Archive for January, 2010

Half Acre

This is approximately half an acre where I will be growing most of my root vegetables this year. It will be split up into 20 beds, 1.5m in width and 50m in length. There will be 14 beds of carrots (4 rows per bed), 5 beds of parsnips (3 rows per bed) and 1 bed of beetroot (4 rows per bed).

I will be growing 4 different varieties of carrot, Amsterdam Forcing for early production, Early Nantes 2 for second earlies and Camberley and Autumn King 2 for the main crop. I will also be overwintering Autumn King 2 by covering the beds with a mulch of straw. By doing this I will be essentially storing them in the ground through the winter and digging them up as I require them.

This year I will be trying two different varieties of parsnip, White Gem and Tender and True. The variety of beetroot will be Boltardy. I am only growing one bed of beetroot to begin with as I am unsure of the demand for fresh beetroot.

My aim is to begin sowing parsnips around the third week of February. Hopefully we will get a good spell of weather soon allowing the ground to dry out sufficiently for me to rotovate. I will probably sow my first carrots around the same time and cover these early first sowings with a fleece to aid germination.

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Wheel Hoe

This is a wheel hoe, another useful piece of equipment for growing vegetables on a small scale. I use it for weeding in between rows of crops and paths between beds. It cuts down considerably on time spent weeding which would otherwise would have to be done with a conventional hand hoe. Utilising a push and pulling motion it will quickly make its way along a path or row, cutting the weeds just below the surface.

The stirrup hoe (seen in the above picture) does the actual cutting of the weeds. It is available in several different sizes which can be changed according to the width of the path or row being weeded.

Here’s a YouTube video showing it in action.

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Push Seeder

This is a push seeder, an essential bit of equipment for growing vegetables commercially on a small scale. I use it for sowing carrots, parsnips, beetroot and turnips.

The seeds are placed in the hopper (shown in the second picture), the brush pushes the seeds through a seed plate which has several different size holes, the selection of which depends on the size of the seed being sown and the seeding rate required. They then go down a chute into a drill created by the seeder, the depth of the drill is also adjustable. The drill is covered and then lightly compressed by the rear wheel of the seeder. The seeder also has a row marker which marks out the next row as the previous one is being created.

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Garlic

This is a hardneck variety of garlic called Vallelado, it is especially suited to Northern European climates and appears to be doing well here in Kerry even though we had abnormally cold weather this winter. It was planted in October and should be ready for harvest around the end of July.

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Overwintering Onions

These are overwintering onions also known as Japanese onions. This variety is called Shenshyu Yellow. They were started in plug trays from seed back in August, planted in early October and should be ready for harvesting in early July. Bad weather, especially in the last month gave them a bit of a battering but they have come through it pretty well.

The seed was grown in multi-blocks which means that 4 seeds were grown in each plug, the individual onions will push each other out growing as normal. The advantage of this is that less plug trays have to be used and planting time is cut to a quarter of what it would have been if each onion had to be planted individually. They are grown on a 5′ bed with 12″ between rows and multi-blocks.

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