Posts Tagged ‘black plastic’

WORMS APPRECIATE RAIN PROOFING AND WEED PROOFING OF THE VEG BEDS UNTIL SPRING – 2nd wk in November 2014

Putting the empty veg beds 'to bed' for the winter after manuring the soil and weighing down the black plastic edges with some builders' sand.

Putting the empty veg beds ‘to bed’ for the winter after manuring the soil and weighing down the black plastic edges with some builders’ sand.

Last winter was so wet here in Tacumshin that any digging of soil was impossible from December through to April. Meanwhile the mild temperatures encouraged plenty of scutch, docks and other nuisance weeds to thrive over the winter.

This autumn it is time to experiment with a new strategy. Once the veg harvests are in storage, the vacant veg beds are manured and then covered with black plastic. We use sand on the plastic along the edges of these long veg beds to keep the plastic secure in this windy location. The wetter the sand becomes in the rain, the better it will secure the black plastic sheeting.

Each sheet of black plastic covers about a 3 metre stretch of veg bed. In spring, we will uncover these sections of soil as and when we need them to plant up young veg plants. The soil should be teeming with life in this dark manure rich environment over winter. After planting up, attention to weeding will be critical during the growing season. The addition of organic matter in the soil will hopefully mean less of a need to irrigate. Mind you, the addition of small quantities of building sand which was used to weigh down the black plastic previously will speed up drainage to some extent.

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LIFTING THE ONION CROP WITHOUT BRUISING – 3rd wk in August 2014

A GIY expert told me once to lift onion carefully. It may be useful to imagine they are fragile like eggs. Bruised onions do not store as well as the perfect specimens. Overall our onion crop, which was planted through holes cut in black plastic to suppress weed growth, looks good with the tops wilting to indicate readiness for harvest.

Most of the sets planted were Sturon which are known to be better at storing. WE also grew a red onion called Red Baron which is also ready to be harvested. The early onion sets, Jet Set, sown on March 31st last, are intended to be used first. However, all need to be lifted and dried so they will keep well until required.

Some years ago on a visit to The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, I bought a two-pronged trowel, with a view to deep weeding to exact dock roots and the like. I now discover, this long pronged trowel is perfect for gently easing the onion bulbs out of the ground from below with a prong on either side of the root. As a result we have about 400

My trusty 2-pronged trowel gently lifts the onions without any bruising. Hopefully we can use the black plastic on another plot for next year's crop.

My trusty 2-pronged trowel gently lifts the onions without any bruising. Hopefully we can use the black plastic on another plot for next year’s crop.

well formed onions to store. We go through a fair number of onions as you can imagine – when pickling and cooking needs are considered.

Sadly, it is becoming more and more difficult to find Irish grown onions in the supermarkets. Some years ago, of the onions bought in Ireland, only 15% were Irish grown. Let us grow more and get that percentage up! A good onion to plant this autumn would be a variety called Radar.

ANOTHER DELIVERY OF HORSE MANURE TO MULCH VEG BEDS – 1st wk in January 2014

A welcome sight, the arrival of another load of horse manure, thanks to Dara Ward and the Kellys of Killinick.

A welcome sight, the arrival of another load of horse manure, thanks to Dara Ward and the Kellys of Killinick.

We  are lucky to have found a friendly stable owner who knows a friendly haulier of manure since we moved here to Tacumshin, near Rosslare, in Co. Wexford. The other morning, not long after dawn, Willie Kelly arrived from Killinick by tractor with a large trailer load of horse manure in tow. The last load Willie delivered is not fully used yet but it has become inaccessible by wheelbarrow. The heavy rain in the last month has created a temporary pond between the manure heap and the vegetable bed. It will do no harm for the manure to be left to rot down until such time as the ground dries up anyway.

The latest load of horse manure is located much nearer the new veg patches so no excuse. The veg beds are marked out. As soon as the soil is a bit drier, we’ll be out to turn the sod, mulch with manure and cover the fresh beds with black re-useable plastic sheeting. Meanwhile there is pruning and coppicing to be carried out while the apple, pear  and other trees are bare.

GROWING CARROTS IN A POLYTUNNEL – 2nd week in September 2013

I was surprised to see carrots growing in a polytunnel at The Organic Centre, Co. Leitrim, on a recent visit. Klaus Laitenberger in his excellent book ‘Vegetables for the Polytunnel and Greenhouse’ mentions that growing carrots under cover like this ensures an earlier crop than just growing outdoors. Growing carrots indoors also ensures no carrot root fly attacks.

Klaus, who lives not a million miles from there, says November is when first sowings of early carrots can be made in a polytunnel or greenhouse. However, he prefers to wait until January to start sowing. Before this, he places black plastic on the seedbed for a few weeks to help warm up the soil first. After sowing, Klaus places fleece over the growing crop to protect it from the cold. Another key to success is choosing the most appropriate variety. Klaus recommends Amsterdam Forcing, Buror F1, Napoli F1, Rocket F1 or Ya Ya F1, which

Carrots growing in The Organic Centre under plastic, protected from the carrot root fly.

Carrots growing in The Organic Centre under plastic, protected from the carrot root fly.

is a Nantes type.