Posts Tagged ‘rhubarb’

RESCUING THE RHUBARB PATCH BEFORE MANURING – 2nd wk in January 2015

Our idealistic first year here in Tacumshin, Co. Wexford saw us plant 18 rhubarb stools. We had great hopes that the large characteristic rhubarb leaves would block out light and keep competing weed growth under control. How wrong we were! For a start, the wind here near the coast flapped the rhubarb around so much that it did not thrive.

Having been taught a lesson by nature, we erected an artificial wind break. In due course, trees and hedging will create natural shelter, we hope. As you can imagine, the weeds grew very happily in the rhubarb patch. Weeding the patch was a delicate matter as we had to avoid damaging the hidden buds on the rhubarb stools. So we chose to simply rip up the weed growth with our gloved hands, no trowels or hoes this time around.

Anyway, the patch is now recognisable as a rhubarb patch again. We have spread some well-rotted manure between the rhubarb stools. We may further mulch between the plants with thick straw or plastic. Vigilance

Áine taking a breather from hand weeding the rhubarb patch, while Stocaí Bána observes proceedings from the wheelbarrow.

Áine taking a breather from hand weeding the rhubarb patch, while Stocaí Bána observes proceedings from the wheelbarrow.

seems to be the name of the game in keeping weeds under control.

VISIT TO COLÁISTE DÚLAIGH, KILBARRACK, DUBLIN, GIVES HOPE FOR THE FUTURE – 4th wk in Feb 2013

Took a train to Howth Junction the other day at the invitation of the Fetac 4 and Fetac 5 horticultural students in Coláiste Dúlaigh in nearby Kilbarrack. Was shown around the growing areas outside and inside. A recycled polytunnel has the plastic buried in the soil at each side. The rainwater keeps the borders immediately outside the borders well watered. The students have planted rhubarb crowns along the edges of the polytunnel outside to take advantage of the rain running off the sides of the polytunnel.

The focus of the course is two-fold. First, learning to grow plants well, especially food. Secondly, growing to make a few bob, and maybe even a job in due course. Last autumn, students were encouraged to buy bulbs and plant them in attractive containers. These are now growing in to attractive displays, adding value to a product, which can hopefully be sold as colourful and aromatic presents for the customers.

A number of the students have bought the book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’  in bookshops or from www.orpenpress.com. I look forward to keeping in touch.

Horticultural Tutor, Des Farrell, at Coláiste Dúlaigh's potting shed, Kilbarrack, beside the heated seedbed bringing on pepper and tomato seeds.

Horticultural Tutor, Des Farrell, at Coláiste Dúlaigh’s potting shed, Kilbarrack, North Dublin, beside the heated seedbed bringing on pepper and tomato seeds.

PARALLELS BETWEEN IRISH RUGBY TEAM & HUNGRY GAP IN THE KITCHEN GARDEN – 3rd wk in Feb 2013

Murrayfield is unlikely to become allotments for growing fruit and veg anytime soon. That does not mean there are not comparisons between Irish rugby players being good at kicking and crops being ripe for picking. The older players ripened last summer and autumn in gardening terms, and the younger lads have a little time to go yet before they are fully ripe. For growers of fruit and veg, this conundrum of ‘too old or too young’ is known as the ‘hungry gap’.

In the case of my small garden, the chard is hanging in to give me and guests fine leaves for tasty meals. (See picture.) However the yield is becoming patchier as the plant is past its prime. The garlic cloves planted last November are about 10cm high but will not be ripe until late July this year. Fearing a ‘hungry gap’, I can see that the purple sprouting broccoli and everlasting cabbage are looking good for the next couple of months. However, June and July will be sparse for harvesting anything substantial, apart from rhubarb under the rowan trees and the early spuds now growing in bags inside the sliding door of the breakfast room. Those spuds should be ready to harvest in June.

The bounty of Nature can be useful during the ‘hungry gap’. For example, the spring growth  of stinging nettles makes handy ingredients for delicious soups, steamed as a veg or fried and tossed in spaghetti. (Nettle recipe on p.33 of ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’,  www.orpenpress.com.) Lamb’s lettuce seeds itself each year in the garden and is prolific for the next couple of months. However, the hungry period is a challenge in the garden as the leaves available tend to be small and fiddly requiring more preparation time picking and cooking.

Irish rugby seems to be in a bit of a ‘hungry gap’ too, at the moment. Hopefully a few proverbial ‘green stinging nettles’ can be selected for the next match against the old warm weather loving

Pat O'Mara, Orchard Manager at Seed Savers, Scarriff, Co. Clare, (www.irishseedsavers.ie) cutting chard for dinner while a guest in 'Trevor's Kitchen Garden' before teaching a Sonairte course in fruit pruning up the road in Laytown. (www.sonairte.ie)

Pat O’Mara, Orchard Manager at Seed Savers, Scarriff, Co. Clare, (www.irishseedsavers.ie) cutting chard for dinner while a guest in ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ before teaching a Sonairte course in fruit pruning up the road in Laytown. (www.sonairte.ie)

‘French beans’!