January Gardening Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,
I wish all readers a wonderful and successful gardening year in 2018. The last year was certainly quite a challenge with all the rain throughout the summer – especially here in the west. Let’s hope that we’ll finally get a great summer.
I will have a busy spring – not busy with growing crops, but busy looking at them. With the Nuffield Scholarship I will travel with a group of international students to Holland, Italy, Canada, US, Argentina and Chile and then I’ll travel on my own to Bolivia and Peru. The purpose of the trip is look at agricultural innovations throughout the world and in the last 3 weeks in Peru, I will look into crops from the Andes mountains that may have potential for growing in Ireland – possibly concentrating on just 3 or 4 crops.
Some of the most promising types are yacon, oca, ulluco and mashua (see below).
Have a look at the Nuffield website below if you are interested in finding out more about the scholarship or if you would like to apply for the following year.

Also have a look at the following link from which you can access all previous scholars’ reports. They are well written and some have very interesting study topics.

Renvyle Gardening Weekend
As far as I’m aware there are still spaces available for the gardening weekend in Renvyle House Hotel/Kylemore Abbey on Fri 16th – Sun 18th February 2018 with Anja Gohlke (head Gardener at Kylemore Abbey), Joy Larkcom, Kitty Scully and myself. What a great opportunity to meet my gardenening hero Joy Larkcom.
Price: €195.00pp and includes 2 Bed & Breakfast,
1 Dinner & 1 Bar Food Evening Meal (Main Course + Tea/Coffee)

New seed varieties and plants
Please find below a list and description of some of our new seed range for Green Vegetable Seeds:
Aubergine ‘Leonidia’
This is a real gem – even people who don’t love aubergines will love this vegetable. It produces long lilac fruits with white stripes and very tender, bitter-free flesh. It is so special and unique to this area in Greece that it has been awarded a Protected Designation of Origin status. This means that only in this area the vegetable can be sold as “Tsakonian Eggplant”. This is quite similar to the Jersey Royal potato which can only be sold as Jersey Royal if grown on the Jersey island, otherwise the same potato is sold as Intermediate Kidney. It’s the first year I’m trying out this new aubergine, but I was so overwhelmed by it that we make it available immediately and let gardeners try it out and hopefully give us some feedback.
Tomato “Iris”
My favourite beef tomatoes with perfectly shaped large oval fruits and moist flesh which doesn’t lose water when slicing. The flavour and yield are exceptional. I named it after my mother “Iris” who has bred this variety and grown it for over 20 years. It performs perfectly in a polytunnel or greenhouse. A number of Irish gardeners have trialled it in 2017 with great success. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Thyme, Common
Thyme is surprisingly easy to grow from seed and tends to produce much healthier and stronger plants compared to plants raised from cuttings. Thyme is a wonderfully aromatic herb ideal for the kitchen as well as an edging plant for your beds.
Chives are very easy to grow from seed. It’s a good idea to renew your chive patch every few years with a fresh batch of plants. There tends to be a build up of Allium diseases if grown for too many years in the same bed.
Fennel – “Common Green”
The herb fennel is a perennial plant and you’ll get fresh fern-like leaves for many years and fennel seeds in the autumn. This must be the easiest plant you can grow in your garden. One or two plants are usually sufficient for a family.
Squash – “Buttercup”
A vigorous trailing plant with unusual shaped fruits with grey-green skin. It has very firm flesh with superb sweet flavour.

We offer a small range of the Lost Crops of the Incas and some of our first potatoes from our breeding experiment. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of tubers available for 2018, so early ordering is recommended.

Oca – mixed varieties
Oca is still my favourite “Inca Crop”. Just like the potato it is so well suited to Irish growing conditions and it doesn’t even get blight. You’ll get 5 average sized tubers (or more if they are small) of at least three different varieties. On arrival, store the tubers in a pot of damp sand in a cold but frost free shed. Tubers can be planted (just like potatoes) in April and harvested only a couple of weeks after the frost has killed off the leaves. That’s very important because if you harvest earlier there will only be tiny tubers.
Packet of five tubers (or more if they are very small) – €5.00
Ulluco is a new crop for me and only very rarely available. I got a few pea sized tubers from a friend and grew them in Bundoran and in a garden in Inishannon. I was thrilled with the success. There were lots of small ones as well as a few big tubers. The tubers are so beautiful and well worth having a go at something new. You’ll get 5 very small pea-sized tubers. On arrival, store the tubers in a pot of damp sand in a cold but frost free shed. I recommend planting the tubers in early April in small pots and plant outdoors in May. Harvest only a couple of weeks after the frost has killed off the leaves.
Packet of five small tubers – €4.00

This is definitely the easiest of the Inca tubers and also the prettiest. In last month’s newsletter there is a recipe for delicious mashua croquettes. You’ll get 3 tubers. On arrival, store the tubers in a pot of damp sand in a cold but frost free shed. Tubers can be planted (just like potatoes) in April and harvested only a couple of weeks after the frost has killed off the leaves.
Packet of three tubers – €4.00

Potato tubers
This is the first release of our new range of potatoes. In case you haven’t heard about our experiment – it started in 2016 where we crossed 18 different varieties and collected the true seed (from the tomato-like fruits). These seeds were sown in seed trays in 2017 and planted out in April and harvested in September. The interesting bit is that each seedling produced a new variety of potato and yielded a crop of potatoes.
You’ll get 5 small to average sized tubers (or more if they are very small). On arrival, store the tubers in a pot of damp sand in a cold but frost free shed. Tubers can be planted in April.
There is no guarantee though – each one is a new variety and I’m curious to get your feedback
Packet of five small to average sized tubers – €4.00

Organic Farming Internship Programme – Horticulture
This is a great opportunity to learn and work at one of a few selected organic market gardens throughout the country with some of the most experienced growers. It includes various farm visits and monthly lectures, usually held in Cloughjordan Eco-Village.
For more information have a look at the Organic Growers of Ireland website:


I wish you all a wonderful and Happy New Year.

Klaus Laitenberger