Archive for the ‘Cabbage’ Category

LAST APPLE JUICED AND HONEY POTTED, TIME TO CLEAR GARDEN FOR AUTUMN PLANTING – SECOND WEEK IN OCTOBER 2010.

Made a start on clearing the spent pea and bean stalks and haulms. I did not dig them out, just chopped them at ground level so their roots remained in the soil. These legume roots have nodules of nitrogen fixed from the air during their growing season. I’m told this is valuable for the cabbage plants I hope to plant in this patch shortly as all the brassica family are hungry for nitrogen.

Still have beetroot to dig up and bottle for storage over the winter. Before long I will need to spread the mature compost from the composter around the garden and make a new batch by layering the compost tumbler contents with the greenery from spent veg and hedge clipping. However I’ll need to set aside a Sunday sometime soon to get a good run at that job which comes around every 6 months, autumn and spring.

THANKS TO ST TERESA’S SCHOOL VISIT, THE KITCHEN GARDEN GETS A SLOT ON TV3 – FIRST WEEK IN AUGUST 2010.

Got a call from TV3 to come on the Morning Show programme on Tuesday 3rd August to discuss this website. The spark of interest was

On the set of The Morning Show with hosts Brian Daly and Sybil Mulcahy

lit by the impromptu visit by pupils from St Teresa’s National School and the al fresco recording of ‘The Garden Song’, I think. So a big thank you again to Ms. Lee and her young vegetable growing and singing students. The number of visitors to the website after the TV3 broadcast would have filled the garden itself many times over! Take a look here.

Meanwhile the Mammoth Russian sunflowers are flowering one by one. They are the skyscrapers of the garden and the bees love them. The lavender also is in full bloom and festooned with bumblebees and honey bees. The bees are not in the least bit bothered by me or any other mammal moving about the garden. It saddens me to hear about the phobia people mention about bees and wasps. I would be more cautious about wasps as they can sting and sting again later. However a bee will not sting unless the hive is threatened. After all, a bee dies in a gruesome way once it has stung, laying down its life for the hive.

Bees enjoying the Sunflower

This is the time of year to enjoy the fruits of earlier labour in the garden. However, the forward thinking gardener will be preparing to sow Spring Cabbage, Pak Choi and other salads, Radish every week or two and even Potatoes with harvest at Christmas in mind. Myself, I’ve put in a few more radish seeds and in a tub of soil, some lettuce seeds. Not very confident with the lettuce however as the packet says ‘ will not germinate over 18 degrees’. So fingers crossed. I’m not too worried as the garden is full of leafy plants which when mixed together make very interesting salads, such as chard, cabbage, nasturtium, dandelion, lettuces and various herbs. Even rose petals grown organically make an exotic addition to a salad bowl. As the person who said it said, variety is the spice of life (in as salad bowl).

WEATHER TURNS TROPICAL SO VIGILANT WATERING NEEDED – FOURTH WEEK IN JULY 2010

The garden becomes a place to have breakfast this week as the weather is warm if a little overcast. The cabbages, kale and broccoli are under attack however. The cabbage white butterfly has become very active. The advantage of having a small garden is I can easily enough inspect the leaf undersides for eggs and caterpillars. A quick rub with the thumb puts a halt to their gallop. Last year I had netting over the brassicas at this stage so I’ll be comparing whether caterpillar damage will be controllable this year or not.

Apart from the caterpillars the plants need watering and mulching to conserve moisture. Strong plants withstand attacks from predators so watering in the morning is like preventative health care for the plants.

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.

FIFTY VISITORS LAST THURSDAY EVENING TO OBSERVE AND DISCUSS THE RAPIDLY GROWING ‘GROW IT YOURSELF’ PHENONENOM – THIRD WEEK IN JUNE 2010.

Last Thursday, 10th June, 50 fellow kitchen gardeners dropped in at 7pm for a ‘tour’ of the garden and I managed to rustle up a cup of tea and cake  for them all.  It was Naul GIY group through Denise Dunne of The Herb Garden who first mooted the idea of a GIY garden visit and it turned out to be a very enjoyable and informative evening, (for me anyway!).

Naul was well represented as were GIYers from Skerries, Bog of the Ring, Lusk, Rush, Lucan, Donabate, Swords, Malahide, Garristown, Ballyboughal, Smithfield in Dublin City and of course Balbriggan GIY stalwarts were there too. I learned a fair few things myself from the banter during a balmy blue sky evening.

For example,  we were told garlic cloves are  best sown on the shortest day so they can be harvested on the longest day. So I look forward to celebrating the longest day by harvesting my modest garlic crop. It was suggested the Minister for Finance would appreciate a bulb or two. Supplying the Minister with garlic is the least I can do for my country!

The garden tour was also a win-win in that I had a very bushy cabbage patch which I needed to clear to make way for young beetroot and rainbow chard plants growing too big in modules. Lo and behold, the cabbage bush was stripped bare before the night was out. So over the weekend the remnants of last years brassica patch was finally transformed into a new season beetroot and rainbow chard patch. I hope my guests enjoyed cooking and tasting  this heritage variety of ‘everlasting cabbage’ which is generally not for sale in the shops.

Sadly this is but one example of fruit and vegetable varieties which used to be common but are now no longer widely available. I read that 100 years ago the USA had 100 times the varieties of edible plants available commercially compared to today. Humankind is becoming more and more dependent on fewer and fewer food species of flora or fauna. Worldwide three quarters of all food now derives from just 8 species. I read also that 98%  of all commercial seeds are controlled by just 6 companies, DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Aventis and Mitsiu. At the same time, a third of all USA health spending is on diet related problem and Ireland has a history of copying US trends,

So as well as kitchen gardening being an instument of healthy community resilience, co-operation and self-reliance, there is also a important job to do in maintaining and enchancing the diversity of food species that have been developed over generations  to make communities not just wealthy but healthy too.

Photos courtesy of C.Finn:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SEEDS SPROUTING AND CUTTINGS GROWING EVEN IN THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER 2009

Before I began kitchen gardening, I was very clear that seeds were sown in Spring, grew in Summer, were harvested in Autumn and during Winter was the time to oogle seed catalogues and plan for the next round of seasons. This week I’ve been forced to realise life is not that straightforward.

Out I went at first light to put the kitchen waste in the compost tumbler. What did I spot but broad bean plants popping their heads into the damp wintry air. The seeds I planted under the support  string ‘wig-wam’  have sprouted and are hardy enough to grow even in December. In my new brassica patch a few weeks ago I planted cuttings taken from the main everlasting cabbage crop in the old brassica patch. In recent weeks they have been limp and forlorn looking in the cold and wet weather. This week, however, I notice they have perked up and look like plants in their own right. I’m now confident I will have a crop of new cabbage leaves in the spring from the new brassica patch.

The old brassica patch will be cleared in Spring to make way for the spinach and beetroot seedlings. Meanwhile, next week, I’ve a plan to remove five jaded rose bushes which served me well over the last ten years. However, I’m advised that five new rose plants are now required as long as they are not planted in the same soil as their predecessors.

EVERLASTING CABBAGE CUTTINGS START OFF NEW BRASSICA PATCH – SECOND WEEK IN NOVEMBER 2009

Early Monday 9th November, before the phones start ringing, I steel an hour in the garden to start a new generation of everlasting cabbage plants. (This is a perennial hardy kale-like heritage cabbage variety obtained from Irish Seedsavers in Scarriff, Co. Clare.)  Last spring I put up a video clip of cuttings being taken from the previous years cabbage plants. However I want to experiment and see if the cuttings will root and survive if I plant them now before winter sets in instead of waiting until next spring.

Last spring, I molly-coddled the cuttings by planting them in pots of soil and bringing them on in the glasshouse before planting out in late March. This time I’ll try putting them directly into their newly prepared growing patch. This patch provided a good crop of beans and peas in the summer just gone by. The withered legume vines have gone for composting, the soil levelled and some well broken down compost dug in. The nitrogen nodules on the remaining roots of the old legume plants will, I hope, feed the newly planted cabbage cuttings in the year ahead.

All I need to do now is to pull off the ready-to-use side shoots from the parent everlasting cabbage plant. I tidy up the base of each cutting with a sharp knife. A diagonal cut gives the cutting a sharp point. This point  is pushed gently in to the soft soil. I firm in the cuttings one by one and water – voila!