Posts Tagged ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden book’

SOWING ‘GREEN MANURE’ CROPS IN POLYTUNNEL ON BARE SOIL – 4th wk in February 2015

I recall writing in some detail about suitable times to grow various ‘green manure’ crops in the book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ ( pp. 195 – 9). Now I realise, after working with organic guru, Jim Cronin in Co. Clare, that sowing these soil improving crops can be an almost weekly occurrence. This applies

Bowl of 'green manure' rye seeds ready for broadcast sowing by hand along vacant veg bed in polytunnel

Bowl of ‘green manure’ rye seeds ready for broadcast sowing by hand  along vacant veg beds in polytunnel

especially when growing in polytunnels where soil temperatures are generally higher than outside.

Whenever Jim has cleared a patch of soil, a green manure is sown, even if the patch will be required to plant vegetable seedlings in a fortnight’s time. If one sees bare soil – scatter a few seeds of rye or phacelia or red clover. This is a good rule of thumb which lies at the heart of maintaining good microbial life in well managed soil.

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ANTICIPATING A GOOD APPLE HARVEST AT GIY FAMILY DAY IN WATERFORD – 2nd wk in June 2014

Thanks to Micháel Ó Cadhla and the Grow It Yourself (GIY) organisation for inviting Áine and myself to the GIY Family Fun Day at the Athenaeum House Hotel on the outskirts of Waterford city held on Sunday 8th June. Workshops on growing food and various crafts were on display. We were asked to do a demo about apples and juicing. In my book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’

Giving a workshop at the GIY Family Fun Day in Waterford about storing apples by freezing the juice.

Giving a workshop at the GIY Family Fun Day in Waterford about storing apples by freezing the juice.

(in a revised edition in the bookshops or from http://www.orpenpress.com), the apple juicing tips are in the 2nd week of August chapter. However, this June  event was a useful opportunity to talk about growing apple trees, caring for them and how to handle the harvest which is developing quite well so far.

After a spell of dry weather, be sure to give any spare water from the kitchen or bathroom to your apple trees. For example, water left after washing dishes at home is generally thrown around the base of our fruit trees. Drought can cause undeveloped fruit to drop, whereas proper watering can swell the developing fruit.

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.

GOOD TIME TO ORGANISE OLD SEED PACKETS BEFORE BUYING MORE – 3rd wk in January 2014

Young horticulturalists, Alan and Ailish Neville, from Curracloe, sorting seed packets by varieties and 'sow by' dates.

Young horticulturalists, Alan and Ailis Neville, from Curracloe, sorting seed packets by varieties and ‘sow by’ dates.

Having moved from an urban garden to a field scale small-holding means that the organising of seeds will have to be up-scaled accordingly. My collection of partially used packets of seeds in some cases have use by dates going back to 2008! Áine’s collection of seed packets from growing in Curracloe is far more modern! I don’t hold out much hope for my older seed packets now after the move.  The seeds have not been stored temporarily in the most ideal of conditions.

In Balbriggan, the partially used seed packets were stored in sealed plastic containers in the fridge. (See the book ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ pp. 333 – 336). In Tacumshin , we’d want a very big fridge to continue that practise! The best storage option for the larger number of seeds needed for 3 acres is, I think, large heavy duty sealed boxes, like tool boxes. These must also be rat proof as the seed boxes are likely to be stored in a dry cool shed. We thought about storing the seeds in the attic, but in the summer that space could become quite warm during the day.

Any suggestions of good ways to store a large variety of seed packets welcome. Please feel free to comment by replying to this post. I promise to acknowledge and look forward to hearing from you. Now to order the many varieties of fruit and veg seeds in the organic seed catalogues – now that we have more space to grow them.

IF YOU SEE NEVEN MAGUIRE AT BLOOM, ASK HIM ABOUT GROWING MICRO-GREENS! – 3rd wk in May 2013

Top chefs like Neven Maguire are setting new trends again. This time they are growing and serving very young seedling plants and sprouted seeds. This is what many people call ‘micro-greens’.

GIY Ireland fan, Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz have written a book called ‘The Speedy Vegetable Gardener’ (Timber Press) in which they enthuse about micro-greens. These speedy gardeners tell us that,  ‘ As well as being the speediest possible route to leafy greens, micro greens are flavour bombshells. Added to salads of larger leaves they impart zing and liveliness, but they can also be used as a salad in themselves or as a flavouring – they bring a punch of vibrant taste to whatever they are added to.

Micro greens are just tiny seedlings of plants we usually harvest when they are more fully grown. They are sown into compost and grown in light like any normal seedling, but harvested just a week or so after germination when they’ve produced their first pair of leaves.

The plants that work best as micro greens are those with intense flavour and/or colour. Coriander, basil, fennel, radish and the oriental leaves are all great to try. At micro stage they contain the essence of their fully grown selves, only more concentrated, so you get a burst of flavour, stronger and often cleaner than it would be if you left the plant to grow to maturity’.

Áine and myself visited Neven Maguire in County Cavan,  at his famous Blacklion restaurant, McNean House, recently. Also impressive, but a little less famous, is Neven’s kitchen garden. With help from Hans & Gaby Wieland and

Neven's secret to great flavours, home-grown micro-greens sown in guttering in the polytunnel.

Neven’s secret to great flavours, home-grown micro-greens sown in guttering in the polytunnel.

 The Organic Centre nearby in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, Neven, Amelda and their team are growing all manner of fresh veg and herbs in polytunnels, including micro – greens. You can read more about Neven’s growing techniques in his interview on pages 154 – 155 in (yes you’ve guessed it!) ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ (www.orpenpress.com).

ALLOTMENTS CAN BE A TOURIST ATTRACTION EVEN IN WINTER – 2nd wk in Jan ’13

As the allotments here in Balbriggan, on the Dublin – Meath border start to take shape, I and many locals are curious to see other allotments wherever we go. With the new edition of ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ now in British bookshops, a little promotional trip to Bath seemed like a good excuse to see a beautiful part of England and meet some local kitchen gardeners there.

Walking around Bath (in the rain!) this historic spa town’s architecture in any weather is impressive. What was even more impressive is the central location of the allotments. The equivalent location in Dublin would be like having allotments in Merrion Square or in Stephen’s Green. Within yards of park benches were all shapes and sizes of compost tumblers, cones and more handmade compost containers. Cabbages, chard, leeks and parsnips were ready for harvest. I imagined them as steaming ingredients in a hot-pot to warm the cockles beside a roaring fireplace in the nearby Marlborough Tavern.

If the place looked this good on a rainy Monday morning in January

Bath's city centre allotments, a sign of a trusting, friendly community, looking after its health and helping to make the future sustainable.

Bath’s city centre allotments, a sign of a trusting, friendly community, looking after its health and helping to make the future sustainable.

, imagine how stunning it would look when the runner beans are in flower, the sunflowers are reaching for the sky and the first outdoor early potatoes are being dug in June. I’ll be back … to see how ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ is selling there … of course!