Gardening Newsletter April 2022

Gardening Newsletter April 2022
Dear Fellow Gardeners,

 This must have been the nicest early spring in many years.  It’s wonderful to see all the early awakenings in nature.  The blackthorn (sloe berry) is now in full flower and this should give us some caution.  In the old lore, this time is called the “Blackthorn Winter”.  The warm weather triggers the blackthorn trees into flowering and this is always followed by a very cold spell, often while the blackthorn is still flowering.


Globalisation of Agriculture

The recent world crisis is showing us the vulnerability of our globalised world and globalised farming methods.  A lot of these facts are starting to come to light now.  Twenty five percent of the artificial nitrogen is produced in Russia (with disastrous environmental impacts). The production of nitrogen fertiliser produces 1.5 times more CO2 than the entire global aviation industry. The Ukraine produces over 10% or the world’s wheat.  Germany imports 48% of its energy from Russia and so do many other European countries.  What hasn’t made headlines yet is that we import phosphorous from Morocco, potassium from Canada and even more disastrous – soy bean for animal feed from Argentina and Brazil.  Brazil grows soy beans on an area larger than the entire EU land area and nearly all of it is grown as GM soy which is resistant to Roundup.  Soy bean production and expansion goes hand in hand with rainforest destruction.


Food Imports

In Ireland we import over 80% of our fruit and vegetables and don’t even grow our bread wheat (with the exception of a handful of amazing small-scale growers).  There are less than 50 commercial apple growers left in Ireland – that’s the same amount as in the small village in Germany where I grew up!


The interesting and hopeful fact is that there is absolutely no need for this type of globalised farming.  This industrial farming method is now coming to an end because its excessive inputs have become too expensive.  An organic or bio-dynamic mixed farm buys in very few inputs.  They grow their own feed for their livestock and food for people.  The “waste” products are the sources of soil fertility rather than a pollutant.  All farm enterprises support each other and are in harmony.  The problem with this type of farming is that the big companies will not benefit from it and it’s of no benefit to our GDP growth.

New Organic Farming Scheme (OFS)

The Department of Agriculture has launched a new Organic Farming Scheme and hopefully it will be taken up by many farmers.  It really should because it’s better for the environment and also more financially rewarding.

I recently heard an interesting statistic from the UK.  The UK taxpayers pay £10 billion in farm subsidies, £10 billion in cleaning up the environmental pollution caused by industrial farming and £50 billion in the health service to treat food related illnesses such as obesity and diabetes.  This money could be much wiser spent – maybe through supplying organic fruit and vegetable boxes for free to low-income families?


What to do in April?

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!


Gardening Newsletter April 2022
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 the end of the month or in May.


Indoor sowing

Seeds which can be sown indoors now (without heat mat) 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 full range of vegetable seeds have a look at our website:

Gardening Newsletter April 2022

Growing potatoes – the Leitrim Way

I’m a regular contributor of the Saturday BBC Gardener’s Corner Radio Programme.  With the presenter David Maxwell we planted early potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day.

He recorded a short video:

And here is the link to the Radio programme:

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A good information for all gardening news is the Irish Garden Magazine: