Sunday, May 30, 2010

First Fresh Food, First Recipe

Well, I figured it was finally time to get some fresh food out of the Garden. That's tricky considering none of the veg have yet grown.
With my work I have seen a lot of the world, and eaten some fairly unusual and varied things, so I'm pretty omnivorous and open to new ideas when it comes to food. So, that and five years in a boarding school must be taken into account considering none of the vegetables are yet ready to eat, but you gotta eat something.
The Corn Wolf - there is a reason for the picture, all will be revealed

In the onion and carrot bed there were also turnips. After a false start due to frost, the surviving Purple Top Milan were transplanted.
They have done very well and got very leafy in recent weeks.

Because of limited space and to ensure sunlight to the Rocket and Kohlrabi I decided to trim back some of the Milan leaves. I am not overly concerned about taking the Milan's leaves as they have proved themselves very hardy, and are meant to be a small turnip.
They are not a heritage variety, which get priority in my garden.

I was removing some leaves for space and sunlight, but most people harvesting turnip in my experience throw away the turnip leaves, as with cauliflower.

I feel I am getting twice the value from the crop, that was grown from seed anyway.

Rather than discard or compost the leaves I started looking at recipes on the Internet.
Turnip leaves are quite a common ingredient in several countries, and using that in combination with other tastes and flavours I have come across with my work overseas, I decided to give it a go.
Fresh from the fields

Turnip leaves are a staple of the southern states in the US, where - along with Kale, Mustard Greens and other brassica leaves - where they are known as Collard greens.

This came as a bit of a surprise, although I had wondered what collard greens were, we hear the term so often in films.
Biting into a raw turnip leaf is quite a bitter, unpleasant taste, but after cooking I found them surprisingly mild, milder than cabbage, and less bitter than spinach.

Collards is a corruption of the word Coleworts, Anglo-Saxon literally meaning cabbage plants.
The origin of the word explains why Kool is the Dutch for Cabbage, Kool Wort in Dutch would translate as Cabbage root.

Dutch is quite an onomatopoeic language, a Dutch staple, Stamppot, literally means Stamp pot or mash pot, not unlike the Irish Colcannon which is normally served with bacon or corned beef, or Scottish Neaps and Tatties traditionally served with haggis.

Stamppot in Holland is normally boiled potato mashed with finely shredded endive served with Rookwurst, a delicate, delicious smoked sausage

Sometimes diced bacon or apple is mixed through the veg mix.
The meal is sometimes served with zuurkool - the Dutch version of Germany's sauerkraut or French choucroute, and my favorite type - a red cabbage zuurkool with apples.

Another influence are Russian potato Blini - a type of potato pancake served with smoked fish, caviar, Blutwurst type sausage, salami and other strong flavours.

With the combinations of dry, strong, spiced, salty type meats, I went for the mild spiciness of Black Pudding offset by the sweetness an apple and leek sauce.

In my honest opinion, the very best Black pudding you can get in Ireland is, without a doubt, from McGeoughs of Oughterard, Connemara, Galway.
Its real artisan food, its not for nothing they have won, among other things, the Checkout Magazine Award for Best Specialist Offering, Artisan of the Year Award from Bridgestone Food Guide, Supreme Champion of Ireland for their Sausage and Ballygowan Awards from the Food Writers Guild, Ireland - and the list goes on.
Failing that, the mass produced Clonakilty types and Shaws are both, quite a distant, second choice.

Then the mild, creamy mixed veg mash contrast with the crisp, salty smoky bacon bits

And so, inspired by the words origin and familiarity, I believe I have created the first Dutch - Irish cullnary fusion, I am certainly claiming I have from this day forth.
Sounds like Basil Fawltys' Finno Japanese veal, but we will give it a shot.

That ain't bad considering neither nation is particularly renowned for cuisine.
Basically its a kind of Irish themed version of a Dutch staple, and its a very economical dish as well.

Sorry bout the pic, food stylist I am not
a new respect for that profession

(Serves 3 hungry lads easy, takes about 25 - 30 minutes depending on the potato's)

1 KG Peeled Potato, cut into smaller pieces to speed up cooking time
400gm Shredded Turnip Greens (or other greenleaf brassica)
150gm bacon, ham or rashers sliced and diced*
Knob of Butter
Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste.

*For a vegetarian version you could substitute some sun dried tomato's, but you would need to adjust the amount.

Again, and I mean this, if your in Galway its worth going to McGeoughs of Oughterard for their smoked hams, dry cure bacon or rashers.

1) Boil Potatoes

2) While these are boiling wash the turnip leaves.
     Remove and discard the central spine, very finely chop the turnip greens.

3) Chop smoked rashers or bacon.

4) When the potato's are nearly cooked, strain and set aside, keep warm

5) Return pot to heat, any remaining water will evaporate quickly, add knob of butter.
You can of course use a separate pot, but I don't see the point of the extra washing-up

6) It wont take long to get up to heat, add bacon and stir-fry until slightly crisped, takes about 2-3 minutes

7) Add greens, stir fry until coated with bacon fat - about 2 minutes, strain off excess oil

8) Add balsamic vinegar, this breaks up the fat, stir through for another minute.
Don't overdo the greens, they will wilt, but you want them al dente - to retain some bite to contrast with the potato.

9) Pour off any excess liquid. Return strained potato's to pot, mash up all ingredients.
Add salt and pepper to taste - GO EASY ON THE SALT, its already in the bacon.

10) Serve dressed with grilled slices of black pudding and apple sauce on the side, a little wholegrain mustard and garnish with chives, parsley etc. from garden

McGeoughs or other good quality Black Pudding, *Apple and Leek Sauce (*see below) on the side and a little wholegrain mustard.

I find this is best as you have the saltiness of the bacon balanced against the sweetness of the sauce, and a good black pudding should be a little spicy.

As an alternative any strong flavor smoked German or Polish Sausage if available, or sliced corned beef.

I would recommend serving with good, strong reds like Merlot from Cimarosa, South Africa or Eaglehawk, Australia which are available and around the €6-8 mark.

Another option is a good Belgian beer like Leffe or La Coufe.

For something fresher and lighter try a Witbier like Hoegarden or - my favorite, if just for the label - the subject of the lead photo, Korenwolf (I told you there was a reason for a worried rodent photo) with a slice of lemon.
This is the same lemon you use to make apple and leek sauce, for which the recipe is further down, so its a good excuse to splash out on a quality beer.

Korenwolf are a tiny rodent in Holland, quite endangered, about the size of our harvest mouse, they climb and eat wheat stalks, so I always found calling something that small a wolf was amusing, I just have a vision in my head of one of them climbing to the top of a blade of wheat, throwing back its head and howling at the moon - lupine fashion, while David Attenborough gives a running commentary.



This can be made in advance and reheated, that gives you about 20 minutes to enjoy a starter with guests.

In the US this is served cold, in Ireland, at least here, we serve it fresh and warm. It is the easiest thing to make, you just need a heavy bottomed pot.

I like a chunky apple sauce, so I just use a whisk to mix the cooked apples.
If you prefer smooth apple sauce, use a food mill, I don't see the point in the extra washing up.
The key is adding a few strips of lemon peel to the apples while cooking.
The lemon heightens the apple flavor.

1 small leek, washed and sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 green cooking apples, peeled cored and chopped
A few strips of lemon rind.
Water to cover.
Knob of butter

1)  Add butter to heavy bottomed pan on medium heat
2) Chuck in and saute leek and garlic until leek is soft
3) Add apples and saute until soft (keep stirring)
4) Add sugar, lemon rind and pour in enough water until about 2/3rds the height of the other ingredients
5) Cover on a medium to low heat for 15 minutes, or until apple is about half dissolved
6) Use a whisk to blend ingredients

Serve warm over pork or black pudding (or baked rodent if that's your kind of thing)

00:00 chopped potato to pot
00:05 Saute leeks & garlic in butter
00:10 Add apple to sauce, saute
00:15 Add sugar, lemon,water to sauce, cover on medium heat
00:20 Drain potato, set aside - keep warm, put pot back on hob, add butter
00:22 Black Pudding to grill
00:23 Stirfry bacon
00:25 Add greens, stirfry
00:27 Add balsamic vinegar if desired, stirfry, turn black pudding
00:28 Pour off any excess liquid. Return potato to pot and mash
00:30 whisk apple and leek sauce -
Plate up, Bed of Stamppot, thin layer of Apple and Leek sauce overlaid with Black Pudding, garnish and mustard to side of plate - serve

Left over Stamppot can be used to make realy nice potato cakes, but I'll do that recipe in another post.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Slug Traps

I spoke before about slugs in active and passive defence measures. One thing I spoke of was beer traps.
Rather than buy dedicated beer traps from a garden centre, its quite easy to make them from empty plastic bottles, cover and all.

Simply cut the bottle in half, on the lower part then cut in little castleations, like a square zig-zag pattern, and after glue back the top of the bottle, you can lace in the cap to improve the bond - and then a dab of superglue and/or a staple.

I also cut and flip out a flap of plastic, this will - one hopes - help keep the rain water, slow evaporation and not allow the beer to overflow or be diluted.

Its cheap, recycles a plastic bottle and it lasts a long time.

The bottle is then placed in the ground in the bed with the openings close to the ground.

The trap is then baited with beer - I am lucky that my local, Coynes bar in Kilkerrin, pour the driptrays into a bottle, which I pick up and use to fill the bottom of the trap.

Its a real mix of beers, stouts and largers, quite pungent.

It gets past the moral dillema of using real beer from a can, but any cheap tin of beer will do.

The smell of the beer attracts the snails who crawl into the trap, and drown, so lets say they die happy.

The beer needs to be relaced on a weekly basis.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Well, just a commando of a ladybird this one. Perhaps it should give up the day job and join the circus - fast little thing. There are nettles in a hedge nearby which they are supposed to like early in the season.

I have not seen any aphids, but this is another welcome visitor to the garden.

There is something appealing about the ladybird, considered in many countries to be a good omen.
I suppose it is their colour, the fact they are harmless to us and eat predators like aphids and scale insects on our flowers and veg that add up in their favour - another good reason for being as organic as possible in the garden.
Kids love them, and for good reason - for an insect they are so terribly bright and cute, and can be handled gently with no worries of bites or stings.

So many people go to such trouble to attract them, or even order them as bio-control, whereas they are plentifull in my garden, that is a delight.

Not so much as the bee, they do have fond associations for peoples of many cultures.

In Irish, the insect is called bo-een Dé - god's little cow.
In Dutch, the ladybird is called lieveheersbeestje, translating to the dear lord's little creature.
I always found the Dutch diminutive at the end of a word - tje - to e appealing, like een at the end of Irish words.
In France it is known as bete a bon dieu, gods good little beast. There, ladybirds are considered to be bringers of good weather - and the French must like them as they don't eat them!!
In Croat it is called Boga ovchicha  - god's little sheep

In Turkey, ladybirds are called the luck bug. When a ladybird lands on children, they make a wish as do American children.

So, my wish this year is to get back on the right track, get back to work - and hope my garden works out well.

And to finish off, some people think ladybirds are not all sweetness and light - here is a great piece of animation from Miniscule - hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mystery Bug

I was wondering what this fella (or girl) is? Saw a purple version as well. They seem to be very docile, not at all quick, and hang around the beans and peas.

Green, leaf shaped flat body with tan brown tail, ankles and eyes.

Turns out it is a 'stink bug' as apparently they are able to produce a pungent odour when threatened.
They are from the 'Pentatomidae' family.

They do suck plant sap from brassicas, squash, peas, beans, corn, tomatoes and peaches causing scarring and dimpling.
However they prey on army worms, cabbage loopers,Colorado potato beetle and Mexican bean beetles - I don't think we have the later two.

They do minimal damage to plants, so its best leave them be.

A nice thought on International Bio-diversity day, and another good reason not to go chemical and stay as organic as possible.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Yellow leaf spud

One of my potato plants leaves are going a wierd yellow-ish patchy colour.
Everything else seems fine.
Is it an illness or a mineral deficiency?

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Fat Baby Acocha., Courgettes, exploding cucumbers and a few other things

Well, been sprouting these in the window sill, and it looks like all 3 have germinated at least one seedling, which is great news for me at least.
Looking forward to getting them in the ground outside.

All three came from the real seed company in Wales.

Acocha is a small South American climbing vine that tastes like Green pepper.
The Latin name may be Cyclanthera pedata, but the folks in Wales are beginning to suspect it is actually Cyclanthera brachyastacha

Cyclanthera explodens is the other one - this is a vine cucumber similar to Acocha, but it explodes to spread its seed. Apparently this happens at the slightest touch - so with any luck it may help to adjust the kittens toilet patterns.

The courgette I have planted is 'White Volunteer' Cousa Courgette, apparently very productive and early, and with such a challenging climate I can only hope it grows well. I think this will need

In addition there will be more trayed lettuce, an attempt at tomato's and more beans and peas,

A second type of bean I will be putting out is Borlotto Firetounge, when dried it becomes a Haricourt for Cassoulet.

There are a few more pea plants to go out - I figured with all the net supports why not just use them to help a few more pea plants. A mix and match of Rondo and Evita.
There are already a few well established plants in the garden, although they have not come to flower yet.

Of course, it is a risk growing tomato and courgette outside, but the Acocha has a hardy reputation - and the exploding cucumber, well, in fairness, how can any mature, sensible and professional man refuse a chance at growing exploding veg?

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bean Worries

OK - So my bean plants have come on leaps and bounds, and the lower flowers are turning black and mushy and dying off.
Not quite sure as to what the problem was so I checked it out by asking at gardenplans Ireland forum (see link on right side panel)

It only seemed to be the lower flower buds, so that seems positve.

Got a very quick reply, from Michael Brenock, a retired horticultural advisor on the forum.
It is normal for the blossoms to turn brown and black as they wither. This happens after pollination has taken place. They have fulfilled their function to attract passing insects.

So thats cool - the bumblebees and myself are pleased at that news

My worry still is that the overhead folliage is a bit squashed due to the bird nets that are there in an attempt to keep the bloody cats out.

Am trying to rig the nets to be better at keeping them out - but they are clever kittens.
Note lower flowers blackened and wilted

Here again, lower flowers wilted and black in comparison with white buds

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A Note on Bee's

To my great joy the bumble bees are enjoying my broad bean flowers.
Later in the year as other vegetables and the hedge fuscia flowers develop, I expect to see a lot more of them and their smaller honey bee cousins.

I have always liked them, and in no way wanted to use a chemical or system that might damage or kill them, it is they who pollinate the flowers and the crops after all - especially important now with reports of bee colonies dying off.

It is for this reason that I have gone to great efforts to ensure whatever pest control measures I use do not adversely affect bees, neither should others as they are the ones who pollinate our crops, we need them.

Bees are entwined in the story of humanity. Despite the fact they can sting us, we regard them affectionately, and they often serve as a symbol for diligence and we admire their social nature.

The Kalahari's San people tell of a bee that carried a mantis across a river.
The exhausted bee left the mantis on a floating flower but planted a seed in the mantis's body before it died.
The seed grew to become the first human.

In Egyptian mythology, bees were born from the tears of Râ, the Sun God, that fell to earth.

The Talmud, Torah, Koran and the Bible all mention the honeybee.

A poster at, Summerday Sands, gave me a great quote from Shakespeare who described bees as "Singing masons, building roofs of gold"
Vishnu is often symbolized as a blue bee on a lotus flower.
Kama, the east Indian god of love, wields a bow with a string of entwined chain of bees.

In Greek mythology, the nymph Melissa cared for the infant Zeus and hid him his father Cronus. She plundered beehives for honey to feed the infant.
When she was discovered, she was turned into an insect. Zeus took pity on her and turned her into a honeybee so she could make honey for eternity - it is from her we get the word Miel - the french for honey

Honey bees, signify immortality and resurrection, and were royal emblems of the Merovingians, a symbol that was revived by Napoleon as Emperor.

In literature, from ancient to modern times, bees have been used as metaphors by Aristotle, Plato, in Virgil and Seneca by Erasmus, Shakespeare and Tolstoy, as well as by social theorists like Mandeville and Marx.


In a recent issue of 'The Journal of Neuroscience' the Bumble Bee (Bombus terrestris dalmatinus), has claimed the distinction of having the fastest colour vision of all animals.
Apparently experiments have shown that they see five times faster than humans.
The speed with which an animal sees depends on how quickly the light-detecting cells in its eye can capture snapshots of the world and send them to their brain.
Bees were found to evaluate colour much faster than anyone else in the animal kingdom.
Their speedy vision enables them to quickly navigate in dappled light, to recognize shapes, such as the entrance to their hive, and particularly to find nectar-bearing, coloured flowers

It was once said that bumblebees could not aerodynamically fly, but this was a faulty analogy between bees and fixed-wing aircraft, i.e - their wings are too small relative to their bodies.

But since then we have figured out they're more like helicopter blades - to be precise, reverse-pitch semi rotary helicopter blades, or a moving airfoil, whether it's a helicopter blade or a bee wing generates a lot more lift than a stationary one.
The question with bees is not so much the aerodynamics, but rather the mechanics:

They have to move their wings 200 beats per second to generate lift, which 10 to 20 times the firing rate of their nervous system.

The trick is that the bee's wing muscles don't expand and contract so much as vibrate.

The nerve impulse twangs the muscle, like a piano chord, and vibrates the wing up and down a few times until the next belt of impulse.

However, I have always preferred simply to believe that bees can fly because no-one ever had the heart to tell them they could not.
Each and every one bumbling around my garden is a perfect Terry Prattchet moment, ridiculous, comical but surprising, sublime and very very welcome.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cool old video

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Organic Pest Control - Passive and Active measures

There is a real temptation, after doing so much work, to revert to Abbot Arnold Amaury's attitude of "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" - Kill them All - God knows the innocent.

Regardless of how tempting it is - theres no real need to go over the top and revert to all out chemical warfare when it comes to defending the garden from pests (even when three kittens you feed are really getting annoying)

Everything in nature serves its purpose, everything has evolved to its place and has its reasons. Not all insects and bugs are pests.
Spiders, ladybirds, bees, worms and may beetles help us in the garden. 

Pest Control

But some, slugs, caterpillars, leatherjackets and others are threats to the veg garden.
I really don't want to use chemicals in the garden, as they will kill helpful or harmless bugs, and can hurt bees and hedgehogs,

I like them and you dont see many hedgehogs out here in the west - not to forget that whatever we spray goes into our food chain.
In actual fact, if the hedgehog hating UK wardens who cull the hedgehogs in Uist in the Outer Hebridies need a place to send them as refugees instead of killing Mrs. Tiggy-winkle and her family every year, they can send them here.
If they can survive Uist, Connemara would be like Hawaii, they are more than welcome as asylum seekers here as they eat slugs and snails so would be an asset.

I also really, really dig bumblebees and dont want to see them harmed - but more about that in another blog.

I can't cover all threats, but there are some that I have already identified.
Slugs and snails have a perfect habitat here with mild, damp weather. I do hope the cold winter may have reduced their numbers.
Daddy Longlegs - or Cranefly - until now I thought harmless, quite likeable creatures, but it turns out their kids are utter delinquents in the veg garden. Their larvae are called leatherjackets and do major damage to roots.
Other problem kids are caterpillars, the larvae of butterflies - already I have seen a lot of a white type with orange tipped wings fluttering around my garden. For help on identification of butterflies see and

The three kittens do try, but have not succeeded in catching any and so it seems to be up to me to sort them out.

There are onion fly and carrot fly, but I believe - and I may be wrong here - that they prey on each other so where I have carrots, I have onions in an attempt to divide and conquer.
The only natural allies I seem to have are dragonflies and spiders, so one hopes they will take up residence in the trellis' and catch some of the butterflies, aphids etc.

This is the term I'd use for something that is not active, not aggressive but a deterrent - like the Swiss army.

In an effort to dissuade slugs from getting into the beds, the pathways have been made of old ash, and a surface of pine needles has been built up around the beds.

Coffee grounds are already recommended as a home remedy for keeping slugs and snails at bay.
Each morning I sprinkle coffee grounds around the paths as well as left over coffee.
Coffee grinds apparently repel slugs because pure caffene is a poison to them and corree has a very bitter taste.
I also do not want to use chemical slug pellets as these can be eaten by hedgehogs and birds. Johnstown garden centre offer a bio alternative to chemical slug pellets as do Irish Seed savers with their ferramol pellets

Another avenue I am looking at is the electrical low voltage system - essentially two copper wires hooked up to a battery. When the snail hits both wires they get a tiny shock which drives them back.
Comercial version of this are relativly expensive, and I dound a length of discarded telephone wire, so I am looking at doing something of that nature in a DIY set-up.

There is also the old fashioned slug trap with beer. Two things put me off this.
One is will a beer trap attract slugs from outside the beds.
Secondly, is it immoral to have beer and not actually drink it yourself?

There are three types of White Butterflies whose larvaes pimary food source are Brassicas - or Crucifers as we should call them in future.

They are: Large White (Pieris brassicae) Small White (Pieris rapae) and Green Veined White (Pieris napi)
They all look quite similar - these pics are all female, and anyone who has seen the Alien movies knows the egg layers are the really dangerous ones.
The good news is that their caterpillars also eat Nasturtium, apparently, planting Nasturtium flowers can distract the buggers.
So I intend to plant some out close to- but away from the cabbage beds. The intention would be to hit the brassicas with liquid derris plus, but not the Nasturtium, causing a distraction at least one would hope.

Well, this makes me worse than Saddam Hussein I guess, I have the capability and I am perfectly happy to use biological and bio-chemical weapons of mass destruction that are at my disposal.

Active measures I would term a more aggresive form of pest control, going out to kill or maim the pests.

Nematodes are new to me - these are the natural parasites of pests that occur naturally in the wild, but by concentrating them in a small area (e.g. the veg patch) we overwelm garden pests.

I have bought my initial batch of nematodes from Mr Midletons - who are one of the best garden suppliers on the Island, and not to disparage them in any way, it was only after I made the purchase online did I find an Irish made product which I will be buying in about 6 weeks. It seems better for the casual gardener.

From Supernemos you can get, online, SuperNemo, an Irish invention. It is a little more expensive than Nemasys - but it kills a wider range of pests.

What I would really like to see from an Irish company like that is a twin-pack containing nematodes for slugs and all the other nasties, hope someone does something like that.

Nemasys / Nemaslug
Biological Warfare - These are parasites that hunt and kill garden pests. I bought them online from Mr Middletons in Dublin

Nemasys is aimed at carrot rot fly, cabbage root fly, leatherjackets,cutworms,onion fly, ants (why?) sciarids, caterpillars,goosebury sawfly, thrips and codling moth.

Nemaslug is aimed at slugs and snails and like Nemasys uses natural parasites in large numbers who hunt and kill slugs.

These products are living organisms, and have a very short shelf life. They must be stored in a fridge, and made up solution cannot be stored.

The standard packets (2xNemasys [14.95]& 1x Nemaslug [17.95]) total cost 32.90 EUR.

I got both types as I wanted a comprehensive program.

But I will try the Irish SuperNemo next time I am due to dose the beds.

From Mr Middleton you can also buy full season programs for each type, which means they post you new nematodes about every 6 weeks - more details on their site.
The main thing about the application of nematodes seems to be never in direct sunlight - i.e. overcast days or evenings, into moist but not waterlogged soil - ensure temp over 10 degs C and thats it, just add the sachet contents to a watering can and spread it around.

Liquid Derris Plus
Chemical Warfare - What I found was Liquid Derris Plus, a bio control spray. This is said to fight off greenfly, blackfly, caterpillars and red spider mite.

This product is dangerous for aquatic life, so if you have a pond cover it up. My only concern in using this is that the old drains nearby are a nice home for frogs (who eat slugs and bugs) so I only sprayed on days that had a few dry days with little or no wind forecast to avoid as much runoff and drift as possible.

Only the beds were sprayed, not the extra ridges as they are very close to the old drains.

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Salad Seedlings and tomato plans- May 18

In the space between slow growing leeks.
I have a pack of mixed lettuce - Iceberg, Cos and Butterhead types, so to start a system where I wont be overwhelmed by lettuce, I simply used an old plant tray and plant a few random seeds each week.
I think I will get a Raddicio lettuce type to add for variety.

They take between 10 and 14 weeks to come to harvest size according to the seed packet.

I spoke about the tomato Costoluto Fiorentino. I read up on tomato and they are similar enough to potato in terms of soil requirements and more importantly desiese control (I can always put in a raised trench of compost or growbag fill later)

The seed sprouted well, and will be put into individual trays to keep growing.
I read online that they should be planted out when they reach a height of 10 -15 cm, at the moment they are about 3 cm high, so its just a question of waiting.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Bed 4 - Turnip, Suede, peas, beans, Oca and other groovey stuff

Bed 4
This one is a real mix, but started out predominantly pulses.
Western Perfection Suede and Tipperary Turnip are Irish heritage varieties that came from Irish seed savers - they do an important job and are worth supporting.
Interspacing the suedes and turnips is Osaka Purple Mustard Green from the Real Seed company in the UK.
They are coming up no problem at all
Also from them are Jaune Obtuse de Doubs, a french heritage yellow carrot and Atika.
Atika is a root parsley that is used a lot in East European dishes, I have it seeded below the old glass panes.


Just beyond the glass is Oka - a South American tuber, tastes like lemon flavour potatoes.
Oca in Ireland
I sourced this from Christophe on Clare Island, at Macalla Farm - very pleasent guy to deal with.
Looking forward to having them at Chrismas.
Here also are the main crop gherkin under glass for the moment.
Just before the glass are two types of French bean from Lidl - Kinghorn wax and Saxa French dwarf bean.
These were sprouted inside and seem to be doing well.
The large bushels at the end are broad bean and peas. The pea variety are a mix of Rondo (main) and Evita (early)

Here also are Kohl Rabi - they seem to be thriving, its an Olivia F1 hybrid
Then at the bottom are a quick crop of Milan Purple top turnip and a few rocket seeds courtesy of the Daily Mail giveaway
The nets are all inplace to try and dissuade three horrid kittens to stop using the place as a toilet, but I really dont know if that is working at the moment

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Bed 3 - Spuds

Spuds, 3 varieties.
In the foreground, the smallest plants, are an English heritage variety called Mr Littles Yentholm Gypsy.
I sourced these as eating potatoes from Carrols heritage potatos, and had them sent on via a friend in the UK - many thanks JJ - your a gent.
I am excited about these, they are rare, can have skin colour of 3 different shades, and may well be the only examples in Ireland. hey are, however, said to be susceptable to blight.

Mr Littles Yetholm Gypsy

I picked up certified seed in Dangan House Garden centre in Newcastle, Galway.
For larger orders wherever you are, or if things are tricky to source see Local organic spud agents Joe Hynes in Galway does Mayo as well - sound bloke.

In the centre of the bed there are Setanta, a new variety in Ireland.
These were chosen as they have been bred to the Irish palet - i.e. flowery with a lot of dry matter, and are meant to be highly blight resistant.
The largest plants in the raised bed are Orla, the early variety. Being an early crop, in theory, means they miss the main blight risk period.
To look at and research other Irish varieties I would suggest a visit to the Irish Potato Marketing website.
Here you can find out more about modern and mainstream Irish varieties. They are among the best in the world at what they do.

Other types that were suggested to me were two new very blight resistant crops from Hungary, Sarpo Mira and Sarpo Axona, but I wanted to stck to Irish types for food miles as much as anything else.

Old fashioned ridge, note rock and how thin soil is

Here we have Kerr Pink. These were uncertified, a friend, Dermot Leavy who owns a local shop in Ardmore was throwing away a few old spuds and I took them off his hands.

The venerable Kerr Pink

The Kerr Pinks were the only type I chitted - and as you can see here in the foreground a few Orlas, mid ground are Setanta, and then Kerr Pinks whaich are doing very well for a main crop, so chitting does work.
They are by far the largest plants even though the further ridge is in shade and North facing.

I put in the ridges in the traditional way using well rotted manure and seaweed.

They went into two ridges as there was simply no space in the bed for them, and Kerr Pinks are a local favorite.

Intercropped on the side of the ridge are excess Stutgarter onion sets that are doing well.

I was worried that I had a touch of blight in early May, and sprayed with coppersulphate, soot and soda, this traditional remedy was given to me by Tommy Paraic Tom Phait Canavan, so many thanks for that.
I found on the internet this remedy is regarded as the most organic way to control blight, and is known as burgandy mix.

It may have been frost damage as opposed to bight, but after spraying a blight warning was issued by met eireann, so prevention is better than cure.

I was a little concerned that the wilt here could be blight, and after getting into a tizzy, it was pointed out to me on the excellent website that it was most likley frost damage, which is a relief.

A few beetroot for which there was no space have been rammed in at the end of the bed, but at the top end I think I will build a frame and plant out Costoluto Fiorentino tomato as an experiment, it is a harsh climate here but they were thrown in the post for free when I placed an order in the UK.
Tey have sprouted, but the package advises not putting them outside until the plants are 10-15 cm tall, so looks like I will have to wait.
I've not known anyone to plant tomato outdoors in Connemara, but the long range forecast is good, and according to they require a growing temp of about 15 deg C, so may as well give it a shot - and if they dont ripen, then its chutney.

Costoluto Fiorentino

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