October Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

Even if it doesn’t feel like it yet – autumn is fast approaching.  The leaves on the trees are changing colour and the days are getting noticeably shorter.  We had such a wonderful year so maybe we get a wonderful autumn as well.  Usually as soon as the leaves change colour we’ll get a strong gale and the leaves are knocked off the trees.  It could be amazing though.

Time to prepare for winter

Please don’t listen to the old tale that you should dig over your garden, spread compost or manure and leave it rough over the winter.  Then the freezing and thawing will break the sods and you’ll have a lovely friable soil in spring.

This actually works well in Germany and other parts of the world where you get cold winters.  In Ireland it’s very rare that we get daily frosts in winter.  Instead we get rain – a lot of it and the more it rains the more plant nutrients are being washed away causing environmental problems.  Also because it doesn’t get cold enough the weeds will keep growing.

There are a few better options:

a)      You can do the above – autumn digging and spreading compost or manure – but then cover the plot with black plastic.  This will prevent the nutrients from being washed away and will also prevent your soil from becoming saturated.  When you lift the plastic in spring, remove the slugs and snails that stick to the plastic and you are ready!  A little bit of raking and levelling and you are ready to sow or plant your first crops into weed free ground.

b)      If you don’t fancy too much hard work at this time of year – take your family to the beach and collect washed up seaweed, as much as you can.  Spread it thickly (6inches) onto cleared beds.  There is no need to dig or weed beforehand if it’s spread thick enough.

c)      The third option is to sow a green manure crop.  The growing crops will make use of the available nutrients and grow throughout the winter months.  In early spring the green manure crop is cut or hoed off and a bit late dug into the soil.  Then they release the nutrients again and they will become available for the next crop.  Suitable green manures include winter field beans (similar to broad beans) and grazing rye/winter vetch mix.  It’s now too late to sow phacelia or buckwheat.

d)      A last option, but not the best, is to abandon your garden and come back to it in late winter (February- early March) and start digging then.  This is definitely a better strategy than digging in autumn.


Upcoming Gardening Courses

Title: Growing your own food

Sunday 2nd November 2014:  Inagh, Co. Clare

For booking contact: Sinead 087 9537597 or email: growinagh@hotmail.com

Cost: €65 including lunch



I will also teach a series of gardening day courses throughout Ireland through NOTS (the National Organic Training Skillsnet).

Title:  Growing in Polytunnels – Winter Cropping

22nd November 2014: Grangebeg Camphill Community, Co Kildare

23rd November 2014: Community Allotments, Blarney, Co. Cork

29th November 2014: The Garden House, Malahide, Dublin

30th November 2014: Springmount Garden Centre, Gorey, Co. Wexford

6th December 2014: Ardcarne Garden Centre, Boyle, Co. Roscommon


All courses cost €30 per day (not including lunch).  There are free places available for the unemployed.

For more information call: 071 9640688 or 086 1728442 or email info@nots.ie





Courses with NOTS

National Organic Training Skillnet (NOTS) Training Programme 2014


Raising Poultry and Eggs on Pasture; 1 day course will cover all aspects of poultry and egg production all the way through to processing. Trainees will be able to see, first-hand the housing and equipment best suitable for poultry production and processing. Course will take place on bank holiday Monday 27th October in  Athenry, Co Galway.  The cost is €40.00p/p, start time is 11 am- 4pm.  Lunch is NOT provided. (Free limited places available for the unemployed)


The Organic Option and CAP post 2014/2015: If you are an existing organic farmer or thinking of converting to organic farming and are wondering what your options are once REPS has closed then these information sessions will provide you with clear and concise information on your options: The agenda on the night will cover the following topics:

  • Where is the market,
  • How to again entry into the organic sector,
  • What supports available to farmers,
  • The new GLAS scheme,
  • The limitations of the sector,
  • Rare breeds.

The events will take place in the following locations between 7pm and 10pm, entrance is FREE

  • 17th of November in The Landmark Hotel, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
  • 18th of November in The Horse and Jockey, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
  • 19th of November in The Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore, Co Offaly.


1 day introduction to Ice Cream production course Monday the 11th November10 am -5pm with Linnalla Pure Irish Ice Cream. Places are €50 per person which includes a light lunch (limited free places for the unemployed) if you would like more information or to book a place please email info@nots.ie or call 0719640688   Course take place in New Quay, The Burren, Co.Clare.  http://www.linnallaicecream.ie/

Plant Nutrition John Hogan (agronomist) will provide a masterclass in understanding and methods to increase plant nutrition; Cost €50 Location Birr Co Offaly on October 21st 18th 10 am -5pm

Varieties and Crop Planning for Field scale and Cover Crops.

John Hogan will provide a Masterclass on selecting best varieties & crop planning for Field scale vegetable growing and for cover crops Cost €50 Location Birr, Co Offaly on November 18th 10 am -5pm

Certificate in Organic Horticulture Distance Learning This 2 year course in horticulture will be delivered via Distance Learning, 4 Modules are taken each year, commencing in October 2014. For full details visit http://organiccollege.com/distance-learning/ Cost €600

Soft Cheese making and Kefir Production, Hans Wieland (ex-cheese maker now teaching cheese making) the course will involve a practical element where participants will have the opportunity to produce fresh cheese samples to take home. Course location Cliffoney, Co Sligo. Date October 16th 10 am -5pm Cost €50 (cheese starter kits can be bought for an additional €12/kit

Introduction To Meat processing Master Butcher Joe Hayes will deliver a 2 day course on understanding what is involved in processing a meat carcases, How to calculate out meat yield / per carcase, what are the hidden cost. What are the different cuts? Cost €100, Location NBA, Ballinasloe Co Galway on Thursday 13th & 20th November (suitable for farmers who want to direct sell and understand meat yield). (Free places for the unemployed.

Winter Growing in Polytunnels Klaus Laitenberger will deliver a series of 1 day introductory programmes on growing winter vegetables, in locations in Kildare on the November 22nd, Blarney,  Co Cork 23rd/11/2014 , Dublin 29th/11/2014, Wexford 30th/11/2014, 6th of December in Co Roscommon.  Cost €30 (free places for the unemployed) Lunch not Included

Conversion to Organic Farming 25 hour course on what’s involved in converting to organic farming, This course is QQI certified and is a requirement to access the organic farming scheme, Cost €220, Location is based on demand and can be run anywhere in the country, Next course planned for early December 2014

An Introduction to Coppice Silviculture and Related Craft  4 day course in Sligo delivered by Muintuir na Coille on the history, ecology, uses and techniques in Coppice woodland management, Includes practical session and field trips, Cost €228 Lunch not included; date 21st to 24th of October.

The Business of Staying in Business – Step back, review and analyse all aspects of your business, you will also take a look at new and fresh ideas. Course: over 3 consecutive days. Dates: September 17th, 18th, 19th. Price €556.00


All Course need to be pre booked.

To book or discuss training or mentoring requirements, please contact National Organic Training Skillnet (NOTS) on 0719640688 or 086 1728442 or email info@nots.ie or check out www.nots.ie for further details.


Courses will only proceed subject to sufficient demand, Course will require minimum attendance hence may be cancelled due to insufficient demand. Courses can be booked or purchased online at www.nots.ie.


Postal Address: National Organic Training Skillnet, The Enterprise Centre, Hill Rd, Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim