Archive for the ‘Feeding’ Category


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’.



Warmest day of 2009 so far on Sunday 24th with 18c in Balbriggan. Planted out beetroot and leaf beet seedlings in the final plot of the four to be set with this years crop. With the bright dawn so early now, it is a real pleasure to get up and out before breakfast to hand hoe between rows just to savour the optimism of a vegetable garden beginning to fill out with growing plants.

The week has been an interesting one too, visiting a community garden in Rosscarbery in West Cork with Green Party / Comhaontas Glas candidate from Clonakilty, Bernie Connolly. Called in on a number of school gardens in the area including Gaelscoil Chloch na Coillte. Thug leanai rang a haon pictiur alainn dom. Taim an-bhroduil as!

Tuesday, I helped launch a Grow Your Own free seed project sponsored by Glenisk, the organic dairy business. The free seed project is to be run by The Organic Centre in Co Leitrim. Had a good chat with Andy and Hans from the Centre afterwards.

Back in Fingal, called in to Trinity House, Oberstown near Lusk to see their wonderful new fruit and vegetable garden. The youngsters are driving this development and I was delighted to plant a ‘James Grieve’ apple tree, the same variety as my solitary apple tree at home which gives me a great supply of juice to last a whole year. The Trinity House garden also has two other very tasty dessert varieties, ‘Katie’ and my favourite, ‘Elstar’.

Other garden jobs done during the week include weeding the front garden, cutting the grass. I used the clippings to mulch around the raspberries this time. Harvested comfrey and added leaves to comfrey liquid feed. Quare smell but great stuff or so organic growers tell me. I know about the smell and I’ll know more about the growing effects of the feed in due course after I’ve diluted it to water and feed my tomato and courgette plants.