West Cork did a fascinating presentation on growing salads of the cut and come again varieties, with good handouts and illustrations on PowerPoint.

The team at the Organic Centre, many of whom are volunteers, provided delicious soups and lunches, teas and coffees, cakes and all manner of refreshments for the 500 or so who came for a great day out in dry warm ‘Lovely Leitrim’.

Hans and Gaby Wieland and Andy Hallewell and all the Organic Centre team were thanked by me at the end of the day just before I pulled the raffle tickets for the Castlebaldwin Donkey Sanctuary. The Centre and the Sanctuary raised a few bob and need to raise much more, I have no doubt both people and donkeys went home happy.

The Organic Centre has some great courses coming up and other events. I learned a huge amount there about picking and preparing mushrooms. Check out their website at www.theorganiccentre.ie and go visit them, they need your support.

SETTING UP GREENHOUSE FOR WINTER – SECOND WEEK IN OCTOBER 2009

Spare time has been in short supply. Any couple of hours free on a Sunday afternoon has been spent in the garden. With the dry mild weather and the wish to be outdoors, the Trevor’s Kitchen Garden.ie  site has been neglected. You could say I was saving the blog update work for a rainy day.

This week was ideal for clearing out the spent tomato plants from the greenhouse. The grow boxes of soil which had given a good crop of cherry and brandywine tomatoes were emptied onto the bare patch of soil from where the onions had just been harvested.

Having swept the floor and washed down the glass, I then put back the removeable shelving in the greenhouse. These shelves are now stocked with pots of winter lettuce and basil. Another pot is growing shamrock as an experiment. The floor space is now filled with a three tier strawberry planter which will go outdoors in Spring when next years two tomato plants need their space again. The lettuce pots will also give way to next Spring’s seed trays in due course but not until I have had my fair share of salad sandwiches.

HARVESTING SECOND-EARLY POTATOES AND GIVING THE GARDEN SHED ROOF A ‘HAIR-CUT’ – FOURTH WEEK IN JULY 2009

The growing of Duke of York in car tyres and Carlingford in large 2 foot diameter pots has yielded a reasonable harvest. Both varieties are second-early potatoes. However the tyre grown Duke of York produced larger tubers and a heavier crop overall. It seems the tyres retained moisture better than the pots. The tyres were sitting on the open soil too which helped with moisture coming from below.

Apart from the crop, the emptying of pots and tyres has given me a lovely supply of spare friable soil. I also cleared the mange-tout plants away as that crop was well eaten and enjoyed. This gives me a little clearing amongst the profuse vegetation.

This clearing and the supply of friable soil means it is easy now to pot up the strawberry runners I wrote about last week. I also want to propogate ivy plants as ground cover in my shady front garden. Having  retrieved enough empty plant pots, all I need now are ivy cuttings to plant up.

Ivy is growing well on my wild flower garden shed roof. In fact it needs to be cut back. I’m having friends and neighbours around on Saturday evening and need to cut back any overhanging obstacles. The ivy I cut back, instead of going into the compost bin,  this time gets a second chance as cuttings.

With Ryan Tubridy at the Tubridy Show

Minister Sargent presents Ryan Tubridy with some home-grown goodies. Ryan looks bemused at the Dutch Hoe he's holding!

There is satisfaction in getting timing right in a small garden. Gardeners generally appreciate this. I hope Ryan Tubridy appreciates the hamper of fresh veg and fruit I gave him at the end of our short chat on his last radio show before the summer break. I certainly appreciate the publicity the radio show gave to this website. The hits shot up dramatically following the broadcast. The power of radio, even more powerful than comfrey tea! HEALTH WARNING: Comfrey tea is a strong smelling plant feed, good for fruiting tomatoes but not for human consumption. The Irish Times please note!

RONDO PEAS WIN PRIZE AT RUSH HORTICULTURAL SHOW. MEANWHILE STRAWBERRY RUNNERS NEED PLANTING UP – THIRD WEEK IN JULY 2009

Rush and District Horticultural Show was held at St Maur’s GAA Centre, Rush, 2009_RushandLusk01Co Dublin, on Saturday 11 July. I chanced my arm and entered a 3 pod set of Enorma broad beans, 8 strings of blackcurrants and a 6 pod set of Rondo peas. Considering there were 11 other pea class entries I was delighted to see a ‘first prize’ sticker beside my plate of peas. A little praise goes a long way, just like the smell of comfrey tea!

Meanwhile, the three strawberry plants are continuing to generously yield delicious fruit. Each day I pick a couple of freshly ripened strawberries to take in a lunchbox to my Department pof Agriculture office. I notice the plants are also sending forth runners in the hope they will land on fertile soil to form new plants. Now is the time to help the runners to root and grow into new plants which will fruit along with their parents next summer.

All I need to do is collect a few plant pots, fill them with good soil and place them in the vicinity of the sprawling runners. Then I, gently using a ‘wish-bone’ shaped twig, pin the runners in the pots of soil. As long as they are not let dry out, the new plants should grow away happily and develop a good root system. Once the plants are growing well in their pots, I will transplant them to their final position when they are to fruit next summer.

Mid-June review.

The garden is full of lif right now. It’s fantastic to see how much growth there has been in the last month. The weather has been almost ideal, with lots of bright sunny days and the occassional shower to keep things moist. The video gives a quick tour of the garden and it’s interesting to compare it with the overview taken in May. It’s geting difficult for the camerman to find a place to stand!

FIRST WEEK IN JUNE – GOODBYE BLACKFLY ON BROAD BEANS

What a scorcher of a holiday weekend with temperatures in the mid twenties! Thanks to Bord Bia and their key sponsors, Bloom in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, did a great service in encouraging armchair gardeners to have a go at growing some of their own food. I had the honour of opening the Michelle Obama garden or more officially the ‘White House Garden’. This opening took place in the presence of the Acting-Ambassador from the USA, Mr Robert J Faucher. The Acting-Ambassador graciously accepted a bag of fresh radish from my garden in appreciation for the help from the USA Embassy in establishing this iconic garden at Bloom. It is the first time an ‘Obama Garden’ has been replicated outside the USA.2009_0609GrdnClarkes-cfinn0034

Meanwhile back at the ‘ranch’ in my own garden, the blackfly colonised the growing tips of my broad beans. Solution? A hand held mist sprayer filled with water and a drop of washing-up liquid. Find a jet setting by twisting the nozzle. A strong jet from the sprayer dislodges these black little aphids. Those I miss will hopefully be eaten by ladybirds and hover flies. This has now become an early morning  routine along with hoeing and watering.

Adding comfrey "tea" to the watering cansThe tomato, potato and strawberries are flowering as are broad beans. Blackcurrants, raspberries and apples are growing their fruits now also. So I am putting a dollop of comfrey feed in each watering can I fill. The comfrey leaves when cut back are covered with water in a barrel with a tap. This ‘Comfrey Tea’ once diluted is a common organic feed used to help plants when they are coming in to fruit. Don’t mind the smell, it disappears as nature takes up the goodness within a few hours I find.

Now is the time to feed and water growing plants, fruit trees especially. We need to balance the necessity for watering our plants with the need to avoid wasting water, such a precious resource. In the video you’ll see some techniques I use, including making that famous ‘comfrey tea’.

Strawberry planting