|Dear Fellow Gardeners,
I can’t believe it’s already September. Since we got back from holidays a couple of weeks ago it hasn’t stopped raining. Lough Melvin is already as high as in winter. However, there is always the Indian summer to look forward to. In old German it is called the Altweibersommer (Old Wife’s Summer) –I’m not quite sure why?
In this newsletter you’ll find the following:
– What to do in September
– Ash dieback
– Gardening Courses and Events
– A trip of a lifetime to Peru
What to do in September?
In September we often have the best weather and the harvest is even more abundant.
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.
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). You could also still sow phacelia – it will grow quite well until a hard frost will kill of the growth and you can leave it on the ground over the winter as a mulch.
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’ and ‘Green Frills’ and ‘Bloody Mary”, pak choy (JoiChoi F1), claytonia and corn salad. You can also still sow dill, coriander and chervil.
They are best multi-sown in modular cell trays about 5 to 7 seeds per cell and can be planted out 3 to 4 weeks later.
In a polytunnel or greenhouse these crops will produce until next March and the quality is generally better than if sown earlier. They seem to love the Irish winter. In a tunnel you also still sow annual spinach and perpetual spinach.
If you grow them outdoors I would recommend placing a bionet cloche over the bed. This keeps the plants cleaner (from water splash) and less wind battered. They are hardy thought to up to minus 10°C.
Seeds are available on www.greenvegetableseeds.com
You can plant out lettuce, scallions, turnips, annual spinach, spring cabbage and all your winter salads. Over-wintering onion sets can 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 it’s high time. If you have attempted to grow sweetcorn you should check the
cobs now. Just lift the husk a little bit and see if the kernels have turned yellow.
If you have maincrop carrots, maincrop beetroot and potatoes for storage wait at least until the third week of September or better even later. For winter storage the skins have to be hardened and mature. All root crops can be stored in boxes with layers of sand or soil in a cool frost free shed until the following April.
We have all heard about ash die-back for a number of years. It came to Ireland about 7 years ago as a result of planting infected trees that were imported. Leitrim had the first reports of this disease and the Department of Agriculture tried to stop the spread through eradication and confinement programmes.
Unfortunately they failed – and I think they have given up now.
Ash dieback is caused by a fungus (Hymenoschyphus pseudoalbidus). It blocks the water transport in trees which causes leaf loss, lesions in the bark and dieback of the crown.
Ash dieback has spread throughout the whole country. In my job as an Organic Trust inspector, I travel throughout the whole country and I noticed that the disease is everywhere.
My guess is that over 50% of all ash trees have already been affected.
Not many people seem to be aware of this devastation. When I show it to farmers they are often unaware and shocked.
What it means is that nearly all ash trees will disappear in Ireland, just like the elms did a few decades ago. The ash is our most common native tree and I couldn’t even guess how many millions of ash trees there are in Ireland. The thought that probably 95% of them will be gone is beyond my imagination, but unfortunately this is the reality.
We should mourn the extinction of Fraxinus excelsior – our native ash. The trees die slowly, they drop leaves, shed branches, roots die back and yet they keep clinging onto life but eventually they succumb. Young trees die quickly when affected while older trees take longer to die.
.Ash die-back has wiped out nearly all ash trees in Eastern and Central Europe. It started in 1992 in Poland and from then on moved westwards. Why the Department of Agriculture simply didn’t stop any foreign imports of ash trees when they heard about the European spread of the disease is baffling. Even the National Road’s Authority is to be blamed – as they still planted imported ash trees at the same time as the Department started the eradication programme.
Now it’s too late – no eradication programme could ever work.
Why is nobody talking about this major environmental disaster?
The environmental, economic and also cultural effects of wiping out this species are monumental. We point our fingers to the forest fires in Brazil and Bolivia – burning down the lungs of the Earth, but yet quietly ignore the death of our own carbon sinks – our millions of ash trees that will leave us within a couple of decades.
We urgently need to plant more broad leaf trees in our landscape. Farmers should be made aware of the problem and incentivised to plant alternative trees.
If Ireland takes climate change measures seriously – this should be number of their agenda.
Gardening Courses and Events
Date: Saturday 7th September 2019
Venue: Featherfield Farm, Lullymore, Co. Kildare
Course: Complete Gardening Course with Klaus Laitenberger
This course is suited for anyone who plans to start a food garden. Heated classroom sessions on crop planning, rotations and tips on which crops are best suited for the small garden.
All courses begin at 9:30am tea/coffee. 10am course start. 11:30am tea/coffee. 1:30pm light lunch of soups & breads. Courses finish at 4:30pm with tea/coffee. Facilities include parking, toilets, heated classroom & farm shop.
To book phone 045 903100, 087 624 0811.
Date: Saturday 14th September – Sunday 15th September 2019
Venue: Ourganic Gardens, Co. Donegal
Course: Complete Organic Gardening Weekend with Klaus Laitenberger
Contact: Joanne Butler 087 1789971 or email: [email protected]
Date: Saturday 21st September 2019
Venue: Dalkey Garden School
Course: Winter Vegetable Gardening
Contact: Annmarie 087 2256365
Date: Saturday 28st September 2019
Course: Grow your own organic vegetables
Contact: Mary Marsden email: [email protected]
Date: 18th – 20th October 2019
Gardening Weekend at Renvyle House Hotel in Connemara
With: Anja Gohlke (Head Gardener Kylemore Abbey), Shirley Lanigan (Garden Writer) and Klaus Laitenberger
Book early to avoid disappointment.
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 095 46100
There will be talks and workshops on organic vegetable, fruit and herb growing by myself, a tour and workshop with Anja at Kylemore Abbey Gardens and Shirley Lanigan will give a talk on Saturday evening on:
‘The West’s Awake – How the gardens of Connaught and the western seaboard have blossomed in recent years.’
Date: Tuesday 5th Nov – Wednesday 6th Nov 2019
Venue: Midland’s Park Hotel, Portlaoise
Bio-Farm 2019 – Ireland’s Second Biological Farming Conference.
Early booking is essential as last year’s conference sold out very quickly. Have a look at www.nots.ie or contact Sean on [email protected]
Last year I spent a couple of wonderful weeks with Douglas and his wife Marivel and Juan (a local agronomist) in the Highlands of Peru – they were so generous with their time and contacts with local farmers who still grow these ancient Inca crops. That’s where the idea of an Agricultural and Cultural Tour in Peru started. It really is a trip of a lifetime and certainly was the highlight of my trip.