Posts Tagged ‘Co. Wexford’

INSULATE BEE HIVES TO IMPROVE SURVIVAL CHANCES IN COLD WEATHER – 4th wk in January 2015

The South Wexford Beekeepers (www.southwexfordbees.org) organise very informative talks on the first Thursday of the month in the Teagasc offices near Johnstown Castle just outside Wexford town. Recently the very experienced beekeeper, John Morgan, gave an excellent talk and demonstration of what to do in the apiary this time of year. In short the answer is ‘not much’. However, I picked up a few tips like – check the bee access in not blocked – feed with fondant – watch out for robbing and close up any dead hive to prevent this – plant bee-friendly trees and shrubs and construct and repair frames, supers, brood boxes etc to catch swarms in the coming summer.

John made me think anew about bees and cold weather. I had heard that bees don’t mind cold, it is wet that kills them. However, John mentioned insulating the hives with cardboard under the roof and below the mesh floor. This makes sense. A little like us putting on an extra jumper instead of working to generate heat. Life is tough enough for the bees without making them work harder in the hive to stay warm and use up valuable stores of honey in the process. So out I went the day after the talk at lunchtime ( the warmest part of the day) and put a couple of squares of cardboard under the roof and under the mesh floor. I’ll remove this insulation when the temperature rises above 10 degrees c. and the bees and out foraging, perhaps in March.

It is on frosty mornings like this that the bees will appreciate the brood box insulation. Wait for a mild day to insert the insulation, however.

It is on frosty mornings like this that the bees will appreciate the brood box insulation. Wait for a mild day to insert the insulation, however.

 

HEN HOUSE TIED DOWN IN ADVANCE OF WINTER STORMS – 2nd wk in October 2014

The storms of last winter were a terrifying wake up call demonstrating the destructive power of the windiest weather on record in south Wexford. We needed to try designing a climate-change proof hen house, if such a thing is possible!

Hens are by nature tree roosters, so perches are needed, which means the hen-house has to have some height. This could be bad news on a windy site.

Three aspects of our new hen house are designed to ensure it is stable in a storm:

1. The legs are splayed, not unlike the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on a smaller scale of course!

2. The legs are screwed to wooden fence posts driven 1 metre down into the ground.

3. Each corner is held in position by a guy rope tightly tied to anchor posts and metal hooks in the wall of the old piggery, on the boundary of the hen run.

The hens are due to take up residence

The hens will roost in the 'attic' of this hen house. The nest box is just visible at the back facing the old piggery wall.

The hens will roost in the ‘attic’ of this hen house. The nest box is just visible at the back facing the old piggery wall.

in the new year. Having our own organic eggs will make all this work and weather proofing worthwhile, hopefully!

KEEP AN EYE ON SOIL TEMPERATURE BEFORE DECIDING WHAT TO SOW – 4th wk in Feb 2014

Carne is known for first early potatoes as the soil temperature is a little warmer for early sowing.

Carne is known for first early potatoes as the soil temperature is a little warmer for early sowing.

The experienced gardeners I meet around Ireland tell me that there is a tendency to sow seed too early in the year. The likelihood is that many imported seed packets and gardening literature originates in places where the soil is warmer earlier in spring compared to the NW of Ireland in particular. Taking the soil temperature before planting out seedlings or sowing directly makes sense.

In my book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ (www.orpenpress.com) on pages 103 – 104, you will find a list of vegetables and the soil temperatures which suit their seed germination. Lettuce will start off in a low as 2 c, whereas tomato, courgette and pepper need atleast 13 c.

The potato likes about 10 c in the soil. However as a tuber, it is more robust than the tiny seeds used to grow most vegetables. The warmer the soil early in the year, the quicker the growth begins. Living as we do in Tacumshin, we are near Carne in the south eastern corner of Ireland. The soil temperature is generally about 1 c  warmer in the early part of the year compared to other parts of the country. However the wetness of the ground held up potato sowing this year as much as soil temperature.

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.

TRUSTY GREENHOUSE TRAVELS TO TACUMSHIN TO FEED US OVER FIRST WINTER – 4th Wk in September 2013

Where do you start with three overgrown acres in Tacumshin, near Carnsore Point, Co Wexford. All around us is the home of early potatoes and rare migrant birds? A birdwatcher’s paradise.  As mentioned last week, moving from Balbriggan was not easy. Carrying a greenhouse to which I have become sentimentally attached, did not make it any easier! However it was a 50th birthday present from my Fingal Green friends and I would miss the greenhouse, as I will miss them too. However, my friends may be more inclined to visit IF ‘their’ greenhouse is here in Wexford to greet them!

Thanks to Eoin Hurley, the disassembly and assembly of the glass and metal structure was very efficiently carried out. Eoin bought cement at Maguire’s Builders’ Provider Store in Rosslare Harbour to secure

The Balbriggan greenhouse Tacumshin, Co Wexford. Step 1 in making a meadow into a kitchen garden.

The Balbriggan greenhouse Tacumshin, Co Wexford. Step 1 in making a meadow into a kitchen garden.

the greenhouse legs in place. The greenhouse is now ready to grow our winter greens and nurture early sowings of peas in pots etc for planting out next spring. Cuttings of hedging like box and herbs like curry plant are also cossetted under glass, until they root. The greenhouse is like a little Fingal embassy in the heart of County Wexford, and like me, it has been made very welcome!

Next week, the lay out of the outside vegetable beds will start to take shape. At present, we are waiting for a delivery of horse manure from stables nearby in Killinick. After that let the barrowing of numerous loads begin!

GOOD TIME TO PLANT EARLY SPUDS INDOORS – 2nd wk in Feb 2013

Potatoes are sensitive to frost so sowing outdoors will not occur for some weeks yet. However, in a potato bag or large bucket indoors, early potato seed can be sown now. I sow the seed  in potato growing bags, having chitted them in an egg box on the windowsill for a week or two. These bags are then positioned on the floor inside the sliding doors to get maximum light. (see pages 46 – 50 of my book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ www.orpenpress.com . )

If you have the use of a polytunnel or green house, then potato seed can be sown there now too. Áine and myself sowed a few rows of ‘Sharpe’s Express’ seeds in Áine’s polytunnel in Curracloe, Co. Wexford in the last couple of days. I first dug the trenches about a metre apart, lined the bottom of each with fresh seaweed, and spaced the seed potatoes about half a metre apart, before covering with soil and watering. Potatoes are hungry and like good fertility, so I always mix in well rotted manure, compost or seaweed before sowing.

The lovely Áine Neville sowing 'Sharpe's Express' in her Curracloe polytunnel in sandy loam trenches on a bed of seaweed.

The lovely Áine Neville sowing ‘Sharpe’s Express’ in her CWP Curracloe polytunnel in sandy loam trenches on a bed of seaweed.

It can be tempting to space seed potato in a small space too closely, but this can be a false economy. Potato plants need good air circulation for healthy growth. Well spaced potato plants yield a better crop too of larger potatoes, which makes harvesting easier. These early spuds should be ready for harvest by early June, well before the blight season, which means no need to spray against blight to protect this early crop.

‘Sharpe’s Express’ is a favourite early in Ireland for good reason. It is unusual amongst ‘earlies’ in that it is a floury potato with a high dry matter content. Before harvest it produces attractive purple flowers. It is best steamed rather than boiled.

The variety was first bred in 1900 by Mr. Charles Sharpe of Sleaford in Lincolnshire, England. This area still produces a large percentage of the commercial horticulture in England, especially potatoes.