Some vegetables need the soil prepared during the winter months, if this is so then after digging and or after using a tiller machine for a perfect form of the soil or if your soil is being left until the start of the new growing season, then apply as much organic matter as possible to the surface, such as a mulch of straw, grass or/and seaweed (thick as possible) which will protect the soil from hard rain. This will keep all of the animals and organisms near the surface and keep your soil fertile and in perfect condition. Also prepare around the situation with a “vegetable growing plan” so that you can rest your vegetable plots after 2 or 3 years just as the old farmers did and this will provide you with productive, rich soil that should have it’s own little eco-system which will keep parasites and disease in check.
In fact there is no reason why this blanket mulch of rotted grass, straw/seaweed cant be left in place around most of your vegetable crops as they grow, in machine world there plenty of machines that are capable of making the soil soft and ready to be planted as this ground covering will keep weeds out and keep moisture in when you need it during those summer months. So the mulch is actually providing a protective skin for your soil.
This isn’t a new “arty farty hippie” idea. …. It is proven and it works ……. That is how you and me happen to be here, because our ancestors discovered a sustainable farming system working in harmony with nature which was also organic.
Sowing & Harvesting Times:
There really isn’t any exact week in Ireland for vegetable planting out, in the south west we have the Gulf Stream giving us a warm wet time and this continues all the way up on the west coast.
Inland we have frosts sometimes until the end of April but these frosts may never visit the west coast.
On the east coast we can get weather/temperatures totally different to the rest of the country.
So as a general rule the east and south will be one week ahead of the west, and the north could be 2 weeks behind or even longer.
Last year in 2010 a lot of people lost their entire newly planted crops because of the late frosts well in to May, some even lost their crops twice. This year 2011, the west and the south had great weather in March and April, and then winter weather right through into June setting us weeks behind in the season and destroying lots of planted crops. Now maybe this is down to global warming, but as yet we do not know and could just extreme weather conditions, all we can do is wait watch and learn and then just hope we get this right. Depending on what the weather is, most of the farmers are using electric cultivator to make the soil be ready again for another crops.
A lot is said on times to do things but this changes from year to year. Look for the leaves just starting to sprout on the trees, then you will know spring has started, and when the blossom comes on the Whitethorn, then you will know that spring is definitely at the point of no return, but that’s not to say you wont get the odd hiccup along the way one year (like this year 2011), as we know the weather can be totally unpredictable in Ireland and mother nature can be very cruel sometimes.