February Gardening Newsletter

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 – 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.


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