March 2023 Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

 

This is my favourite time of the year when nature starts to wake up from its long slumber.  Hopefully St. Patrick’s weekend will be kind to us for planting our first early potatoes, onion sets and shallots.  You can still plant garlic, broad beans and Jerusalem artichokes.  Apart from these there is little else we can sow outdoors.

 

This is certainly the time when gardeners get itchy fingers but don’t be too tempted – these days are just teasers.  Apart from the crops I mentioned above there is little else you can sow or plant directly outdoors.  I always argue that one of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is to be too impatient and sow or plant too early.

 

If you have a polytunnel or greenhouse you can raise many plants indoors to plant out later.  A south-facing windowsill may also be an option but very often plants are becoming very leggy and spindly and find it difficult to adjust to outdoor conditions once planted out.

 

Below is a short chapter on what to sow or plant in March.

 

Indoor sowings for planting outdoors later:

Lettuce, scallions, early cabbage, celery, celeriac, leeks, coriander, dill, parsley, beetroot, calabrese, oriental salads, perpetual spinach, chard (from mid March onwards).

 

Indoor sowings direct into tunnel or greenhouse:

Early potatoes, radish, turnip, oriental salads, beetroot, carrot, annual spinach, coriander, dill.

 

Indoor sowing in trays for planting into tunnel or greenhouse:

Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, chilli peppers, climbing French beans, sweetcorn, lettuce, scallions, celery, coriander, dill, parsley, calabrese, oriental salads.

 

 

Mother’s Day Garden Gift Box – €20.00

 

A perfect gift for mother’s day – a gardening gift box containing 12 seed packets.  It includes the following seeds:

Sweet Pea Mix, Carrot Early Nantes, Courgette Black Beauty, Broad Bean Martock, Cabbage Balkan, Kale Nero di Toscana, Parsley Italian Giant, Radish Cherry Bell, Lettuce Surprise Mix, Sunflowers, Oriental Salad Rocket Victoria, Sweetcorn Golden Bantam.

 

Here is the link:

Mother’s Day Garden Gift Box – Green Vegetable Seeds

 

A tip for Leeks

I have a little trick with leeks – I sow both autumn leeks and winter leeks on the same date and plant them out at the same time in late April.  By having two types you can harvest the autumn leeks from September to November and the winter leeks from November to February.  Have you ever tried the Zagora leek.  This Bulgarian giant variety has become my favourite leek.  It produces a long slender white stalk nearly 50cm tall.

Leek – Zagora from the Zagorian mountains – Zagora (greenvegetableseeds.com)

 

How to grow celery and celeriac?

Mid March is a good time to sow the seeds.  I broadcast the seeds in a pot (about 20 seeds in a 9cm pot) and then prick them out individually into modules about 4-5 weeks after.  After a further 4 weeks in modules, they are ready to be planted outdoors. Celery – Victoria F1 is still the best and most reliable variety with delicious crunchy dark green stems.

 

 

Black Mashua tubers for sale (Tropaeolum tuberosum)

 

This is definitely one of the easiest of the Inca tubers and also a very pretty plant. This black mashua is a real rarity and only we only have a few tubers available. It is related to the common garden nasturtium.  Mashua is native to the Andean region of Peru and Bolivia and grows where the soil is too poor and wet for potatoes.

You’ll get 3 average sized tubers (or 7 mini tubers).  On arrival, immediately plant individual tubers in a 9cm pot with potting compost and place the pot in a cold but frost free shed until leaves appear.  As soon as the shoots appear move the pots into the polytunnel and greenhouse.  The plants can be planted out in late April.

Alternatively, the tubers can be planted directly in the ground in early April.

Mashua can either be grown as a climber up a pea frame or as a ground cover plant at a spacing of 30cm each way.  The tubers can be harvested only a couple of weeks after the frost has killed off the leaves (Nov – Dec).  The colour of the tuber varies from cream purple to dark purple.  I only got some dark purple/black tubers in one year.

 

Packet of four tubers – €5.00

Here is the link to the seed shop:

Mashua, Black – Green Vegetable Seeds

 

The black mashua is a very special plant with amazing health benefits.  When I was in Peru a number of years ago – it was the black mashua that was exported to China in large quantities and fetched four times the price of normal mashua tubers.

 

In China it is used to treat colon and prostrate cancer.  It’s high anthocyanin content  apparently keeps cells young and reduces inflammation in the kidneys.  There are many more claims to its amazing health properties.

 

The problem with mashua is that they simply don’t taste good.  I have ruined quite a number of meals by adding a few tubers and I found it difficult to suffer the taste despite its numerous health benefits.  However, I still always grow it as an ornamental plant.

 

After all my giving out about its taste, I set a challenge to a fantastic chef Diane Lefebure and she came up with the most delicious mashua recipe – MASHUA CROQUETTES

 

Recipe from Diane Lefebure

 

Mashua Croquettes

 

300g of Mashua

20g of butter

30g grated parmesan

 

Flour or gluten free flour

Seasonings

Beaten egg

Breadcrumbs or gluten free breadcrumbs

 

 

Boil or steam the Mashua until tender, mash including the skin, add butter, grated parmesan and seasonings, add a small amount of flour at a time until the mixture can be formed into croquettes the size of your choice. Dip in flour, beaten eggs and then breadcrumbs. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. The croquettes can then be baked or shallow fried.

 

 

Upcoming Gardening Courses and Events

 

Talk: Saturday 25th March in Kildare Town Library at 10.30 am

Free event – Growing Vegetables in the Irish Garden with Master Organic Gardener, Klaus Laitenberger – Kildare Town Library, Sat 25 Mar 2023 10:30 – 11:30 (tickettailor.com)

 

Course:  Grow your own healthy vegetables – 1st April 2023

This course is for anyone who is keen to learn how to start a garden.  This is a very practical course and will take place at the wonderful Hydro Allotments near Blarney.

A hands-on course – so bring gardening gear.

Date: Saturday 1st April 2023

Venue: Hydro Allotments, Blarney, Co. Cork

Contact: Zwena on 087 2333183

 

 

Course:  Growing in Polytunnels – 15th April 2023

This course is for anyone who considers buying a polytunnel or greenhouse or who already has one.  Polytunnel growing is far more productive and reliable than outdoor production.  Instead of just getting one crop outdoors you could get up to four crops per year in one space.  The course includes crop planning, detailed guidelines on growing a variety of crops, crop rotations and other practical aspects e.g. types of tunnels or greenhouses, ventilation, watering, pest and disease prevention and general management.

Date: Saturday 15th April 2023

Venue: Mayo Abbey Training Centre, Co. Mayo

Contact: training@mayoabbey.ie or 094 9365987

 

Talk: Ardcarne Garden Centres in Boyle and Roscommon – 16th April 2023

Contact Mary Frances on 071 9667091 for more details

 

Course:  Grow your own vegetables – 29th April 2023

This course is for anyone who is keen to learn how to start a garden.  It’s a complete beginners course.  This is a very practical course where we will convert a lawn into a vegetable plot by using various techniques including the popular “No-Dig Gardening Method”.

We will also start a Huegelbed – another unique method of creating a space for vegetables as well as using up woody materials.

A hands-on course – so bring gardening gear.

Date: Saturday 29th April 2023

Venue: Mayo Abbey Training Centre,

Contact: training@mayoabbey.ie or 094 9365987

 

Happy Gardening,

 

Klaus