We have finally moved again - last year we sold Milkwood Farm and rented
for 6 months in Bundoran while we renovated a cottage in Rossinver, Co.
Leitrim which is the village where I first moved to in 1999 when I
worked at the Organic Centre.
Rossinver is such a beautiful and
unspoilt little place. We have just discovered probably the most
beautiful and stunning walk along a gorgeous waterfall – Fowley’s Falls
in Rossinver. If this walk would be anywhere else it would be a major
tourist destination. It’s wonderfully kept by the Leitrim Development
Company and definitely worth a detour if you are in the area.
We will also have to start a new garden again. I had lots of challenges
in the past– blue dauby sticky soil at the Organic Centre which is
better for pottery than gardening – a wet boggy acid soil in Milkwood,
which actually turned out amazing and now a garden that could get
completely flooded after a couple of weeks of rain and with lots of
trees around causing shade.
I was toying with the idea of a floating
garden, but Joanna’s sense of aesthetics couldn’t accept it. Anyway
we’ll have plenty of time to get it ready before next spring. We are
also lucky to have a 3 acre woodland adjoining the house so I will
definitely create a forest garden by interplanting a number of useful
- New Book: Fruit and Vegetables for the Polytunnel and Greenhouse
- A natural slug potion
- Joy Larkcom’s revised book: The Salad Garden
- The Organic Market
New Book: “Fruit and Vegetables for thePolytunnel and Greenhouse” by Klaus Laitenberger
Just in case you missed my last newsletter – we have just launched the
new book on how to grow a very wide range of crops indoors. We still
have the special offer available for all newsletter subscribers for
another couple of days where the book is available at wholesale price.
For more information: Click here
A natural slug potion
This is a really efficient method of controlling slugs based on natural
slug predators. I heard about it at a lecture from a scientist but
could never find a link to it until recently at the Botanic Garden when a
kind lady forwarded me a link to an article by Toby Buckland:
“Slugs are prey to not just frogs, hedgehogs and birds but
microscopic bacteria and nematodes that live in soils. It’s these
nematodes (microscopic eelworms) that gardeners have been buying as a
form of biological control since the early Nineties. They really work on
those slugs that you don’t tend to see, but which do a lot of damage to
underground shoots and potatoes. In a garden, micro-predators live in
symbiosis with their slug hosts and only significantly dent the
population when slug numbers become disproportionately high. The
mail-order sachets of nematodes infected with deadly mollusc-killing
bacteria temporarily raise the proportion of nematodes and brings down
the slug population. I’ve been an advocate for years.
However, there is also an allotment-owner’s trick for making your
own slug-killing nematode potion, using nothing more than a bucket, some
weeds, tap water and the slugs from your own garden. If you are already
used to killing slugs by drowning them in a bucket, you’ll find this
method right up your street.
How to make your own slug killer In any average garden some slugs will be carrying bacterial diseases
or be infected by nematodes, but their low density means that they
won’t devastate the rest of the population. But, catch and confine the slugs and, if the disease or nematodes
are present, you can concentrate these micro-predators and harness their
natural slug-killing power.
Collect as many slugs as you can find in a
jar that has a few small air holes punched in the lid with a hammer and
nail – and a few weed leaves for them to eat. The best time to hunt for
slugs is after dark. In the gloom, slugs become quite brazen and eat on
top of leaves as opposed to holing up in cool, dark and damp places as
If stumbling around with a torch is a bridge too far, look for slugs
during the day in the drainage holes of pots, beneath stones and
hunkered in long grass. If they evade your efforts, set traps. A classic
that works brilliantly for hard-to-find small ground-dwelling slugs is
to place the scooped out half-shells of grapefruits near the crowns of
Come dawn, the slugs make for the damp yellow domes, as they love to
chew the pith inside. Slugs also make a beeline for cardboard. Lay a
sheet on the ground among long grass. Check your traps daily and gather
your slimy harvest into a jar.
Once you have caught around 10 to 20 slugs
– the more you have the better it works – decant them into a bucket
with an inch or so of water in the bottom for humidity and a few more
handfuls of leaves to make an edible floating island for your catch.
With the slugs safely inside, place a concrete slab (or any firm
cover) over the top to seal them in. The bucket is the perfect
environment for the nematodes and bacteria to breed. Nematodes spread in
water, so check regularly, giving the slugs a stir with a stick. The
idea isn’t to drown them but to keep them moist so the nematodes can
hunt them out.
Top tip: This is cheating a bit, but you
can use a bought pack of nematodes to “seed” the brew. Tap about a
teaspoon of powder into the bucket to help it along.
After a fortnight a high level of
nematodes will have built up inside the bucket and the slugs will have
died from infection. Now, you can dilute the brew: fill the bucket to
the top from the tap and decant into a watering can fitted with a rose.
Prevent the weed and slug mixture from falling into the can with a
filter of chicken wire folded over the can so it stays put while you
Water the sieved brew around vulnerable plants – the raised nematode population will seek out resident ground-dwelling slugs and see them off.
Like the shop-bought version, this slug killer gives up to six weeks
of protection. Save the contents of the chicken wire sieve (uurrgh!) to
start off your next nematode brew.”
The Salad Garden by Joy Larkcom
I have always been a massive fan of Joy Larkcom and of all her books.
I am so lucky that I got to know her and Don since they moved to
Ireland. The Salad Garden is really the classic book on salads and not
just salads as you would imagine. This book is wonderful for the
beginner but even experienced gardeners will find it extremely
valuable. I already took quite a few notes of salad crops and varieties
that are new to me. Thank you Joy.
A fully revised and updated edition of the ‘book of the century’ When The Salad Garden was first published in 1984, it was heralded
as a game changer by gardeners, chefs and the professional growers who
supplied restaurants and supermarkets. The colour photographs, by
renowned plant photographer Roger Phillips, brought to life a whole new
world of salad plants which the author had discovered on her year long
’Grand Vegetable Tour’ in Europe with her young family, and in later
experiments with oriental vegetables. Almost all the plants illustrated
had been grown on her market garden in Suffolk. The book’s iconic
status was crowned in a millennium BBC Food programme by
horticulturalist Michael Michaud, who nominated it as his ‘book of the
In the 30 years since ‘Salad Garden’ burst on the scene, the pace of
life has accelerated, and changes have taken place in the horticultural
world. The book ties in with the resurging popularity of accessible, casual, organic approaches to gardening and growing
vegetables. Joy champions potager gardening — a more relaxed,
wildlife-friendly approach to vegetable growing and this fully revised
and updated edition will appeal to the growing number of gardeners with
smaller spaces. Salads lend themselves perfectly to window boxes, containers and small raised beds.
Updates to the text are inclusion of new varieties of leaves, new
plants such as Cucamelon, marsh plant Salsola, ‘February orchid’ as well
as exciting new types of sorrel, salad rocket, cabbage and kales. This
edition also features new and updated techniques for growing in
containers and the latest developments in polytunnels, frames, cloches,
low tunnels. Lastly, the recipes have been updated with a more
contemporary feel, reflecting changes in eating habits; classic recipes
rub shoulders with imaginative new ideas.
The Organic Market
Here are a few statistics about organic agriculture:
- 50.9 million hectares of organic agricultural land worldwide
- Organic market grows by more than 75 billion Euros
- Organic market in different countries:
- United States 36 billion Euros, Germany 8.6 billion Euros, France 5.5 billion Euros and China 4.7 billion Euros.
- The highest per capita spending was in Switzerland – 262 Euros
- Denmark has the highest organic market share (8.4 % of total food market)
- In 2015 there were 2.4 million organic producers
- In 2015, 50.9 million hectares were organically managed – this was an increase of 6.5 million hectares from 2014.
- Australia is the country with the largest organic agricultural land area (22.7 million hectares)