February Gardening Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,
February is often the nicest month in Ireland. We really notice the days are getting a bit longer and we’ll probably get as much sunshine in February as in July. I really think we deserve some good weather soon.
There is good news about the Weekend Gardening Course in Renvyle – as the weekend is fully booked and with a long waiting list, Renvyle House Hotel decided to organise a second gardening weekend from Friday 2nd March to Sunday 4th March.
The topic for the second weekend will be slightly different. The main topic will be: How to grow salads, baby leaves and microgreens for the kitchen. There will also be a session on “Growing in Polytunnels and Greenhouses”.
For booking, please contact Renvyle House directly on:
Tel: 095 46100
Email: info@renvyle.com

Gardening Course in Bantry, Co. Cork
Grow your own vegetables – A beginner’s course – Thursday 1st March 2018
This course will give an introduction into growing your own vegetables. It’s actually very easy to grow your own food and you don’t even need a lot of land. Good planning and some basic gardening skills are sufficient to grow wonderfully fresh crops. As an old friend of mine once said – “Plants just want to grow”.
This course will focus on how to get started early in the year.
It will include:
– Getting your soil/garden ready
– Planning your garden and crop rotation
– Propagation, both seed sowing and division of herbs
– Organic pest, disease and weed management
The course will include practical demonstrations on propagation and ground preparation as well as information as well as theoretical aspects of planning the vegetable garden.
For booking this course, please contact Colman Whelton on 087 6023183 or email on Colman.Whelton@NLN.ie

Videos on Drainage:
A couple of weeks ago we did some amazing and free drainage work in a place in South Sligo. A large puddle or nearly a lake was drained with just a crowbar, a sledgehammer and muscles.
This method only works if the underlying rock is limestone and not too far below the top and subsoil. You drive the crowbar into the soil (wriggling it constantly so it won’t get stuck) and once you hit the bedrock you drive it in with a sledgehammer and crack the rock. Once you pull out the crowbar you’ll see the water gushing away like a waterfall. Have a look at the two videos. Sorry about the poor quality and lack of editing, but they are well worth watching especially the second shorter one. The water kept running like this for at least 3 hours.
The bad news is that it doesn’t work in all places. We tried it in Bundoran last week, but our crowbar wasn’t long enough. It was 4 feet in the ground but nowhere near the rock. Our postman will bring a 6 foot long crowbar and we’ll give it one last chance.

Nuffield Travels
I’m currently reading up on some countries that I will visit with the Nuffield Scholars Programme. Here are a few bits of information
Argentina is the 3rd largest producer of soya beans (after USA and Brazil). 20.3million ha of soya beans are grown there. To put it in perspective: the total agricultural land area in Ireland is 4.6million ha. Soya beans originate in Asia and have surely conquered the world like no other crop. It seems to be an ideal protein crop for humans and livestock and all livestock feed contains soya which is nearly always genetically modified (with the exception of organic soya). This genetic modification makes the soya bean plants resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. This simply means that soya bean crops can be sprayed with a weedkiller which kills all the competing weeds but not the crop itself. It’s beyond me how scientist could call this progress!
Environmental and social impacts of soya bean production:

Organic Argentina
On the other hand, Argentina has the second largest organically certified land area in the world after Australia. Here is the statistic:
1. Australia (17.2 million ha)
2. Argentina (3.1 million ha)
3. USA (2.2 million ha)
4. China (1.9 million ha)
5. Spain (1.7 million ha)
Another fact that struck me about Argentina – they have 50% of the world production of a plant that I haven’t even heard of – Yerba Mate.
Apparently it has the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one beverage.
It was called “the drink of the gods” by indigenous South Americans.
Has anyone come across this plant/drink. Sorry I nearly forgot to say – the Latin name is Ilex paraguariensis. It’s related to our holly tree.
Here is a website that lists a lot of the health benefits of this plant. I can’t wait to see it grow and taste some of the tea.

10 Health Benefits of Yerba Mate Tea (better than coffee)

Happy Gardening,
Klaus Laitenberger