May Newsletter

Delay Planting Your Vegetables Until The Weather Is Warmer

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

We had such a wonderful spring followed by a return of winter in the last couple of days. This weather can even confuse your vegetables. If you have sown or planted certain crops quite early in the year, they may have felt the summer’s heat in the middle of April, followed by winter at the end of April and then hopefully summer again in May.

Some plants, especially onions, beetroot, chard and perpetual spinach will react by bolting (going to seed prematurely). The reason for that is that they are biennial – that means that they have a lifecycle of two years. In the first year they grow and produce a storage organ and in the second year they produce flowers and seeds. The trigger for them to think that a winter has passed is a prolonged spell of cold weather preceded and followed by warmer weather.

We’ll always be safer if we delay sowing or planting most crops. I know it’s so difficult not to be tempted if the weather is as glorious as it was in the last few weeks.

Weather forecast:

Remember the old saying: “Ash before oak you’re in for a soak and oak before ash you’re in for a splash”. Last year the oak leaves were out well before the ash leaves and this meant that we had a wonderful summer with only a few splashes of rain. Apparently it was the first time since 1995 that the oak came before the ash. This year it’s a close race. I have seen a few sheltered ash and oak out, but couldn’t decide on a winner. Let’s hope it will be the oak again!


Growing in tunnels or greenhouses

With our unpredictable weather and short growing seasons a polytunnel or greenhouse must be every gardener’s dream. We can grow the most delicious tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers and many other vegetables that cannot be grown outdoors in Ireland as well as the possibility of extending the growing season for many other vegetables. A tunnel or greenhouse is also excellent for starting off your seedlings instead of having to buy them in. Even early in the year with the sun shines through the plastic or glass you could imagine being on holidays. Polytunnels have become quite affordable in recent years and the returns from your crops will generally pay for the tunnel within a year or two.


Course: Growing in Polytunnels and Greenhouses

There are still a couple of spaces left for the course at our place in Leitrim on Saturday 9th May 2015. The course will include:

Selecting a tunnel or greenhouse and suppliers

Ground preparation and the the iomportance of maintaining soil fertility

Planning and rotation

Sowing and plant maintenance

Practical tips: side shooting tomatoes and cucumbers, pruning

Preventing pests and diseases

The cost is €65 for the day and includes a home cooked lunch.

For more information contact us on:



News updates:

RoundUp Could Be Carcinogenic & Banned

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classed glyphosate – the main ingredient in the world’s best selling weedkiller ‘Round Up’ as carcinogenic. For many decades this weedkiller was used almost carelessly all over the world. Every time you see ugly brown dying patches of grass on the road side it’s most likely Round Up. In the past glyphosate has been linked with numerous health problems (see the links below). Obviously Monsanto – the manufacturer is denying any health problems associated with this product.

The Dutch have reacted quickly – they banned the use of Round Up. France and Brazil are likely to follow soon. It’s very unlikely that the use of this weedkiller will be banned in Ireland, but I hope that its use will be limited and more care should be taken. Teagasc – the agricultural advisory body – is still recommending that farmers spray their fields with Round Up instead of ploughing it before re-seeding.

Let’s hope that schools, landscapers and county council will ban carcinogenic weedkillers especially if there are children nearby


A local tree liberator

It’s very important to check your tree ties regularly. Trees soon outgrow their ties and get strangled or asphyxiated. Just behind the bark of a tree there is the cambium where the water and nutrients go up and down supplying the tree with everything it needs. If the tree tie is too tight the tree will suffer and eventually die unless someone cuts it off.

There is a Polish woman in Co. Roscommon – Zofia – who liberates trees. Everywhere she goes she cuts off tree ties that threaten to strangle trees. She always has her small pocket knife with her. What a great karma she must get! She also wrote to all agricultural departments, councils etc to raise awareness of this issue, but so far with little luck.

So, why not join her efforts. Keep a knife in your pocket and anytime you see a tree being strangled by a tie – please liberate it.

I wish you all a wonderful May.