We just received our onion and shallot sets and garlic bulbs. Here is
some useful information about these crops that belong to the Allium
family. This family is actually called Amaryllidaceae. All members of
this family are monocotyledons. That simply means that they only have
one seed leaf (cotyledon) while most other vegetables are dicotyledons
and have two seed leaves.
A few practical tips:
Onion sets can be planted from mid March to mid April. They require a
reasonably fertile soil which should be quite firm. If planted into
loose soil – I think they are more prone to bolting as the roots can’t
get hold of the soil. Obviously I don’t mean a compacted soil. After
preparing the seedbed I lay a board of timber (about 3m long) on the bed
and stand on it to lightly and evenly compress the soil.
Onion sets are planted half into the soil and the tops sticking out.
Birds are a problem in many gardens and the sets may need to be
protected with a bird netting for the first few weeks until shoots
appear. The spacing is 10cm in the row and 30cm between the rows.
Onions should be harvested when nearly all the leaves have turned yellow
and fallen over. The variety Forum F1 is a very early variety and
should be eaten by late autumn.
Winter storage onion sets will be in stock within the next couple of weeks.
Shallots can be planted from mid February until early April. The same
ground preparation as for onion applies. Shallot bulbs divide to
produce 6-10 shallots so the spacing is 30cm x 30cm. Otherwise they are
grown and harvested like onions.
Here are a few tips to growing good garlic. I highly recommend
increasing the spacing to 25cm x 25cm. With this wide spacing you’ll
get nice big bulbs. The outside cloves make the best bulbs. Cloves
should be planted twice their own depth, this way they don’t turn
green. They should also be planted as early as possible ideally in
February or into mid March. They need a period of cold weather in order
for the bulbs to divide into cloves. If they don’t get the cold spell
you’ll only get a solid round bulb.
Another important thing is to harvest garlic when the leaves are still
standing and just turning yellow/brown. If the leaves fall over the
bulbs often split up and are not suitable for storage. These should be
I will give a talk on Organic Vegetable Growing on Monday 20th
February at 7.30pm in Passage West at Church of Ireland Hall, near Cork
City. It’s organised by the local GIY groups and entrance is €5 and
kids are free. For more information contact Steven on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 086 2405573
We are still requiring lots of signatures to protect our soils. This is
a European Citizens’ Initiative and we need 1,000,000 signatures so
that policy makers will bring in legislation to protect our soils. In
Ireland, our target is 8,700 signatures and we are still a long way off
this mark. Please sign this petition and encourage others to do the
same. Our soils are under threat!
“A nation that forgets to dig the soil and to tend the earth, forgets itself”. Gandhi
Here is the link to sign the petition: http://environmentalpillar.ie/people4soil/
Great news – Organic Farming keeps on booming and people are
continuously buying more organic produce. IFOAM (International
Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) have just released the
latest global statistics on organic farming. The year is 2015.
Here is a summary:
- The countries with the largest share of organic agricultural
land of their total farmland are the Liechtenstein (30.2 percent),
Austria (21.3 percent), and Sweden (16.9 percent). In eleven countries
10 percent or more of all agricultural land is organic.
- Ireland has reached 2% in 2015. Still a long way to go.
- Worldwide a total of 50.9 million hectares were organically
managed at the end of 2015, representing a growth of 6.5 million
hectares over 2014, the largest growth ever recorded.
- Australia is the country with the largest organic
agricultural area (22.7 million hectares) followed by Argentina (3.1
million hectares), and the United States of America (2 million
- There were 2.4 million organic producers worldwide; India has
the most organic producers (2.4 million), followed by Ethiopia
(203’602), Mexico (200’039) and Uganda (190,670).
- The country with the highest number of organic producers in the EU is Italy with 52,609.
- The best organic consumers in the world (with highest per capita consumption) are:
Switzerland (€262 per capita), Denmark (€191), Sweden (€177), Luxembourg
(€170), Austria (€127), United States (€111), Germany (€106)