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How to..

  • Overwintering Onions and Garlic

    Overwintering Onions Autumn varieties of onions, such as Radar or Troy,  grow slowly over winter to give you a crop of fresh onions the following May or June, just as your stored onions will have started to sprout. It is advisable to follow a crop rotation. Overwintering onions are often called ‘Japanese’ onions (because they were first developed in Japan), these can be sown outside from late September up to early November. The main benefit of growing overwintering onions is that you will have a crop of onions ready for eating about a month before your main crop
  • Bolting

    Bolting refers to when a plant rather rudely decides to enter its flowering stage before we would like it to. Essentially, it has come to the conclusion that it is time to produce seed, and energy previously flowing into leaf growth is diverted to this task. As a result, the leafy part of the plant, which we were more than likely planning on eating, is lost to woody, not so tasty, and sometimes more bitter material. Bolting is essentially a survival mechanism which is triggered for a number of reasons. The factors which contribute to a plants susceptibility to
  • Scythes & Scything

    Like many other traditional tools, a scythe can look like a crude instrument when first viewed. However, in the right hands, it can be a very efficient tool giving much return for the energy expended. Indeed, it’s surprising how much area can be cleared or mown in a short time. Rambling through Youtube scything videos you’ll come across a few ‘man versus machine’ style challenges. On the whole, the scythe favours well - albeit with a user in need of a sit down by the end. It competes especially well with strimmers, clearing open ground quicker but struggling
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Chitting Potatoes

    What does chitting mean? Chitting is basically another word for sprouting. By exposing the seed potato to light and a small bit of warmth you are encouraging growth.  The eyes of the potato will start sprouting - the sprouts should be small, knobbly, and green/purple in colour. If you end up with long, white coloured sprouts, it means there’s not enough light. Why do you chit potatoes? By getting the potato to sprout you have started off the growing process so that the plants will have a head start when you put them in the soil.  In theory you will then get your
  • Cleaning your greenhouse or polytunnel: equipment and methods

    Cleaning the polytunnel and your pots Not the most popular of tasks but one that must be faced to avoid pests and diseases later.  All plant pots, seed trays, propagation trays and tools should be well and truly cleaned.  Don’t brush over this advice because you think they are going to “get dirty” anyway.  Pots that are dirty can contain pests, bacteria, and fungus that can harm your plants before they even get started.  Same is true for your glasshouse or polytunnel.  As well as letting in extra light you will get rid of all the overwintering red spider

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