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Grow-How

Regular expert advice from Fruit Hill Farm on organic growing.
  • Managing Weeds Organically

    Weeds are particularly difficult for organic farmers to deal with as chemical herbicides are, of course, strictly prohibited. Broadly speaking, there are four approaches for weed control in an organic situation: Mechanical and manual weeding Flame weeding Mulching Green manures Mechanical & Manual Weeding Dock and Ragwort Digger. Excellent for getting out the long tap-root. This covers any method which physically interrupts any unwanted plant growth. Perhaps the most obvious (and most off-putting) method is the hand pulling of weeds. Physically uprooting
  • Irrigation

    If you have a polytunnel you will know how long it takes to water your produce.  Why not install an irrigation system and free up all that time that you spend watering? Drip Irrigation Perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective way to water your crops is with a drip irrigation system where pipes are laid along the ground and water seeps out of spaced holes directly where your plants need the moisture.  For as little as approx. €85 you could irrigate an 8 mt tunnel.  You can also add to or change the layout of your system whenever you wish. Benefits of drip
  • Square Foot Gardening

    It’s easy to forget here in spacious West Cork that not everybody has the luxury of a big garden to grow vegetables in. Square foot gardening is a method for helping those with smaller gardens to maximise their space. In square foot gardening, the growing area (typically a raised bed) is marked out into smaller square sections. This helps to plan and create a well planted and neat vegetable garden in minimal space. Generally, a bed is divided into a grid of 12” sided squares. So for example a 3’ by 3’ raised bed could be divided into 9 squares and a 3’ by
  • Raised Beds

    A raised garden bed is a mound of soil raised above ground level and contained by a frame that is used for growing herbs and vegetables. Raised beds can be made from timber, stone, logs or bricks. They are different from container gardening in that they do not have a base and cannot be moved. Advantages Earlier cropping as the soil is warmer. Improved drainage. Plants are more accessible and maintenance is easier. Easier to plan and manage a rotation system. Greater yield as crops are closer together. Soil can be tailored to specific crops. Soil is not compacted as
  • All About Onions

    The onion plant has been grown and selectively bred in cultivation for at least 7,000 years. Onions are part of the allium family - along with shallots, garlic and leeks. Onion Sets Onion sets are available as white or red for spring planting and as white onions for autumn planting. (Onion Sets are grown by sowing onion seed thickly late in the summer. The plants are allowed to grow just until they start forming bulbs. These immature bulbs are dug, cured like regular onions, then held in temperature-controlled warehouses until spring, when they are sold as onion sets).
  • Crop Rotation

      January is a good time to think about your crop rotation and what quantities you will be growing.  What was a success last year, what did you have a glut off – and what did no one like?  (Bridget - what is wrong with courgettes?) Taking photos throughout the year is a good idea too as it is so easy to forget what everything looked like on a dark January day! What is Crop Rotation? Crop Rotation is the practice of growing specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the vegetable plot each year. This helps to reduce a build-up of crop-specific pest
  • What does Organic mean?

    Organic food is food produced by methods that comply with the Standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming in general features practices that strive to cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organic Growers do not use any chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides on the crops they grow.  Neither do they use Genetically Modified seed. The emphasis is on working with nature to produce a healthy soil environment through the addition of natural inputs (for example seaweed) and green manures.
  • Propagation

    If you want to get you seeds off to an early start you will need to create a nice warm and protected environment.  There are 4 ways of doing this - soil warming cable, heated propagator, heating mat, hot press. Soil warming cable   Soil warming cable. Early propagation requires a consistent soil temperature of 12ºC to 16ºC. Germination and root development are very slow below these temperature levels. If you have a large area to heat up then a soil warming cable is ideal.  The cables are ready to use and can be plugged into a thermostat for complete temperature
  • How to grow Potatoes

    What to plant Earlies:   Very good if you only have a small area. As they are lifted earlier, they are less likely to encounter problems such as wireworms, slugs and blight. Earlies are ready 15 - 16 weeks after planting in March onward.  Only plant when the conditions are right - be patient! Second Earlies:   Second Earlies take 16-17 weeks to mature after planting in April Maincrops:   Maincrops take 18-20 weeks to mature after planting in mid-April onwards. These take up the most space in the garden, but they are the best varieties to store.  They also
  • What are Green Manures?

    Green Manures, also referred to as fertility building crops, may be broadly defined as crops grown for the benefit of the soil. A wide range of plant species can be used as green manures. Different ones bring different benefits. If the most is to be made from green manure crops it is important that they are carefully integrated into the crop rotation and proper attention paid to their cultivation. Advantages -  Increased biological activity  Improved soil structure and drainage  Reduced erosion and leaching  Increased supply of nutrients available to plants

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