May Gardening with Klaus Laitenberger

Added: 03/05/16 : 10:09:37

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

May is definitely the busiest month in your vegetable garden and hopefully you have managed to do all the other jobs such as bed preparation in the previous months. The soil has warmed up sufficiently to sow and plant nearly all vegetables.  So make sure you take time off in May so that you can spend days in the garden!  Finish preparing the beds and keep the hoe and rake moving over them. Watch out for late frosts and have some horticultural fleece handy to cover your potatoes if needed. You should thin out your radish and turnip seedlings.
Please also read on about our new appeal for soil protection below the monthly gardening information.
Outdoor sowing:
In the first half of May you can sow early beetroot, early carrots, parsnips, perpetual spinach, annual spinach, chard, radish, turnip, peas and runner beans directly into the ground.
Towards the end of the month you can sow maincrop carrots and beetroot and any crops you didnít manage to sow at the beginning of the month.
Indoor sowing:
In May you can still sow the following vegetables into modular trays: winter cabbages, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, kale, kohlrabi, swede, turnip, lettuce, scallions, spinach and chard.
If you havenít sown courgettes, pumpkins, squash, runner beans and sweetcorn yet you can still do so at the first half of the month.
Towards the end of the month you can sow Florence fennel and Chinese cabbage.

You can plant out the crops you sowed in the previous month: the first batch of leeks, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, kohlrabi, rocket, swede, turnip, lettuce, perpetual spinach, chard, annual spinach and scallions.

Towards the end of the month you may be able to harvest some oriental salads, radish, turnips and annual spinach.

Pest watch
Donít forget to keep a check on your plants especially the seedlings outside. This is the time when they are most vulnerable to a slug attack. You also need to be wary of leatherjackets, the larva of the daddy-longlegs. They can be a terror during this month especially on newly planted lettuce. If a small lettuce suddenly dies, itwas probably eaten by a leatherjacket. They actually just bite through the stem of the young plants. If you donít find the culprit in the soil it will move on to the next plant.
If you had carrot root fly in previous years it is nearly essential that you cover the early sown carrots with a bionet.

May is the most exciting month in your tunnel or greenhouse. This is the time to plant out your summer crops Ė your tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers and basil.
Take good care of them and give them a fabulous soil and they will reward you with a bounty of delicious sun-ripened fruit. Once the busy spell of planting is over you can start to relax again.
ďPeople 4 SoilĒ Campaign

I am honoured to be part of this wonderful campaign for the protection of our soils.  Following the International Year of Soils 2015 and great awareness raising about soil degradation, this campaign is fighting for a legal protection of soils.

We have inherited our soils from previous generations of farmers and we have an obligation to leave this precious soil behind so that future generations can also make a livelihood.  Instead we have destroyed and degraded vast tracts of our living soils to such an extent which is close to being beyond repair.  At present 25% of the arable land area become degraded through human activities (mainly intensive farming) and billions of tons of topsoil are being lost every year.

Our biggest challenge as a human species in the next decade is to find ways to counteract this global decline of soil fertility.
We need to learn to understand what are the causes and possible solutions for a more sustainable management of soils.

This People 4 Soil Initiative is a most important step.  Groups of people and organisations throughout Europe are now campaigning that soil protection should be enshrined in EU law.

In Ireland it is the Environmental Pillar which is comprised of 28 national independent environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who work together to represent the views of the Irish environmental sector.
The campaign will be launched in September this year and we require over 8,000 signatures.  If anyone reading this newsletter has a blog, mailing list of like-minded people etc, please let us know.
I will forward the information to Michael Ewing who is the national co-ordinator of the Environmental Pillar.
Information on People 4 Soil

We are a free network of organisations
"People 4 Soil" is a free and open network of European NGOs, research institutes, farmers associations and environmental groups. We are very worried about the increasing degradation of soils both in the EU and at global level: erosion, sealing, loss of organic matter, compaction, salinisation, landslides and contamination have negative impacts on human health, food security, natural ecosystems, biodiversity and climate, as well as on our economy. 

We want Europe to recognize soil as a common good
We want to put pressure on European institutions to adopt specific legislation on soil protection, fixing principles and rules to be complied by the Member States. We want Europe to recognize soil as a common good essential for our lives and to assume its sustainable management as a primary commitment. 

So far, soil has no rights
At the moment, soil is not subject to a coherent set of rules in the Union: the proposal for a Soil Framework Directive has been withdrawn in May 2014 after it ran into a blocking minority for eight years. Existing EU policies in other areas are not sufficient to ensure an adequate level of protection for all soils in Europe. 

Through a petition promoted by EU citizens
European citizens have the right to recommend EU legislation via the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI). By joining ďPeople 4 SoilĒ, you'll become promoters of an online petition targeted at introducing a specific legislation on soil in Europe. When the initiative will be launched, we will ask you to engage in spreading the petition. 

In 2015, International Year of Soils
United Nations declared 2015 the International Year of Soils: this is a real opportunity to create a network of NGOs, associations and other organisations supporting the cause of soil protection. The petition will be launched on 2016, and will last for 12 months. 

People 4 Soil is a network of European organisations that claims a right to soil. 
Read the call and find out how you can help us.
6th Ė 8th May 2016
Garden Show Ireland, Antrim Castle Gardens,
We will be at this wonderful event on Friday and Saturday.  Monty Don is officially
21st May 2016
On Saturday 21st May at 2.00pm Iíll give a talk/workshop on Unusual Vegetables at the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin.  The event is free but booking is essential.  More information can be found on:
27th May 2016
The Permaculture / Sustainable Horticulture course in Kinsale College, in collaboration with Transition Town Kinsale, is excited to be hosting 'Food for the Future', a one-day conference on Friday the 27th May in celebration and development of sustainable and healthy local food systems.
For more information and booking have a look at:

General April tasks and garden maintenance

Added: 11/04/16 : 15:04:00

Beware of late frosts and keep vulnerable plants and new shoots protected at night if frost is forecast. Donít be tempted to put out tender bedding until much later on in the month, and even then be prepared to cover it if necessary.

Deadhead daffodils and narcissi; give them a liquid feed or a sprinkling of bonemeal and then let them die down. Donít cut off the leaves as they are necessary to replenish the bulb for next year. Keep deadheading spring bedding to keep it looking neat, and to encourage new flowers.

Continue with the spring cleaning. Hoe your borders, getting rid of weeds before they take hold - annual weeds such as bitter cress and groundsel are enough of a nightmare without allowing them to go forth and multiply by seeding. If itís dry, attack ground elder and the like with systemic weed killer painted onto the leaves.

Mulch away while you can still see what you are doing and before the herbaceous growth really takes off. Use your own garden compost or leaf mould, well rotted manure, the contents of out-of-date grow bags or ready-made soil conditioner.

Now the soil is warming up and things are starting to grow, add general purpose fertiliser before covering with mulch especially in borders, the fruit and vegetable patch and containers. If you have already mulched, draw it back (if possible), tease the soil a little, add fertiliser and replace the mulch.

Carry on removing moss and weeds from paths, terraces and drives.

Make new beds and borders - mark the shape with sand trickled from a bottle, remove the top layer of growing vegetation and dig the ground over, incorporating as much organic matter as possible. If you are making a bed in the lawn, remove the turf Ė if you dig it in the buried grass will regrow.

Clean and repair your garden tools, book the lawn mower in for a service and check garden furniture for any rot. When it is warm enough, treat sheds, fences and trellis with wood preservative; brushes and rollers are fine for most things, however a sprayer is well worth buying for tricky projects such as woven panels!

Now is the time to wage war on slugs and snails. They love tulips and delicacies such as the delicious young shoots of delphiniums and the like, so use pet-friendly slug pellets, and drench the ground around hostas with liquid slug killer to exterminate slugs below the surface. Keep an eye out for snails and pick them off - what you do with them is up to you. Birds are your friends here - flat stones artfully located are useful accessories for birds to practise their snail catching techniques.