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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Vegetables you can Grow in Pots – Top 10

how to grow vegetables in pots

The list below includes some of the easiest vegetables you can grow in pots but remember there are many more options depending on your preference. Our list is ideal for a beginner gardener and represents a good range of the basics, for more information on growing vegetables in containers please feel free to contact us.

Most vegetables can be successfully grown in pots or other growing containers provided you use a nutrient rich compost or soil mix. If you are growing vegetables in smaller pots make sure you use compost rather than soil because soil will dry out too quickly and your plants will struggle. Continue reading

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Organic V’s Non Organic Fertilizer

Grow your own vegetables
This is the time of year when I add manure or compost and seaweed to my garden to feed the soil and protect it over the Winter. Over the years I have built up a very fertile soil in this way and rarely, if ever, add any extra feed. I don’t use any chemical fertilizers because I don’t need to but also because they are damaging to the good soil I have built up and are a short term solution to my garden’s nutrient needs. Continue reading

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Heirloom, Open Pollinated and F1 Hybrid seeds.

Grow your own tomatoes
I thought I’d quickly try to explain the difference between open pollinated and F1 seeds this week as I was asked about it twice over the last few days. There seems to be some confusion between F1 and genetically modified seeds as well the difference between open pollinated and heirloom varieties. Anyway, I don’t purport to be an expert in these matters but hopefully this piece will shed some light on the subject, I hope you find it helpful. Continue reading

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How To Grow Microgreens Indoors

microgreensTowards the end of summer and into autumn activity in the vegetable garden slows down as crops are fully grown and their fruit begins to ripen. Winter brassicas are bedded in till spring and the work demands ease off. Apart from tidying the greenhouse and beds, sowing garlic and planting early broad beans there is very little to keep the enthusiastic gardener occupied until the seed catalogues arrive in January.


Many gardeners now move indoors and extend the salad growing season by cultivating microgreens. Microgreens are tender, young green vegetables harvested at the first or second leaf stage and used as a culinary ingredient. They are extremely easy to grow and are becoming increasingly popular. Continue reading

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Making Home Pressed Apple Juice using a Spindle Press

Home pressed apple juice

If you have your own apple trees of any reasonable size you will know that despite your best intentions the only journey many of the apples make is when they fall to the ground. And stay there. You may also have noticed there are plenty of unattended trees around the place where all the apples go to waste. So, what to do about this? Make your own juice!

If you are feeling a bit daring you might want to try making your own cider but be warned:
“Most of the people I know who press apples use them to make cider. It seldom works. Cider making is a fine art, which may involve a dead rat (the nitrogen it contains assists fermentation), plenty of swearing, a fair bit of magic and even more luck. Mostly it involves turning several hundred gallons of delicious juice into homemade Toilet Duck. My advice is to stick to the juice”. George Monboit, The Guardian. Continue reading

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