April Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

Finally the gardening year begins.  From now on everything moves fast and I need to shake myself from hibernation.  There is little time to reflect.

April is a busy month. 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.

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. 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 till later on in the month or even in early May.

You can still plant Jerusalem artichokes and broad bean (Witkeim).  It is getting a bit late for garlic.  You need to plant the cloves as soon as possible.

If you delay planting garlic until May, it doesn’t get a cold spell which it needs for bulb formation.  You will get a single bulb instead, rather than cloves.


Indoor sowing (no heat):

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 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 the scallions and early cabbages.


April is the beginning of the ‘Hungry Gap’ period where the winter vegetables are going and nonew 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.


Potato blight breeding

I’m really looking forward to our potato breeding trial.  We’ll grow close to 20 varieties and plant them close together (just a few tubers of each type) and then let them flower and produce these small tomato like fruits which contain seeds.  These seeds will be sown in the following year and each seed will be a new variety.



Saturday 9th April 2016:

Talks in Ardcarne Garden Centres in Boyle and Roscommon

For more information have a look at: http://www.ardcarne.ie/


Saturday 16th April 2016

Course at Mount Falcon Hotel, Ballina, Co. Mayo

‘Growing Your Own Organic Vegetables’



Saturday 23rd April 2016

Course at the Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim

‘Importance of Soil and Growing Unusual Vegetables’



Tuesday 26th April 2016

Farm Walk at the excellent organic market garden in Co. Cork.  The holding is run by Rory Magorrian and is in Ballyhooly.



Saturday 30th April to Sunday 2nd May

Mussel Festival in Tully Cross, Connemara, Co. Galway.  One of the best weekends of the year.



6th – 8th May 2016

Garden Show Ireland, Antrim Castle Gardens,