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Organic Issues

  • Visit to Livos (What I did for my Holidays)

    We have been stocking the Livos range of non toxic paints and wood treatments for some years now. As far as we know, Livos are the world’s first manufacturer of natural paints. The company was born in 1974 when a group of hippyish scientists and technicians began researching the use of plant compounds (phytochemicals) to create high quality paints and wood treatments which are as safe and clean as possible. Last week I visited the factory in Germany to learn more about some of the products, how they are produced and their ingredients. The word 'factory'
  • The Dangers Neonicotinoid Insecticides hold for our bees and other wildlife

    Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine (The name literally means “new nicotine-like insecticides) Neonicotinoids – first introduced in the mid-1990s – are the fastest growing and most heavily used class of insecticide, and account for roughly 25% of the global agrochemical market. They have become increasingly popular as insects (especially aphids) have developed resistance to other insecticides. How do neonicotinoids work? Neonicotinoids are designed to target the insects nervous system  causing havoc with the
  • 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
  • 2018 Organic Seed Potato Catalogue

    Potato season is here! View and download the PDF of our 2018 Catalogue of Organic Seed Potatoes  by clicking on the link below. Fruit Hill Farm organic seed potato brochure 2018 We now have an even larger selection of Blight resistant varieties along with some interesting gourmet varieties for those of you that want something a bit different. View the full selection available on our online store   var
  • Winter Green Manures

    Green manures, also referred to as fertility building crops, are crops used to improve the condition of the soil in some way during times when there would be no other plants in the ground. They are typically dug back into the soil before the following crop to allow it to benefit from the nutrients released. A wide range of plant species can be used as green manures with different ones providing different benefits. To get the best from a green manure crop, its cultivation should be taken as seriously as any other crop and integrated thoughtfully into the crop
  • Organic Bulbs

    We don't eat daffodils or tulips so why does it matter if they are organic or not?  Conventionally produced flower bulbs are one of the most polluted crops in horticulture and are heavily sprayed with Neonicotinoids; so cultivating flower bulbs in an environmentally friendly manner can have a big impact. Organic Bulbs vs. Conventional Bulbs: Organic bulbs are not treated with systemic insecticides (Neonicotinoids) which are proven to harm bees and other pollinators. Organic bulbs are grown by farmers who create healthy ecosystems; this helps fish, birds,
  • Carrot Root Fly

      The carrot root fly (Psila rosae), pictured below looking like butter wouldn't melt in it's mouth, is responsible for much grief amongst home gardeners and commercial growers alike. It is partial to dining on a number of vegetables in the Apiaceae, or carrot, family of plants. It can affect parsnip, parsley, celery and celeriac but is most notorious for reducing your carrot crop to an inedible mess. Carrot fly is a small black-bodied fly which lays its eggs beside victim crops. The larvae then hatch out and feed on the roots as they burrow into them. Sometimes
  • Gooseberry Sawfly

    Sawfly larvae Gooseberry sawflies lay eggs on your gooseberry plants. When the caterpillars hatch out they can devastate the plant leaves so that you end up with a bush that looks like this - Gooseberry sawfly damage They also attack red and white currant bushes. The fly arrives anytime from April onward. The female sawflies lay eggs on the underside of leaves, low down in the center of the bush, so the young larvae go unnoticed until they have eaten their way upwards and outwards, devouring the leaves as they go -  often defoliating a bush completely. They can
  • 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
  • How to be a better Gardener

    Plant native trees and shrubs - they support more wildlife. Have a variety of heights - much more bird friendly. Chose 'open' flowers that are easily accessible to bees . Think before you use a petrol machine - does the grass really need cutting? Do I need a chain saw for that branch? Consider alternatives: push mower, scythe, saw, loppers. Do not rush to tidy up in autumn. Dead flower heads often provide homes for overwintering friends. Use green manures. They improve the soil as well as providing colour and interest eg. Phacelia, Clovers, Buckwheat. Bees love

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