May Gardening Newsletter 2019

Dear Fellow Gardeners,
May is definitely the busiest month in your vegetable garden and hopefully you have managed to do all the other jobs such as bed preparation in the previous months. The soil has warmed up sufficiently to sow and plant nearly all vegetables. So make sure you take time off in May so that you can spend your days in the garden! Finish preparing the beds and keep the hoe and rake moving over them. Watch out for late frosts and have some horticultural fleece handy to cover your potatoes if needed.

Outdoor sowing:
In the first half of May you can sow early beetroot, early carrots, parsnips, perpetual spinach, annual spinach, chard, radish, turnip, peas and runner beans directly into the ground.
Towards the end of the month you can sow maincrop carrots and beetroot and any crops you didn’t manage to sow at the beginning of the month.
Indoor sowing:
In May you can still sow the following vegetables into modular trays: winter cabbages, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, kale, kohlrabi, swede, turnip, lettuce, scallions, spinach and chard.
If you haven’t sown courgettes, pumpkins, squash, runner beans and sweetcorn yet you can still do so at the first half of the month.
Towards the end of the month you can sow Florence fennel and Chinese cabbage.
You can plant out the crops you sowed in the previous month: the first batch of leeks, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, kohlrabi, rocket, swede, turnip, lettuce, perpetual spinach, chard, annual spinach and scallions.
Towards the end of the month you may be able to harvest some oriental salads, radish, turnips and annual spinach.
Pest watch
Don’t forget to keep a check on your plants especially the seedlings outside. This is the time when they are most vulnerable to a slug attack. You also need to be wary of leatherjackets, the larva of the daddy-longlegs. They can be a terror during this month especially on newly planted lettuce. If a small lettuce suddenly dies, it was probably eaten by a leatherjacket. They actually just bite through the stem of the young plants. If you don’t find the culprit in the soil it will move on to the next plant.
If you had carrot root fly in previous years it is nearly essential that you cover the early sown carrots with a bionet.
May is the most exciting month in your tunnel or greenhouse. This is the time to plant out your summer crops – your tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers and basil.
Take good care of them and give them a fabulous soil and they will reward you with a bounty of delicious sun-ripened fruit. Once the busy spell of planting is over you can start to relax again.

Featherfield Organic Farm
I’m really proud to see my son Julian managing this wonderful organic farm in Kildare. Featherfield Farm is located in the in the bogs of Lullymore in Co. Kildare. Lullymore boasts some very fertile land surrounded by deep bogs, giving it the name “Lullymore Island”.
Together with the owners Mark and Alison, he is developing this unique land into a sustainable but yet productive farm producing the most delicious grass fed Dexter beef, lamb, and poultry meat as well as organic eggs. They also grow all their vegetables and herbs in a purpose built walled garden.
Featherfield Farm will shortly be opening their doors to the wider community by launching their new courses. I’m hosting their first course there on 10th and 11th May. The farm is now home to a beautiful cottage vegetable garden complete with polytunnel, fruit-cage, raised beds, hugel beds, composting bins and pond. There will be other courses throughout the summer, bee keeping, poultry keeping, growing flowers for flower arranging to name but a few. Their new education enterprise boasts a state of the art classroom and shop, where they sell their produce direct to the public. Please check out their website, or contact Julian directly on 0876240811.
facebook @farmfeatherfield
instagram @featherfield_farm

Organic Ireland?
With all the sad and terrible news throughout the world at the moment, it’s sometimes difficult to be positive. But here is a positive good-news story – Organic Sikkim. Sikkim is a state in north-east India that has decided to become 100% organic. The governments helps farmers to convert and gives advice and financial support and more importantly – it provides a vision for a clean, sustainable food production system that supports farmers as well as the the environment.
I think we should start a campaign of a 100% organic Ireland. We could do a pilot study in Leitrim first! Here I go again – but sometimes dreams come first. Can you imagine what an amazing tourist destination this would become?
I have to put a spanner in the works though – in Ireland we have only 2% of all land farmed organically and we are still the lowest in the EU. There is a long way to go.

Gardening Courses and Events

Date: Thursday 2nd May 2019
Venue: Bantry, Co. Cork
Course: Grow your own organic vegetabls
There are still a few spaces left – contact Colman Whelton for booking details on 087

Date: Saturday 4th – Monday 6th May 2019
Venue: Tullycross, Connemara, Co. Galway
Connemara Mussel Festival
This is such an amazing weekend – packed full of food, history, music and art and I will do a demonstration on how people grew potatoes in the 1800’s on the Saturday and Sunday at 4pm.

Date: Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May 2019
Venue: Featherfield Farm, Lullymore, Co. Kildare (Contact Julian 087 6240811)
Course: 2-day Complete Gardening Course
Cost: €190 for two days and includes light lunches and coffee
I’m very excited about this course and a little partial. My son Julian is managing this unique and beautiful mixed organic farm owned by Mark and Alison Hurst. They keep native Dexter cows, sheep, laying hens and all sorts of other feathered fowl. The course coincides with the official opening of their new classroom and launch of lots more exciting courses on all things organic.
Contact: Julian at or 087 6240811

Date: 12th May 2019
Venue: The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim (Tel: 0719854338)
Course: Profitable Polytunnel Growing
Profitable Polytunnel Growing WITH KLAUS LAITENBERGER
This course is for anyone who considers making a small income from their garden. Polytunnel production is far more productive than outdoor production. Instead of just producing one crop outdoors you could get up to 5 times the amount of crop. The course includes crop planning, recommendations on high value crops and varieties, crop rotations, selling produce, soil fertility, and other practical aspects eg types of tunnels, ventilation, pest and disease control and general management.

Date: Saturday 8th June 2019
Venue: Walled Garden near Belfast
Course: Organic Garden in the summer and Organic Pest, Disease and Weed Control

Date: Friday 14th – Sunday 16th June 2019
Venue: Renvyle House Hotel, Connemara, Co. Galway
Wild Atlantic Food Festival
I’m so looking forward to going back to our favourite hotel in Ireland for this event. Sally and John McKenna, Tim O’Sullivan and Michael Gibbons and many others will give talks, presentations and workshops. I will give a gardening demonstration and be part of a question and answer session. Book early as tickets may sell quickly.