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Seasonal

  • Winter solstice and Yuletide

    Bantry Bay at sunset on the shortest day 2017. The Winter Solstice on the 21st December is the shortest day of the year- the earth’s axis is tilted farthest from the sun and, therefore, is also the longest night. In terms of daylight, the day is 8 hours, 22 minutes shorter than on the Summer Solstice.  Here in Bantry the sun will rise at 8.41am and set at 16.29pm – 7 hrs and 40 minutes of daylight. Day length and plants Measuring the time of year is not just important for plants to be able to schedule flowering, but also so they know when to produce storage
  • 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
  • Seeds for Autumn Sowing Outdoors

    There's no good way to say this...but, Summer is waning. With the changing season (and temperatures!) we can turn our minds to what seeds we can sow that can cope with the lower levels of light and lower temperatures that the coming seasons will bring. Ideally seeds sown now should be grown in a polytunnnel or with a protective cloche outside, but the following seeds cope well with lower temperatures & light levels and can still be sown directly outdoors. If we have a mild enough September / October, these will grow within 8-10 weeks. SALADS Cornsalad - Has a
  • 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
  • How to Grow Christmas Potatoes

    It does seem a little early to be talking about Christmas, but if you want to have new potatoes for Christmas dinner this is what you do: What to plant You need cold treated seed – the cold breaks the dormancy cycle and spurs the potato into growth again. By using your own homegrown seed potatoes, or those from an organic grower, you can ensure they will not be treated with any chemical to prevent budding.   Early varieties are best as they have the shortest growing cycle. You can carry out your own cold treatment on the seed potatoes by putting them in a paper bag
  • Summer solstice and plants

    June 21st is the longest day of the year here in West Cork and the rest of Ireland.  If there are no clouds then we should get about 17 hours of daylight (woohoo!) with the sun rising at about quarter past five and setting just before ten. In terms of daylight, this day is 8 hours, 22 minutes longer than on December Solstice. This is due to the earth's axis and rotation. Instead of being straight up and down, the earth is actually tilted about 23 degrees. So as the earth rotates on its axis, parts of the world are tilted either closer towards the sun or farther away
  • April Seasonal Table - Asparagus

    Asparagus is such a treat and can mark the beginning of Spring for many. It is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Folic Acid. Asparagus has a long history - legend has it that in ancient Egypt it was so revered that it was offered up to gods during rituals. How to Grow Asparagus Select and prepare your asparagus bed with care – you should expect a 20 year life span so it’s well worth putting the effort in at the beginning! Do not replant an old asparagus bed with new asparagus plants - use fresh ground to avoid build-up of diseases. Prior to planting,
  • 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,
  • The Hungry Gap - What it is and How to fill it

    The Hungry Gap is the in-between-seasons period after winter vegetables but before the availability of early spring crops - normally April to June. Of course we can now go to the shop and buy whatever our hearts desire but in the past this would have been a time of want and hardship. The hungry gap reminds us of the seasonality of fruit and veg. While no-body should go hungry, I think we should all stand back and question the logic of strawberries at Christmas or peas in April. How to fill the Hungry Gap Careful planning and storing, in theory, means that you will

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