August Gardening Newsletter

August Gardening Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

This year is a really trying year, more so for gardeners than for the vegetables.  Most crops are doing quite well despite the grey skies and the continuous rain.  They are a little slower to mature compared to better years.

I had to wait until the third week of July before I could harvest my first tomato – the good old reliable Sungold F1 came first as usual. Harvesting tomatoes and having a daily tomato soup and salad is always the highlight of my gardening year.

What to do in August?

August is a relatively quiet month in your vegetable garden.  You can sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour.  As soon as you have harvested and cleared a bed you should consider re-planting it or sowing a green manure crop. Keep on top of the weeds.


There are only a few vegetables you can still sow in August: lettuce (especially loose-leaf types or Little Gem), scallions, radishes, baby  turnips, annual spinach.  August is the best month to sow all your winter salads.  They prefer to grow in the latter half of the year.  The best ones are rocket, mizuna,  mustard ‘Red Frills’ and ‘Green Wave’, pak choy, claytonia, tatsoi and corn salad. If you wish to grow over-wintering spring cabbage now is the time to sow it.


Your garden should yield plentiful in August. You should still have broad beans, dwarf French beans, runner beans, cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, courgettes, marrow, kohlrabi,  lettuce, scallions, peas, early  potatoes, radish, spinach, chard and turnips.   You can start pulling some of your early carrots and beetroot.  At this stage never harvest more than you need for a few days.  Spring planted garlic should be ready now.  Wait until the leaves have turned yellow but are still standing.  Fork the bulbs out very gently and dry them thoroughly ideally in the sun.  Your onions are ready when most of the leaves have fallen over and turned yellow.


Good news:

People are buying more and more organic food in Ireland.  There is a staggering growth rate of 20% sales of organic food from June 2015 to June 2016.



This year I grow 12 varieties, some of my favourites and also some Italian classics I received from an expert Italian vegetable grower.

My favourites:

Sungold F1, Sweet Aperitif, Rosada F1 & 2, Rosella, Bite Size, Pantano Romanesco (beef), Zuckertraube

The new trial ones are:

Frangolino, Golden Gazzi, Yellow Egg, Black Ethiopian, Apricot Sprite

I’ll let you know which ones are the tastiest and hopefully we’ll be able to save some seeds of the best ones and make them available next year.

Just a couple of facts about tomatoes:

–          Never store them in the fridge – they lose the flavour immediately.

–          Tomatoes are one of the few vegetables that are healthier cooked or with oil drizzled over them.  Tomatoes contain lycopene – a health promoting antioxidant.  This is only made available to us if cooked or dissolved in oil.  Raw tomatoes don’t provide us with lycopene.

–          Tomatoes are officially –or legally – a vegetable, even if they really are fruits (botanically)

Rosada F1 was one of my very favourite tomato varieties ever.  The big disadvantage with F1 Hybrids is that we are dependent on the plant breeders and seed companies that maintain these varieties.  If they decide to drop a variety they become unavailable.  And this is what happened to Rosada F1.  It is gone forever and many foodies will remember it for its exquisite texture and flavour.

However, there is hope.  Many new and old varieties have been bred through hybridisation and then a stable open-pollinated variety was developed from it.

I have 10 plants of Rosada F2 and maybe one of them has the same flavour than the original F1 Rosada.  I can select seeds from that one plant only to get Rosada F3 and the following year F4.  This is probably not enough but luckily there is an organic grower and Rosada fan in Wicklow – Alun Owens who planted 150 Rosada F2 and F3 seeds.  He also finds a difference in size, flavour and taste but he should find at least 10 plants that match the original and if we do this over the next 3 years we should be able to select a new stable open pollinated Rosada variety.


Breeding tomatoes

If anyone is interested in breeding a new tomato variety, have a look at this most informative youtube video by “Work with Nature”.


Potato Breeding experiment:

If you haven’t followed up on our potato breeding experiments you’ll hear about in the next newsletter, but in the meantime you can simply collect the little tomato- like fruits of the potatoes as soon as they fall and keep them safe for the next year.  Each seed within them has the potential to be great new variety.


Diary Dates:

14th August 2016:       Tullamore Show

I’ll be there with the Organic Trust Ltd trying to promote organic farming methods in Ireland.

28th August2016:        Irish Seed Savers –

The Great Irish Garden Day to celebrate 25 years of this wonderful organisation.

2nd September 2016:    Walled Garden Study Day Russborough

Please see below for the programme.

3rd & 4th September 2016:       Ballymaloe Garden Festival

A weekend full of gardening at the organic gardens in Ballymaloe and an amazing list of expert lectures.  For a full programme and list of speakers:

21st September 2016: Ploughing Championship

Launch of People 4 Soil campaign in Ireland

8th October 2016:        Lecture at Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin

Title to be confirmed




This will be an exciting day with the key plants people, botanists and garden historians of Ireland.  Somehow they sneaked me in as well to talk about Vegetable Growing in Walled Gardens.  See below a list of speakers and lectures.  For more detailed information please a look at the full programme on:

From Lismore to Kylmore: the walled garden in Ireland from the 17th century to the modern era by Terence Reeves-Smyth

Horticulture under glass: Greenhouses in historic Walled Gardens by Dr Edward Diestelkamp

Brick in Ireland’s Historic Walled Gardens – ‘undoubtedly the handsomest and most commodious for nailing’ by Susan Roundtree

Growing Vegetables in Irish Walled Gardens: 18th and 19th century vegetable crops: what to know and how to grow by Klaus Laitenberger

Flower Schemes for Irish Walled Gardens- planning and practice by Dr Daphne Shackleton

The Walled Garden at Kylemore Abbey by Belinda Jupp

The Lost Gardens of Heligan: a 25 year heroic restoration by Iain Davies

 ‘The Conservation & Presentation of the Walled Gardens of the Phoenix Park including the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre , Aras an Uachtaráin & Farmleigh’ by Margaret Gormley,

The Walled Gardens of Fingal: Malahide Castle; Ardgillan Castle; and Newbridge House by Kevin Halpenny

Conserving & Restoring Walled Gardens  – love is not enough but it’s a good start by Finola Reid.


Hopefully I’ll meet some of you in Wicklow.  The cost for the day is €90 and booking is essential.  Contact: Emmeline Henderson on

Happy Gardening,


Klaus Laitenberger