Archive for the ‘Radish’ Category

DIRECT SOWING OF CARROT AND RADISH SEEDS – THIRD WEEK IN APRIL 2012

Every garden needs a gaffer - Arthur the cat supervises seed sowing from the comfort of his bed atop a bag of old leaves.

Last week I mentioned that with a small garden, sowing most seeds in small pots or seed trays with a view to transplanting the seedlings to open soil in a few weeks is my preference. However, some vegetable seedlings do not thrive if transplanted. Root vegetables especially prefer to be sown directly where they are to grow to maturity.

A terracotta large pot suits my garden as a place to grow carrots. I use my largest pot which is about 50cm across and 50 cm high. Placing it in the middle of the brassica patch, I put a few stones in the base to help water to drain out at the bottom. Then I fill it with the finest soil I have. This soil grew beetroot last year so there is no fresh compost in it and hardly any large stones. Once almost full, I scatter a couple of dozen seeds spaced about 3 -4 cm across the soil surface. I cover the seedbed with a skim of soil, pat it down with the palm of my hand and then water through the rose spout of a watering can.

The carrot variety I used this year was ‘Amsterdam Forcing 2’. March to August is the period to sow this variety. In August, I might try sowing some seeds in the greenhouse for a late harvest. With 800 in the average packet, I will not run out of carrot seed in my small garden for a while.

RADISH SEED SOWING

Meanwhile, the radish seedbeds are windowboxes each filled with soil from the patch growing cabbage and kale this year, as radish is also a brassica like them. Only growing the brassica family in the same soil once every 4 years hopefully will prevent me having to deal with the bane of the brassica vegetables, clubroot disease. Rotating each veg family around a 4 year rotation has spared me any serious plant diseases so far, buíochas le Dia.

Last year, I sowed a well known radish variety ‘French Breakfast’ from Madeleine Mc Keever, the West Cork  organic seed producer www.brownenvelopeseeds.com. This year, I am trying a heritage radish variety which originated in the 1890’s ‘Scarlet Globe‘ which I bought from www.irishseedsavers.ie in Scarriff, Co. Clare.

Each week from now to October, I will make a sowing of a couple of dozen radish seeds in a vacant window box each week. In about 5 weeks, the seed I sowed today will have become mature radish. Once those radish are harvested that week and their windowbox seedbed is cleared, I can handfork the soil over and sow, with fresh radish seed’ that windowbox anew – and so on week by week. The peppery crunchiness of a freshly harvested radish is impossible to find in a shop bought radish which was probably Dutch grown. One more reason to G.I.Y.  ( Grow It Yourself) and get involved with www.giyireland.com.

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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).

SOWING RADISH AS A CATCH CROP WITH ANTI-SLUG DEFENCES – SECOND WEEK IN JULY 2010

My 8 courgette plants are growing, but not as fast as I expected which leaves some areas of bare soil. Nature does not ‘do’ bare soil unless we’re talking earthquake aftermath or mudslides. I’ll have a go at sowing a few radish seeds to use this vacant space but the slug threat needs a response.

Recently I got a present of a role of copper tape which the packet claims will halt advancing slugs and snails. (Thanks Zoe.) Like Sellotape it needs a pot or something rigid to stick on to. Laying it in the soil would not be very effective I’d say. So what I need is the proverbial ring of steel. The next best thing I have in the shed is a riddle, but placed up-side-down on the soil it becomes a ‘ring of steel’ with a wire netting across its top.

I wrapped the copper tape around the edge of the riddle, sowed the seed and covered the round patch of seed-bed with the copper clad ring of steel. Little did I realise the first wrecker to arrive was not a slug but Arthur the cat as the picture  shows. Thankfully, he soon got bored with the novel high-security seed bed and moved on to let the sun warm the newly sown radish.

The variety I sowed are an heirloom variety which are for sale on the Irish Seed Saver website. Called German Beer or Beer Garden, they are a white radish, which I’m told can grow as big as a small turnip. Time will tell.

APPRECIATING THE ROLE WEEDS PLAY AND TRYING TO SEE WEEDING AS A SORT OF THERAPY – FOURTH WEEK IN MAY 2010

I have just finished making a DVD (with friends from Glasnevin, Balbriggan and Lusk Tidy Towns Association,)  called ‘The Wildflowers of Fingal’. As a result I have a new perspective on what we gardeners call ‘weeds’. The dandelion flower for example is an important food source for bees. Humans need bees not just for honey but more critically to pollinate many of our food plants, whether courgette and tomato flowers or clover which in turn creates meat and dairy products.

So it is good to know weeds are doing some good next time someone casts a disapproving look at your ‘wilderness’. Mind you I do like a fairly tidy garden so I can see what I need to see growing and so I can reach plants, water them and pick crops as they ripen. So I weed as necessary.

It is good to hear some agricultural advisors speak well of some deep-rooted weeds. Plants such as dock and dandelion take up  and make available again nutrients which have been washed down out of reach of shallow rooting grasses and clovers etc. Dr Charles Merfield, Organic Agriculture Research Scientist when he worked in Johnstown Castle for Teagasc spoke in detail about the biological feed back systems at work in fertile soil. Roots excrete  what soil needs to make food for roots. So while weeds may be a problem in one way, in another they are helping maintain a healthy soil for the plants you actually want to grow strong, tall and tasty.

Not so tall but very tasty are the radishes which I have begun to sample this week. The crisp bite and peppery flavour is undoubtably best when picked , washed and eaten fresh from fertile soil. However if I had let the weeds go unchecked, I may not have seen these new season radishes.

While I will not panic if I see a few weeds, I am geared up to keep the kitchen garden manageable and as tidy as it needs to be. I have between now and the 10th June 2010 to put my words into practice and I invite you to come then and see if I have succeeded or not.

ON THURSDAY 10th JUNE AT 7pm, THE GROW IT YOURSELF NAUL GROUP AND SOME GIY-ers FROM SWORDS AND DUBLIN  ALONG WITH NEIGHBOURS ARE DROPPING IN TO SEE THE GARDEN. I’LL BE TAKING BETS ON THE NUMBER OF VISITORS WHO SAY ‘IT IS SMALLER THAN IT LOOKS ON THE U-TUBE VIDEO CLIPS’! IF I HAVE ENOUGH CUPS YOU ARE WELCOME TO A CUP OF ‘REAL TEA’ (AS PEOPLE SAY) OR SAMPLE AN AROMATIC BREW MADE FROM FRESH PEPPERMINT WHICH IS GROWING PROFUSELY  UNDER THE APPLE TREE BETTER THAN ANY WEED I KNOW RIGHT NOW!  CALL THE CONSTITUENCY OFFICE IN SWORDS ON (01) 89 00 360 FOR MORE DETAILS AND DIRECTIONS.

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!

Planting Radishes

2 February 2009

Weather: today was bitterly cold with a chilling north-easterly wind bringing sleet and snow.

Today Trevor plants some radish seeds in a planter. Radishes are easy to grow and provide a delicious early vegetable. By planting several containers a week apart, Trevor makes sure to have a ready supply of fresh radishes throughout the growing season.

What you need:

  • Planter or other suitable container. This will be stored indoors for the first few weeks.
  • Seeds – Trevor only uses certified organic seeds but radish seed is widely available in garden centres
  • Soil – Trevor uses soil from the plot where he grew cabbages last season
  • Compost
  • Shovel or trowel

Make sure the planter is clean before you fill it. Then fill it to within a couple of inches of the top with the soil. Sow the seeds thinly (i.e. well spread out) on top of the soil and cover with a thin layer of compost (or more soil if you don’t have compost). Then place the planter in a well lit location protected from frost. Trevor placed his planter indoors, just inside his patio doors. When the weather gets a bit better, he will move the planter outdoors.

Next week, and for each of the following four weeks, he will start another planter of radishes. That way, he will have a continuous supply of fresh radishes throughout the season.

For more information on growing and cooking radishes, take a look at this article on Garden.ie