Archive for the ‘planning’ Category

THE ORGANIC WALLED GARDEN AT LISSADELL IN SLIGO THE MOST ATTRACTIVE AND PRODUCTIVE 2.2 ACRES I HAVE SEEN – FIRST WEEK IN SEPTEMBER 2010

Any visit to Sligo would not be complete without a visit to Lissadell House and Gardens. After a hearty breakfast at Seashore B&B nearby, the Saturday was clear to meet up with Dermot Carey, the dedicated and very talented head gardener at Lissadell. The walled garden has recently been awarded full organic certification and is a brilliant show-case for organic growing methods.

The rotation of crop families is followed but on this scale and with this diversity of crops it needs some explanation for the casual visitor. the diversity of colour and vegetable types is what strikes a visitor as truly impressive.

THE GREATEST ACT OF FAITH IN THE FUTURE, THE SOWING OF SEEDS – THIRD WEEK IN APRIL 2010

A few seeds every week get sown, mainly radish outdoors each Sunday in a window box to ensure a few are available for harvest each week  from April to November. Every couple of days, I would lay a few mung bean seeds in a ‘sprouter’ on the kitchen windowsill so I always have some fresh bean sprouts at the ready for the sandwiches and salad. Some lettuce seeds went in in February and other sowings will be made from time to time up to September, again to extend  availability and avoid gluts.

However each spring the kitchen garden requires what could be called the ‘BIG SOW’. This is when the bulk of annual flowers, veg and herb seeds are sown under glass and as they fill out in the seedtrays, out they go to grow on outdoors. Last year, the ‘BIG SOW’ was done on the 21st March, but with the shocking cold winter and late spring (not to mention other distractions in my life!), the ‘BIG SOW’ this year took place last Sunday evening 18th April. However Mother Nature can be kind hearted (volcanoes aside!) and seedlings have a way of putting on a spurt of growth as temperatures rise so all in all no need to panic if you still have to sow seeds this spring. Just read the instructions on the seed packets and get sowing.

Every gardener develops a system which suits the local situation. For what it is worth this is my system. My lean-to greenhouse (the one which looks like a phone box!) has five removeable shelves. Each shelf fits two seedtrays. Each seedtray fits 24 cubes of organic potting compost. Each cube is a growing module for a seedling to develop. I hope to grow 2 types of seed variety in each seedtray – so 12 seedlings of each variety is my optimum yield. Therefore, with 10 seedtrays on 5 shelves, I have just enough space to sow 20 different varieties of flowers, veg and herbs. So here goes……

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APRIL OVERVIEW OF GARDEN SHOWING PRINCIPLES OF CROP ROTATION – FIRST WEEK IN APRIL 2010

At last the sun is shining and the heat is like a long lost friend. Soil temperatures are still low and a touch of frost at night stops me from leaving greenhouse seedlings out at night. However, I put the  greenhouse seedtrays out during the day once seedlings are close to being of a size when they should be ready for planting in the soil. It helps to harden them off this way so they are not so shocked by being transplanted into the open soil.

The open soil in the kitchen garden is largely divided into four plots for separate vegetable families that I like to eat. (1) beet family eg beetroot and leaf beet. (2)brassicas eg kale, Brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli and cabbage. (3) legumes eg peas and beans, I put sweet pea in here too for a bit of colour. (4) alliums eg onions, leeks, garlic and shallots. I’m told that repeatedly growing the same crop in the one place year after year risks attracting a disease or pest which likes that crop. For example, brassicas can get clubroot. However that means no brassicas can be grown for maybe 25 years in that place. As with all things in life, prevention is better than cure. The video below may be of interest meanwhile.

RECOVERING FROM NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS WITH SOBER LOOK AT A FEW SEED CATALOGUES – FIRST WEEK IN JANUARY 2010

Having survived without sprain or injury on the ice  while heralding in the New Year, I was relieved to get a chance to sit down and see what seeds I had for the forthcoming planting season. With the ground frozen, the ordering of seeds is the ideal garden related activity for this time of year.

Giant Winter Leek

The gaps in my seed collection are to be filled once I get my orders in the post. The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim supplies most of my seed needs. See their online catalogue here. Giant Winter Leek, Rainbow Chard, Purple Sprouting Early Broccoli, Gold Rush Courgette and Sugar Grape Cherry Tomato are all on order.

Seed potatoes

I still need early (Orla) and second early (Carlingford) seed potatoes as well as a few annual flower seed to attract useful wildlife such as hoverfly and simply to make the garden more attractive to nose and eyes. There is to my mind nothing to beat the heady aroma of Night-Scented Stock on a warm summer evening (remember those!).

GROW IT YOURSELF COMES TO SWORDS – THURSDAY 10 DECEMBER 7pm

INTERESTED IN GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD IN SWORDS?

Inaugural Swords GIY Meeting on Thursday 10th December in Scoil an Duinnínigh, Feltrim Road

The Grow It Yourself movement comes to Swords! GIY networks aim to take the ‘self’ out of ‘self-sufficiency’ by getting back-garden growers together on a regular basis to talk, learn from each other and exchange tips. The meetings are free and open to people interested in growing at all levels, i.e. from growing a few herbs on a balcony to complete self-sufficiency, from beginners to old hands. Hundreds of people are involved in existing GIY groups around Ireland. Last week, for example, 60 people attended a very successful launch of GIY Balbriggan.

The first such meeting in Swords will be on Thursday 10th December in Scoil an Duinnínigh, Feltrim Road. Food & Horticulture Minister Trevor Sargent will be in attendance as well as Michael Kelly founder of the ‘Grow it Yourself’ movement and local man Mick Kelly who will be facilitating the meeting.

All of those interested are welcome to come along to Scoil an Duinnínigh on the Feltrim Road, opposite The Kinsealy Inn, at 7pm.

GOOD WAY TO REMEMBER ROTATION PLAN – THIRD WEEK IN OCTOBER 2009

The growing interest in amenity fruit and vegetable growing has given rise to the mushrooming of initiatives such as www.giyireland.com. In Balbriggan the local Horticultural Society has launched a course of workshops on vegetable growing co-ordinated by committee member, great local gardener [and indeed chef] Judith Chavasse. Her neighbour and veg growing expert Dave gave the first lecture. He emphasised the importance of laying out the growing area, ideally in six patches. One of the patches is for permanent crops like rhubarb (which can be planted now) or asparagus or blackcurrants, raspberries etc.

Five different families of vegetables are rotated annually around the  other five patches. There is now an easy way to remember which crop goes in the first patch, which in the second, third and so on. The aide memoire is ‘People Love Bunches Of Roses‘ which gives P-L-B-O-R. So plant potato family crops in the first patch, legumes in the second, brassicas in third, onion family and leeks etc in fourth and root crop in the fifth. When root crops are harvested, that patch gets enriched with compost and/or manure again to take the seed potatoes the next Spring. The same order is observed with each crop family moving up one patch in the rotation.

Thank you to Dave and the Balbriggan and District Horticultural Society for taking the guesswork out of which comes first in a rotation, legumes or brassicas!

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!