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Small & Starter Growers

  • How to grow first early potatoes

    First early potatoes are a real treat - that melting, buttery texture; the lovely fresh taste - the surprise of the white potato from the brown earth ......  I could go on - but won't.  Instead lets learn how to grow these early treasures. Potato Timeline Earlies:   Earlies or new potatoes have the quickest maturity time and are ready 15 - 16 weeks after planting. If you have a polytunnel or greenhouse then you can plant them in December or January and have very early potatoes on the table in March and April - depending on the weather.  They have a lower yield
  • Seed Saving Basics

    Often considered a practice of the more geekier strain of gardener, saving seeds (of certain plants) is, however, easy and accessible to anyone. Why bother though? There are many far reaching reasons why small scale seed saving is important. In particular, the large scale loss of genetic diversity brought about by narrow breeding for commercial varieties and massive consolidation within the seed industry are a serious threat to food security and sustainable agriculture. These concerns are highlighted well by the organisations linked below. However, there are
  • 5 things to do in Autumn to Prepare your Garden for Winter and Spring

    1. Clean Up There’s more to a tidy up in the garden than just making it look neat and tidy – old plants can harbour diseases and pests so it’s wise to remove and dispose of any spent or rotting plants from your plot. You can also bury any disease and pest free spent plants into the ground which will improve soil quality by adding organic matter to it. Dig up any weeds that appeared over the summer and make sure to dispose of them completely – they will likely take root again if you simply move them elsewhere or put them onto the compost heap. 2. Prepare your
  • Farmers Markets & Honesty Boxes for Seasonal Gluts

    It's that time of year again when you may find yourself with a glut of produce - be it tomatoes, cucumbers, apples potatoes or something else - there's only so much preserving you can do at home - so it's worth considering setting up a stall at your local farmers market or even a simple honesty box so your neighbours or passers by can buy some of your extra produce off you. Farmers Markets Some farmers markets, like the Bantry market close to us here at Fruit Hill Farm, have been going on for as long as people can remember, whilst many are relatively new. With such a
  • Rye Bother?

    The terms ‘Rye’ and ‘Ryegrass’ can be confusing. They both refer to plants which belong to the grasses (Poaceae family) and their uses overlap. However, they are not the same species. Rye (Secale cereale) is a cereal grain closely related to wheat and barley. It is grown for grain that produces deep flavourful breads but also as a forage and cover crop. On the other hand, ryegrasses (Lolium spp.) are used primarily as high quality forage and fodder grasses as well as catch crops - perennial ryegrass is what you mostly see when gazing wistfully out over the
  • Is it cheaper to grow your own organic vegetables?

    We can all agree that growing your own vegetables has many advantages.  Nothing compares to home-grown for taste; growing your own means that your vegetables are very fresh, full of nutrients and taste delicious.  Then there’s the satisfaction – that sense of achievement that comes with picking your first tomato, or better still, when serve your first salad to a group of admiring friends!  Growing your own opens a whole new world to you and your family.  Children learn where vegetables come from and are generally more enthusiastic about trying them.  It creates
  • Ladybirds in the garden - the benefits they bring and how to identify them

    Ladybirds (or ladybugs if you prefer) tend to be more prominent after a spell of hot weather like we have just had, and we have noticed that we are fortunate enough to have some in our garden. If you are not familiar with Ladybirds larva you may be inclined to think that it is a pest that you should think about getting rid of.  However having ladybirds in your garden is of great benefit to any organic gardener as they help to eliminate destructive pests like aphids, mites and scale insects. How to identify Ladybird Eggs The female ladybird will lay 10-50 eggs on a
  • Caring for your Knees when gardening

    The knee is the largest joint in the human body. It is a hinge-like joint that is subject to constant pounding, bending, and twisting from everyday activities, as well as the impact of falls and the effects of arthritis. Since the knee supports nearly the entire weight of the body and has high joint mobility, it is one of the most susceptible to injuries. Knee Joint Housemaids/Gardeners Knee is the most common form of knee bursitis and is caused by the inflammation (swelling) of the Prepatellar Bursa which sits in front of the knee cap. Prolonged or repetitive
  • Blight Resistant Potatoes

    Of the many pests and disease effecting potato crops, late-blight remains the most destructive by far. Traditionally, blight has been kept at bay by chemical control. Teagasc estimate that around €5 million is spent on fungicides annually to prevent blight in Ireland alone. This is dished out over 15-20 applications per season – a worrying amount. Unfortunately, this historical dependence on fungicides meant that a narrow range of potato varieties with little or no blight resistance could be grown successfully. As a result, not much effort was made to breed
  • Guide to Growing Potatoes for Beginners - 6 Tips for Success

    What could be nicer than digging your own early potatoes out of the home garden? Potatoes are a relatively easy crop to grow, but here are 6 top tips to increase the chance of success. Chit before planting to give the plants a head start when planting. To chit/sprout leave the seed potatoes in trays with their eyes up in a light cool, frost free room. (Read more about chitting potatoes HERE) Fertilize soil well to achieve a good yield and quality. Potatoes need enough Nitrogen to produce good stalks and leaves, Phosphorus for good root growth and Potash for yield,

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