April Gardening Newsletter
Dear Fellow Gardeners,
April is one of the busiest months in the vegetable garden. There is little time left to reflect – only time for getting the garden ready for another fruitful year.
There are quite a lot of vegetables that can be sown in April – both indoors in modular trays and outdoors – directly into the ground. The next 6 weeks are the most demanding for any vegetable gardener as we have to carefully mind all our little seedlings until they are ready to plant into the garden while at the same time getting the ground ready. There will be no more weekends off.
In this newsletter you’ll find:
– What to do in your vegetable garden in April
– Upcoming courses and workshops
– Job opportunity
Gardening Jobs in April
In April you should try to have all the beds prepared even if you don’t plant anything yet. This allows you to control the weeds before the crops go in. Give the prepared beds a sprinkle of seaweed dust and rake it in. Keep an eye out for slugs. They are starting to get busy.
The soil is starting to warm up but it is still far too early to sow directly outside for most crops (with a few exceptions of course). However you will be very busy sowing seeds indoors and cluttering up your windowsills or filling your greenhouse with seed trays.
Outdoor sowing and planting:
The only vegetables I sow directly outdoors in April are early peas, radish and turnips. If you haven’t got enough propagation space you can sow spinach and chard directly outside instead of raising it in modules. Mid April is a good time to plant your maincrop potatoes. If you haven’t planted your onion and shallot sets yet you can still plant them now. In the warmer parts of the country you can sow your early carrots, early beetroot and parsnips but I always have a lot more success with these if I delay the sowing until May.
Seeds which can be sown indoors include winter leeks, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, kohlrabi, rocket, swede, turnip, lettuce, perpetual spinach, chard, annual spinach and scallions
Indoor sowing with heat: Courgette, pumpkin, squash, French bean, runner bean, basil and sweetcorn can be sown in small pots at the end of the month and leave them on a warm south-facing windowsill.
When the soil conditions are favourable you can plant out scallions, oriental salads and early cabbages.
April is the beginning of the ‘Hungry Gap’ period where the winter vegetables are running out and no new crop is ready. You may still have a few root vegetables in store (potato, carrot, beetroot and parsnip) and outside you may pick purple sprouting broccoli and some perpetual spinach and chard.
For a great range of vegetable seeds have a look at our website:
Courses and events
Ardcarne Garden Centres in Boyle and Roscommon – Saturday 8th April 2017
A free talk on vegetable growing at this wonderful garden centre in Boyle and Roscommon. This has become an annual spring event.
For details and times have a look at their website:
Connemara Mussel Festival – Friday 28th April – Sunday 30th April
I have been to this amazing festival in the last four years. It’s in one of the most beautiful areas in Ireland and with the nicest people. It’s well worth spending a weekend away or even a week and then join the gardening weekend in Renvyle House Hotel the following weekend, just up the road.
There are lots of exciting events on during the weekend – have a look at their website:
I will spend the afternoon making lazy beds and grow potatoes like they were grown in the olden days. Manure or seaweed is spread onto the grass and seed potatoes laid on top of it and then the soil is folded over. This is such a unique Irish technique – nowhere else seen in the world. It’s an ancient technique about to die out unless we keep up the tradition. Quite a lot of old farmers and gardeners still have the knowledge and the skill and will hopefully join us on the day. Each county in Ireland had a slightly different technique and also different spades. So please if you have some skills or knowledge from your area in Ireland, please come and share it with others. Here in Connemara there are plenty of remnants of how potatoes were grown a long time ago visible on hills and mountains. Please bring along wellies and have a go. If you have an old time spade I would love to see it as well.
Gardening Weekend in Renvyle House Hotel in Connemara – 5th-7th May 2017
There are a few spaces left for the gardening weekend at Renvyle House, one of the most amazing places in Ireland. The course is run by myself and Anja, the Head Gardener at Kylemore Abbey. The weekend include a trip to Kylemore Abbey Walled Garden with Anja. More info on:
Course at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin
Gardening Workshop: Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production Saturday 13th May
Join Klaus Laitenberger, for presentations and practical demonstrations on seed sowing and soil evaluation, a question and answer session, and a walk through our amazing Organic Vegetable Garden. During this comprehensive workshop, Klaus will outline the basics of soil fertility management, propagation, crop planning and variety selection, as well as how to prevent pests, diseases and weeds organically. Time: TBA Course cost €30 pp or free to those who are unemployed (limited places) Booking or enquiries via National Organic Training Skillnet.Phone:0719640688 www.nots.ie Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This course is likely to be fully booked soon.
Course at the Organic Centre, Co. Leitrim – 20th May 2017
A day course on ‘Healthy Soils and Growing Unusual Vegetables@
“Klaus will show you how to build fertility, maintain it and improve it. He will demonstrate how organic growing without pesticides and herbicides will produce healthy plants and healthy food. In the afternoon you will learn how to grow the more unusual vegetables that everybody talks about like Oca, Mashua, Yacon, Lentils, Amaranth, Quinoa as well as some unusual fruits such as Sea Buckthorn and rosehips.
Gardener wanted at Irish Seed Savers
The Irish Seed Savers Association is a wonderful organisation and is looking for an experienced gardener to help with the very important and wonderful work – a great opportunity for any experienced gardener.
Contact: Email: email@example.com Tel: 061-921856/66 Web: http://www.irishseedsavers.ie
Environmental films at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin
In conjunction with An Taisce and Christchurch, Dublin there was a screening of the most amazing documentary “The Symphony of Soils”. It was a real celebration about the wonders and miracles of what goes on under our feet. It was also an eye-opener of what we are doing to this precious resource.
About Symphony of the Soil Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.
I hope this documentary will be viewed by as many people as possible. You can buy a DVD on their website:
Award for NOTS
Congratulations to NOTS – The National Organic Training Skillnet based in Drumshanbo
“Leitrim based National Organic Training Skillnet was awarded the Best Learning and Development Organisation (Network & Groups) in Ireland at last Fridays (03/03/2017) Irish Institute of Training and Development Awards, which took place in the Killashee House Hotel in Kildare.
National Organic Training Skillnet (NOTS) offer innovative learning and support to Irelands expanding agriculture and food sector. Offering a real enterprise led approach to businesses whereby they can access bespoke training programmes to match their emerging skills needs which will help develop and drive their enterprise forward.
A forestry friend of mine asked me to give him a plug for his new crowd-funding venture. He is a young and dedicated woodsman – in the truest sense. His eyes light up when he even talks about trees:
“My name is Nick Wallis. I am a woodsman in the west of Ireland and I specialise in native woodland restoration and establishment. I live with my wife Kerry and 3 boys on a small holding in Co Mayo.
Unfortunately being grant based the forestry sector was one of the first casualties of the crash in this country and with very little warning the rug was pulled from under me in 2008 I could not throw the towel in and have tried hard to stay working in the sector in a very tough time but at last there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel and i am grateful i did not give up (thanks to the support both emotionally and financially of family) though it wasn’t easy to keep those dark clouds at bay…
I want to grow my business of low impact forestry and conservation of native woodland in this beautiful part of Ireland, by managing the existing woodlands in a responsible manner thus ensuring that current and future generations can improve their mental and physical well being. the forest is also a working environment which provides us with a durable raw material.
In order to do this I am undertaking to raise funds via a crowd-funding campaign on GOFUNDME under the name THE CHOPPING BLOCK and hopefully I can raise the required monies to help me grow and support my business in the forestry sector. I would be grateful for any support (all donations greatly appreciated) and with your help in spreading the word. In the words of Thomas Fuller “he who plants trees loves others besides himself”.
Keep hoeing and raking to get a good tilth!