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Grow-How

Regular expert advice from Fruit Hill Farm on organic growing.
  • Regenerative Gardening: Looking after the invisible!

    I was fortunate to meet Alex Podolinski in the late 90's at a meeting in Camphill Duffcarrig in Wexford. He is a Biodynamic pioneer and basically the founder of Australian Biodynamic farming as it exists now. He was also one of the first people to recognize that plants have two types of root systems, one for the uptake of water, which supports the transpiration process; and much finer white "hair roots" which are the feeder roots. In artificially fertilized systems the latter are often impaired or even destroyed as most of the nutrients in such a system are supplied in
  • Late early potatoes...it is not too late to plant early potatoes!

    Many of you have delayed planting potatoes due to the cold weather, but fear not, it's not too late to plant early potatoes - you'll just have a later crop of early potatoes! There seems to be a misconception out there that early potatoes have to be planted early and late potatoes later. The "early" and "late" actually refers to the time when they are going to be ready for harvest.  An early variety matures much faster (and will be earlier)  than a late variety (which takes longer to grow and will be later). Early varieties are Vitabella, Casablanca, Colleen,
  • Planting & Growing 'Flavor' Softneck Garlic in Spring

    Flavor Softneck garlic is a an organic Garlic for Spring planting. Flavor Garlic has lovely ivory/pink cloves of fine flavour.  Can be used green in salads or left to mature for cooking.  Wonderful roasted whole in olive oil with new potatoes and rosemary. Choosing a Site and soil for your garlic Choose an open, sunny site and well-drained soil. High humidity around the foliage and wet soils make the crop more prone to disease. Prior to planting, improve the soil’s structure, moisture retention and nutrient levels by incorporating organic matter. Apply about two
  • 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,
  • What are certified seed potatoes?

    Cerified seed potatoes are seed that has been certified for purity and freedom from disease by the Dept of Agriculture.  Each seed crop is inspected to confirm the identity of the variety, to ensure that it meets the minimum level of varietal purity and that it meets certain plant health and pest infection standards. The Irish Department of Agriculture where the first official body in Europe to establish a Seed Potato Certification Scheme in 1918. This ensured variety purity and disease and virus freedom.  You should only buy seed potatoes that are
  • Early Earlies

    Early earlies are a treat to be savoured – and to get them on your plate in April/May you need to make a start now in December/January. Early potatoes have a short growing season – that is they will reach maturity within 10-12 weeks of planting depending on the severity of the weather.  Colleen, Casablanca, Sharpe’s Express or Red Duke of York are all reliable, tasty early varieties. Orla and British Queens (although officially these are second early varieties) can also be planted now for an early crop. Chitting potatoes Chitting is basically another word for
  • Introduction to Pruning

      The country’s trees have taking quiet a bashing this year and many of us are still clearing up damaged and felled trees. We can make the best of it by stocking up the woodshed and plan some winter pruning while we’re at it. With some exceptions, most trees are pruned in winter anyways. This is largely because deciduous plants go dormant in the winter and so less stress is received by the plant. There are other reasons for winter pruning. All the energy of the plant has been drawn in to its roots in the winter. This means the plant will have a large
  • Digging - Best Practice and Tools for the Job

      It is great to see the recent burst of interest and research into no-dig farming methods as a means to preserve and promote the health of our soils. However, it is unlikely we will be downing tools anytime soon in our gardens as mechanically working the soil is by far the quickest way to convert a patch of unused land into a fertile and workable medium for vegetable plants. By cultivating the soil, we can quickly create an ideal loose friable structure by breaking up compaction and a directly adding organic matter such as compost and manure. This provides
  • Growing, Storing and Eating Organic Pumpkins

    The Fruit Hill Farm Guide to Organic Pumpkins - Growing, Storing, Eating and everything else you need to know! What’s not to like about pumpkin.  Easy to grow, fantastic colour, store well, very versatile in the kitchen, very nutritious, edible seeds and can even be used as a Halloween decoration!  That’s a lot of plus points. How to grow Organic Pumpkins Sow organic seeds in mid April in medium sized pots in good quality organic compost. They like a bit of heat to germinate so either put them in the hot-press or in a heated propagator. As soon as they have
  • How to string Onions (and Soft Neck garlic)

    Stringing onions is easy and a great way to store your crop overwinter as you can keep a large number of bulbs in a small space. Hang them in a cool, dry, frost-free place - such as a shed - until you need to bring them into the kitchen. Preparing Bulbs for Stringing Leave your bulbs to dry out thoroughly before you string them, by laying them out and leaving them in the sun for a few days. If it's raining, lay them on trays in a warm, dry place, such as a shed, polytunnel or conservatory. Choose the best quality, ripe bulbs to store - any that are damp and moist should

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