September Newslstter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

Welcome to the September Newsletter.

In September we often have the best weather and the harvest is even more abundant. We probably had the most terrible summer here in Leitrim.  The tomatoes only started to ripen in the middle of August – about 6 weeks later than usual.  At least they are giving us a bountiful crop now.  We have tomato soup every day and also freeze them.  As Tanguy suggested in the Irish Garden magazine – we freeze them whole in a tray.

Broad beans and early peas are likely to be finished by now.  You can either pull out the crop or cut them off at ground level to keep the nitrogen they have fixed in the ground. I don’t think it makes a big difference as you just move the nitrogen into the compost and at a later stage spread it out in the garden again. You can now sow an overwintering green manure crop such as grazing rye/vetch mix or field beans (only towards the end of the month).


The only crops you can still sow in September are the hardy winter salads.  There is a large range of them available.  My favourites ones are salad rocket, wild rocket,  mizuna, mustard ‘Red Frills’, ‘Green Frills’ and ‘Green Wave’, pak choy, claytonia, tatsoi and corn salad.


You can plant out lettuce (they may not fully mature), scallions, turnips, annual spinach, spring cabbage and all your winter salads.  Over-wintering onion sets can also be planted now.


You can still harvest early carrots beetroot, dwarf French beans, runner beans, cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, courgettes, marrow, kohlrabi, lettuce, scallions, peas, early potatoes, radish, spinach, chard and turnips.   New vegetables to harvest this month are kale and leeks. If you haven’t harvested your onions yet, do so now.  We’ll probably get a few nice days in September for drying them.  Leave them outdoors until the rains start again and then move them into a very well ventilated shed or tunnel and dry them on a rack or pallet.  If you are growing sweetcorn you should check the cobs now.  Just lift the husk a little bit and see if the kernels have turned yellow.


Is industrial agriculture the future for Ireland?

I just wonder how farmers were fooled into increased milk production.  I feel sorry for the ones that invested a lot of money into this, but really – wasn’t it obvious that when the milk quota disappeared that there will be overproduction of milk and of course a collapse in price.   It will lead to small dairy farmers going out of business and the larger farmers to become even bigger and earn even less money.

There is a good alternative: It’s organic farming!

Lots of farmers are realising this great opportunity.  For the first time ever Organic Farming is booming.  There are over 500 new organic farmers that have joined up earlier this year.

The reason for converting to organic farming was that conventional farming didn’t make sense any longer.  Farmers were spending a fortune on artificial fertiliser (which is so destructive to soil life), on feed (often coming from cut down rainforest areas) and veterinary bills.  When they did the sums at the end of the year they were lucky to break even.  All these inputs generated higher production – more livestock per hectare and the farmers lived only on their subsidies.

Here comes the irony: When converting to organic farming a farmer generally reduces the stocking rate and thus the sales figures drop.  But there is no cost in artificial fertilisers and when the stocking rate is reduced most feed can come from the farmers own holding (hay or silage) and veterinary bills will reduce dramatically.  This is due to lower animal numbers as well as greater diversity in grasses and herbs in the fields once fertilisers are no longer used.

An organic farmer will actually make some profit because the costs are dramatically reduced.  The only cost for many farmers is straw for bedding (organic cattle have to be well bedded).

Apart from the increased profitability there are also very attractive conversion payments available from the Department of Agriculture.  In the first 2 years a farmer will get an additional €220/ha and in years 3-5 an additional €170/ha.  To top it all the Department also launched a Capital Grant Scheme for organic farmers where organic farmers can get a 40% grant on capital investments.

Now can anyone please explain to me why not every Irish farmer has converted to organic production?  The facts are there and it makes financial and environmental sense but still Ireland is the country with the lowest percentage of organically farmed land in the EU.  It used to be just over 1% of agricultural area – maybe it has gone up to 1.5% now with the recent increase.


Have a look at the article below by Oliver Moore:

“Ireland’s Next Big Bubble: Milk”



At the moment I’m reading a wonderful book by Satish Kumar: “Soil, Soul and Society – a new trilogy for our time”.

The following is an excerpt of the book:

He (Satish) reckons that Gandhi should be our mentor for the movement for sustainability working towards a just and peaceful future.  Once Mahatma was asked, ‘Mr Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilisation?’ Gandhi replied,  ‘I think it would  be a good idea.’  He replied thus because so-called Western civilisation is built on violence, aggression, exploitation of nature and people, competition and control.  A civilisation that can put animals in factory farms and treat them in a cruel manner cannot be called civilised.  A society that can devastate rainforests (mainly for our animal feed) to produce more and more food and then waste a large part of it cannot be called civilised. A society that can tolerate one third of its population to be without food, shelter education or medicine cannot be called civilised.


To me, Satish Kumar is one of the greatest inspirational and influential personalities.  His extraordinary life is summarised in his autobiography: No Destination

Have a look at his Ted Talk by clicking on the link below.




I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed

Against the Earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy palms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.


Joyce Kilmer



Roundup update:

One of the worst applications of roundup and other weedkillers is spraying and killing off a growing crop just before harvesting.  The fancy term is desiccation.

The text below is from Wikipedia showing all the great benefits of spraying a growing crop with a possible carcinogenic (glyphosate – a weedkiller) shortly before harvesting.  There is no warning on the tin!

“Pre-harvest crop desiccation (also siccation[1] ) refers to the application of a herbicide to a crop shortly before harvest.[2] Herbicides used include glyphosatediquat and glufosinate.[2] For potatoes, carfentrazone-ethyl is used.[3]Other desiccants are cyanamidecinidon-ethyl, and pyraflufen-ethyl.[4][5][unreliable source?] Uneven crop growth is a problem in northern climates during wet summers or when weed control is poor and several of advantages of desiccation have been cited: More even ripening is achieved and harvest can be conducted earlier; weed control is initiated for a future crop; earlier ripening allows for earlier replanting; desiccation reduces green material in the harvest putting less strain on harvesting machinery.[2] Some crop may be mechanically destroyed when crop desiccation machinery moves through the field.”

This is done for the following crops:

  • Maize
  • Barley, wheat, oats
  • Oilseed rape
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Sunflowers
  • Cotton


Ever wondered why we have glyphosate in our bodies.  Glyphosate has been found in people’s urine, blood and even breast milk.  Have a look at the website below:

Has anyone asked why so many people have developed intolerances to wheat if that’s the treatment it gets?