Burtown Kitchen Garden Diary – How to Build a Polytunnel

Sweet peas at Burtown
This week we have our second installment of the Burtown Kitchen Garden Diary where we see Dermot building a new polytunnel on the site to broaden the choice of fruit and vegetables destined for the Burtown Green Barn Restaurant. The ethos behind the Green Barn is to provide the freshest of ingredients which only has to travel meters rather than miles before it ends up on your plate. Dermot is under pressure this year to increase production in the early and late parts of the season and to provide more exotic flavours from juicy heirloom tomatoes to fantastic shaped squash and sweet homegrown melons. Continue reading

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The Quickcrop Pea and Bean Frame

Pea and bean wooden frame
The Quickcrop Pea and Bean Frame is a support system designed for growing your own climbing garden peas and beans. Freshly picked home grown peas are one of the most delicious treats in the vegetable garden whether they are grown to be eaten immediately or set aside to be dried and stored. Like many bean varieties they are simple to grow, with a high success rate, and require very little effort to produce a healthy crop. Legumes are perfect for any gardener who wants to make the most of the space available in their vegetable plot.

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Raised Beds for Vegetable Gardening

Raised bed vegetable gardenWhy use raised beds in the vegetable garden?

I guess the best place to get started is why should I grow in Raised Vegetable Beds in the first place? There are a number of good reasons which I’ll illustrate below but in general it’s all about creating a deep nutrient rich soil which, crucially, doesn’t get walked on or compacted. The good open soil structure present in raised beds makes root growth easier for plants as well as containing air pockets for beneficial microbial life and other friendly organisms. Remember it is the life living in the soil that feeds your plants rather than the soil itself; these beneficial bacteria need oxygen to survive so a good open soil structure is essential. Soil is the key to successful raised beds growing systems (or any gardening) and keeping your planting in dedicated protected spaces allows you to pamper this essential resource.

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Sowing and germinating vegetable seeds

beetroot seedlings in a modular trayWe are now moving into the time of year when we start to sow seeds (for those of you not reading this article ‘hot from the oven’ it is the beginning of February) so I figured it may be helpful to write an article on seed germination. We sow hundreds of thousands of seeds a year to supply our vegetable seedling range so get used to the likes and dislikes of a broad range of vegetables. The good news is it is all pretty easy really, after all the seeds actually want to grow, we just have to help them along. I have arranged the following ground breaking article in a Q&A format even though I’m asking and answering the questions myself, no doubt you will find it fascinating… Continue reading

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The Polytunnel in January

Polytunnel in januaryWhile I do spend plenty of happy time in the garden in January there really isn’t a whole lot you can do other than preparing things for the season ahead. In may cases I will be tempted to start a few jobs when I shouldn’t like digging out weeds (the soil is probably too wet) or pruning fruit bushes (best done just before they bud) so I can actually do more harm than good. The January polytunnel is, however, a completely different place with a warmer environment protected from the elements and a whole load more options. Continue reading

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Burtown Kitchen Garden Diary – Dividing and Planting Rhubarb

walled kitchen garden

This week we are starting a new series of reports from a country house in Ireland, the beautiful Burtown House in Co.Kildare. The reason for the connection is I know Dermot Carey who is now in charge of food production at Burtown and supplies the new onsite Green Barn restaurant with nearly all of its produce. As regards comparing climate to somewhere in the U.K. I guess it is similar to the South West with mild Winters and relatively warm (if not a bit wetter) Summers. I am on the hunt for two more gardens to report from, preferably a North Eastern garden in England or on the Scottish borders and another in the South East. If anyone has any recommendations or would like to do a report from their own garden please drop me a line. All it takes is a 30 minute phone call every month and few pictures from your phone, there is no money involved unfortunately, it’s just a bit of fun! Continue reading

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Rathdooney Vegetable Garden Blog – Jan 10th

freshly harvested homegrown potatoes

I am sure you are sick of seeing pictures of my potatoes by now but I ended up digging out another barrow full of them on Sunday while I prepared a bed for Summer cabbage. According to the weather forecast we are heading for ‘Arctic conditions’ this week so I thought I had better lift any potatoes still in the ground to avoid any frost damage. Tubers close to the surface of the soil will freeze and then turn to mush when they thaw, this creates a foul smelling mess when it rots and can spread to neighbouring potatoes. Continue reading

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Rathdooney Vegetable Garden Blog – November 28th

Winter vegetable garden

You may remember some of the vibrant looking photos from my vegetable garden in the Summer with its neat (ish) rows of healthy crops and tidy weeded paths? Well, it looks nothing like that now. I am afraid the garden tends to get neglected at this time of year as I mourn the end of the season and have yet to get started preparing for the next. I must admit to finding the change a bit depressing when the rich colours of Summer and Autumn give way to the more muted tones of Winter. The bright yellow green shoots of Spring seems impossibly far away until I begin to scribble my plan for the New Year but that is when the garden transforms again before my eyes. Continue reading

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Frost Protection in the Garden

Frosty Morning

As Winter approaches it is important to consider safeguarding your plants from cold weather and the damage that can be caused by inadequate frost protection. All weather conditions play a part in maintaining the health of a plant, regulating water and nutrient supplies, affecting its hardiness and vitality. Continue reading

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How to Design a Garden Pond

Giverny Water Garden

Like so many garden projects designing a pond requires careful planning. There are so many options to consider depending on use, size, shape, material and situation. A careful compromise of these factors will produce a pond suitable for your needs that complements your garden. Continue reading

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