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If, like me, you like your apples, you will almost certainly have noticed how badly served we are by the commercial food chain when it comes to this wonderful fruit. Though there are literally thousands of apple varieties available around the world, just a handful make up the vast majority of apples sold by supermarkets.
Soil. Well, it’s just dirt really, isn’t it? It’s something to be cleaned off our boots and scrubbed off our hands, right? When I started growing my own food, I didn’t have much respect for the soil that the veg was growing in. My focus was on the seed, the plants, the vegetables. The soil was actually a source of annoyance to me - it had to be dug, raked, hoed, rotavated, coaxed and cajoled.
For me, August is the ultimate payback month, when all the hard work of the year really starts to pay off. Somehow, it never seems as busy as other months. August and September sees us poised between the hard work of the current growing year and the hard work of preparing for the next one
I am growing scorzonera for the first time this year and enjoying the sight of it in the summer veg patch while waiting patiently to try it later in the autumn. This oddly named vegetable is relatively unknown in Ireland, but it is one that is well worth growing.
It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we were basking in 20 degrees heat and headed for the beach over the Easter holidays. This year it’s a case of wrapping up well and trying to endure persistent freezing temperatures. It does all seem rather unnatural, particularly since it feels like it should be spring now that we’ve planted the potatoes.
If you want to grow your own food and are starting with lawn, where do you begin? Let’s take a look at three different options. First of all, if you’re not in too much of a hurry to get started, you could try the following. Cover the area down with a thick layer of farmyard manure or compost and then with a sheet of black plastic.
As we make the first tentative sowings of 2013, the 2012 growing season, for the moment, keeps on giving. Last weekend I got out in the veg patch in frost and brilliant sunshine to do some jobs which should have been done ages ago, and primary among them was to lift the remaining celeriac and parsnips from the ground.
With the 2013 growing season nearly upon us, I’m intrigued by the idea that 2012’s GIYing is still paying dividends. It’s a good time of the year therefore for a bit of stock-take. I use various locations to ‘store’ vegetables – our kitchen doubles up as a larder at this time of the year (you can barely get in to the kitchen - there are veggies hanging out of every available space!); then there’s the garage where I keep vegetables in sacks, boxes and the freezer.
I have started to harvest celeriac from the garden now – it’s a hardy veg that I generally leave in the ground until things are starting to get a bit sparse elsewhere and when most of the celery is gone. I am a huge fan of celeriac – it has all the lovely smooth flavour of celery, but with the added benefit that it stores exceptionally well.
Back in late summer when the broad beans, early peas and early spuds were finished cropping, I cleaned up the beds and sowed a green manure called phacelia in the beds (the seeds were broadcast liberally in the soil and then raked in). The seeds germinated within a few days, and within weeks we had a lovely carpet of light green plants covering the beds. This week, the phacelia was ready to be cut down and dug in to the soil.