February Gardening News from Klaus Laintenberger

Added: 05/02/17 : 07:12:41

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

Who would have thought that January was such a beautiful month.  The winter rains usually last well into February and the soil stays saturated until March – but not this year.  I was happy gardening in the last few weeks without getting stuck in the mud.  We were mulching the hedges with semi-decomposed woody shredding which we got from a local tree surgeon.  This is such good value.  It cost €100 for a massive trailer load – delivery included.

In Glor na Mara community gardens/allotments in Bundoran we reclaimed another wild area where people dumped all sorts of garden waste and stones etc.  We spread some shreddings over it all to get it reasonably level and then covered with black plastic (bits that were ripped) doubled up and then a 4 inch layer of woody shreddings on top of the plastic. 

Then I took hardwood cuttings from blackcurrants and josta berry and stuck them through the plastic.  Even if it was very late for hardwood cuttings (November is the ideal time) I have no doubt that at least some will take root.  That was so satisfying!
Seed potatoes now in stock
This year we have some amazing and unique varieties available.  They are all of excellent quality and the tubers are certified disease free.

First earlies: 
Plant in tunnel in February and harvest in late May/June
Plant outdoors in mid March and harvest July
Spacing: 20cm in drill (drills widely spaced so you can earth up)
Second earlies:
Plant outdoors in late March/mid April and harvest late July to September
Spacing: 30cm in drill (drills widely spaced so you can earth up)
Plant outdoors in mid April and harvest late September to October
Spacing: 30cm in drill (drills widely spaced so you can earth up)
There are about 10-12 seed potatoes in a kilo.
With a spacing of 1 ft (30cm), you’ll get a 10-12ft (3.5 -4m) long drill per kilo.
With a spacing of 20cm, you’ll get 2.5m long drill per kilo.
International Kidney – also known as Jersey Royal (First Early)
Jersey Royal certainly sounds a lot better than International Kidney, but only potato growers from Jersey can call them with the real name.  This potato originated in Jersey around 1880.  A local farmer, Hugh de la Haye, spotted one large kidney shaped potato.  Apparently it had 15 eyes and he cut out each eye and planted these.  This was the beginning of the Jersey Royals.

The EU protects this variety and it was given protection of designation of origin (PDO), just like champagne that can only come from the Champagne region.

Chefs rave about this early potato variety which has an amazing buttery, sweet and distinctive taste. Jersey Royals are at their best boiled with their skins on.

You can grow them like any early potato and plant the seed potatoes around mid March.  Potatoes can be harvested from June onwards.  If left in the ground a bit longer they can be used as a maincrop potatoes and can be used for roasting, chips or wedges.

“It'd be a waste not to indulge in Jersey Royals as often as you can. Their distinctive sweet and summery flavour turns a mediocre dish into something much more memorable. “

Good Housekeeping
We also stock the following varieties:
Red Duke of York, Homeguard, Charlotte, Wilja, Sarpo Mira, Salad Blue, Golden Wonder and Pink Fir Apple.
For descriptions on these varieties click here:
Oca Recipes
I recently gave some oca tubers to a good friend and wonderful chef – Bernadette O’Shea.  As you can read below she was most impressed about this old/new crop and gave me some culinary suggestions.

Don’t forget – the potato was once a new crop in Ireland and it came from the same area as the oca.  I really think that within a few years you’ll find oca tubers for sale in shops.

This year I’m planning to go on a vegetable trip to South America – to discover more of the Lost Crops of the Incas.  I have obviously been inspired by Joy Larkcom who travelled throughout Europe and Asia to discover the most amazing crops which we all have available now in Ireland.

Bernadette O’Shea’s Oca Recipes

“So loved the Oca you gave me.  I'd love to see this vegetable widely available on menus. Even the "ridgey", fingerling look of them. Reminds me of both Jerusalem artichoke and the tiny Chinese artichoke. Easy to prepare - a good scrub but no peeling. I steamed, boiled, roasted and prepared raw and half cooked.

For more ideas on how to use oca, please click the link below.

Gardening Weekend in Renvyle House Hotel in Connemara – 5th-7th May 2017
Just a quick reminder about the gardening weekend at Renvyle House and Kylemore Abbey.  More info on:
Happy Gardening


Onion sets and garlic

Added: 12/02/17 : 08:47:42

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

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 eaten first.

Onion sets, shallots and garlic bulbs are now available from our seed shop:

Upcoming Talk:
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 pgmgrowityourself@gmail.com or on 086 2405573

Peple4Soil Campaign
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:
Organic Growth
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 hectares).
-          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)
A lot more information can be found on the publication:

Happy Gardening,