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Grow-How

Regular expert advice from Fruit Hill Farm on organic growing.
  • Practical ways to help the Bees

      In Ireland, there are 98 different species of bee. There is the honeybee (a managed pollinator) 20 bumblebee species and 77 solitary bee species. In 2006 scientists published a Red List of Ireland’s Bees. It showed that one third of our 97 wild bees are threatened with extinction and ufortunately a third of all bee species in Ireland could be extinct by 2030. This problem can’t be solved simply by increasing the number of honeybee hives. Bumblebees make their nests on the surface of the ground or just underneath, often in long grass, bracken, or at the
  • What yield can I expect?

    It's seed sowing time - again - hooray! So time to get the pen and paper out and do some forward planning. Because time and growing space are usually limited it is important to plan not only a proper rotation but also to decide which vegetables are most popular in your family and how many plants will be needed.  Include a bit of surplus in that plan then you can conserve produce for the winter by making Kimchi or Sauerkraut, preserve vegetables and fruit in jars or burying root crops in sand or soil clamps. At Fruit Hill Farm all our vegetable seeds are open pollinated
  • Love your soil - learn about soil conditioners

    Is your soil good - or bad? Does it have a good diet, can it hold its drink?  Could it quite simply just be better – well behaved, good crops, good drainage and structure etc.  Most soils can be improved both in nutrient content and in structure by following good gardening practices.  Soil that is in good heart will be free-draining, easy to dig, have a crumbly texture and a healthy earthworm population. How to improve the condition of your soil Gathering leaves for leaf-mould Add organic matter as a soil conditioner. Compost and strawy animal manures provide
  • Perlite and Vermiculite - what are they?

    We know - it keeps you awake at night - but what is the difference between Perlite and Vermiculite? Perlite Perlite is a naturally occurring, non-toxic volcanic rock.  It is heated to very high temperatures to produce a lightweight micro-porous material. Perlite is used in horticulture as a soil amendment. Because of its high permeability / low water retention it helps to prevent soil compaction. Available in 10ltr and 100ltr bags. A handful of Perlite Perlite is used wholly or partly in place or sand or grit in potting compost where it improves aeration,
  • Klasmann organic compost for reliable results

    Unfortunately, not all composts are created equally and unfortunately you only discover this when you have poor germination.  Valuable time has been lost and there will be no early tomatoes or cabbages.  As with all things in life you get what you pay for - cheap compost=poor results. The only way to get consistent and reliable results is to use a consistent and reliable compost.  In our experience the only compost that delivers consistency, traceability, reliability time after time is Klasmann-Deilmann.  What’s so great about Klasmann? Good strong plugs with
  • Successful Seed Germination

    What do you need for the successful germination of seeds? Heat Seeds will germinate across a wide range of temperatures but as the temperature falls below - or rises above - the optimum range, the length of time it takes for them to germinate increases and the percentage germination rate falls. Long germination times also make the seeds more vulnerable to disease. You can warm up the soil outside by a few degrees if you cover it with ground cover. A soil thermometer will give you an accurate soil temperature figure. A warm day does not mean warm soil. Beware sunny day
  • Using Leafmould as a Soil Conditioner

    Leafmould is made from decaying leaves.  It is an excellent soil conditioner adding organic matter and micro-organisms to the garden.  Leaf mould is quite low in nutrients, which makes it suitable for seed germination as the seedlings develop a strong root system, which will help them remain healthy when threatened with pests and diseases.  If you have enough, leaf mould makes an excellent soil improver. The coarse organic particles help create air spaces, vital to let roots penetrate the soil. Leaf mould also makes a good mulch that aids moisture-retention and
  • 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
  • How to Dry Herbs

    You can dry herbs to make your own herbal teas and to use in cooking throughout the year. It's a relatively simple process and a great way to use up any excess or underused herbs you have growing in the garden.. Harvesting Herbs for drying You can harvest herbs throughout the season, but the best taste is obtained from fresh growth. Herbs grown for their leaves should be harvested before they flower. After they flower, most herbs tend to lose their flavour or become bitter. You also want to pick the leaves when they are tender and contain the highest amount of oil,

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