Vital Veg is a certified organic growing operation located in rural Aberdeenshire, offering home/work place deliveries of organic vegetables grown here, and also a wide range of complimentary organic produce sourced from a network of organic growers in the area. I was delighted to have been part of a SRUC Aberdeen tour which recently visited the enterprise.
VitalVeg is certified organic by the Soil Association Scotland and operates on a 2 acre site, with 1 small and 1 multi span polytunnel.
Please visit the website of VitalVeg for more details on the enterprise and their full produce range.
Its not only the Forget-me-Nots that are blooming at Acorns Project in Whiteoaks Centre in Muff, but the VegBox scheme is going from strength to strength, the weekly doorstep deliveries of seasonal organic fruit and vegetables is meaning business is brisk when I visited organic master big Mick at the Acorn Project at Whiteoaks Centre in Muff, County Donegal.
More details on the Acorn project can be found on their website here, for the weekly veg box scheme just drop them an email and they'll send you all the details you'll need....
See some pics from previous trip to Oaks Project here
Organic Horticultural and Eco-education Course with Faughan Valley Lanscape Partnership
We are pleased to offer this free course facilitated by Radio Foyle Gardener Gareth Austin, suitable for adults working in an education setting such as a school, wildlife club, playgroup, or youth club.
The course should provide participants with the following:
The course will be held in Claudy on the following dates. Attendance on all these dates is essential.
Tuesdays, 2.00pm – 6.00pm
Tuesday 9th April
Tuesday 23rd April
Tuesday 7th May
Tuesday 21st May
Places are limited and booking before 15th March is essential. Priority will be given to educators in the Faughan Valley area.
This course is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.
Placed booked by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
The story of this years garlic harvest starts here, the harvest of june 2011. Why? well this is when we started our to select the bigger of the cloves to replant. You see - the bigger the cloves you set the bigger the bulbs you harvest. So we dried the bulbs from 2011 and used away at them, picking out a selection of bigger cloves as we went along...
and by the 9th of january I had this, a lovely big box of big cloves for planting....( I was a bit late planting, ideally you want to plant before christmas but i was only pushing it by a week or two so I just ran with it) - you plant Garlic at this time of year as you need a prolonged period of frost to make the clove split to form a big bulb with cloves inside it...
So we planted our Garlic cloves into a 6x4 raised bed, prepped with a working of fish,blood and bone meal fertiliser and some chicken poop compost (composted hen poop from the hen house), we spaced them about 8" apart....you can see you plant the cloves quite shallow, only just covering the point of the clove...and we waited...
apart from the afore mentioned fish,blood and bone meal fertiliser the only other thing the garlic have got is monthly feeds of comfrey....smelly but mighty stuff.
the weather this year hasn't been asw good as last and the garlic foliage didn't start tu turn yellow until mid july, once more than half the foliage has turned yellow thats your signal to lift, leave it too long and it detracts from the flavour...so myself and connie set to work lifting all the bulbs. When your harvestign yours don't just pull at the stalks as this will rip (you need the stalk attached to the bulbs to dry them properly)
after leaving them on a table for a couple of days the stalks have all softened, here I've bent them over the back of the chairs to dry in the sun (yes its currently sunny in Donegal!). The process of drying the garlci is vital if, liek me, you grow a lot of them and want to keep them for a long period. After drying for 2 weeks in the sun (greenhouse bench is ideal) the stalks will go all brown like shoelaces, as they do this all the goodness runs back into the bulb and closes a trap-door on the top of the bulbs locking in the flavour and goodness - meaning the keep for about 10 months in a cool dark location. I keep mines in a make-shift hammock in the shed. We harvest about 85 from the bed and a half we planted. Cost of the bulbs £5 from Altnagelvin Garden Centre in 2011, cost of fertiliser about £2.....2 years and counting worth of garlic for £7.....where else would you get it???
Comfrey is some mighty stuff. Fact. I use it at every garden project i'm involved with. It make the most wonderful of liquid fertiliser, and you can chop it up and use it fresh as a mulch around plants and at the time of planting put some leaves down with the roots of the plants. I gather wild comfrey, there are lots of locations (I'll tell you a great one soon). The common wild comfrey is Symphytum officinale, you'll see this in abundance down at Inch Island Wildfowl Reserve and in many other damp fertile lands. Comfrey is really a weed, a mad self-seeding weed. But one, which when harnessed has an ability to produce the most wonderful of flower-right fertiliser, without a single additive or chemical in sight (and for nothing!!)
Comfrey is brilliant, we've established that, but where it gets its brilliance is in its massive roots, these long roots extended many feet deep into the soil and tap into many nutrients and bring them right up into the foliage. The plants are easily identified at this time of the year due to their small purply/blue flowers. I gather Comfrey as often as I can, most Sundays I take a walk and a coal bag and gather a fresh bag. The leaves are the best bit, but all the stems and stalks will make fertiliser. Cut it or break the stems and the plant will re-grow quickly and be able for another harvest in 3 weeks or so.
I find the comfrey fierce prickly (not a stingy but an uncomfortable shaprness) so I woos it a bit and wear ma Gauntlet gloves...mighty things these.
One of my favourtie places for gathering Comfrey is Inch Island Wildfowl Reserve in Burt, Donegal. The Comfrey there is fierce accessible (growing alongside the path) and abundant in nature - the picture is all comfrey....right ot the end of the concrete path. which is conveniently located right at the car park...
A favourite method of mines to use Comfrey is to 'brew' it to make a liquid fertiliser. Simply break the stems and leaves up and add to a bucket (try to pack as much into the bucket as you physically can - a good few presses with a childs foot generally helps the process) and top up with water. Place a lid on it and leave for 6 weeks or so, stirring every week. We started a new bucket up in St Marys PS in Altinure, Park Village today, should be nice and ready for when the kids return from holidays.
Now this liquid fertiliser will smell, really bad. But the liquid it produces will do wonders for your soil and your plants. you diliute the liquid about 1 part liquid to 10 parts water and feed it every week to your tomatoes, hanging baskets, peas, beans, onions, spuds...really whatever you fancy. It won't make things grow overnight but it will give your plants a steady supply of nutrients which will keep them blooming happy...and cost you nothing...This picture is my own bucket at the house, I have it on the go from Mid April till late September. I grow a variety of Comfrey at the hosue which doesn't produce seeds (blo
cking 16 or something), and i grow this beside the hen run, i empty all the fresh manure on it and the comfrey sucks it up and grows like beejaysus!
The stewed Comfrey will honk, Connie referes to it as 'Daddys smelly water' but she loves to help pour it around the plants in the garden. The old sludge that the leaves create in the bucket is mega stuff for the compost bin, it rots down super quick and gives a real boost to the composting process...is there anything this plant can't do??
September is looking like a busy one in the NWRC Springtown, there are anumber of Horticulture courses offered, from Hobby right through to city and guilds level 2. NWRC is all about hands on learning, experiencing horticulture by doing it....plant propagation, tree and shrub maintenance, soil science, plant biology all covered in hands-on style...thus ensuring participants get lots of practical skills by the completion of any of our courses.
The following courses are pencilled in to start:
Monday, start 3rd September. City & Guilds Diploma in Organic Gardening, running over 34 weeks, from 4-7pm
Tuesdays, start 4th September. City & Guilds Level 1 Practical Horticulture Skills, running over 20 weeks, this diploma course offers a the participant to experience many skills and get a grasp of academic learning, from 3.30-5.30.
Tuesdays, starting 4th September, Hobby Seasonal Gardening. Running for 10 weeks from 6-8pm. This offers participants to dip their toe into many areas of seasonal gardening, seed swoing, lawn care, garden layout, trimming and maintenance all geared towards the season we're in.
Thursdays, starting 6th Septemner, City&Guilds Diploma in Horticulture. Running for 34 weeks from 4-7. This substantial award is ideal for those employed in the landscape sector and wishing a relevant practical qualification, this award is matched into the CAFRE college (Greenmount) and offers excellent progression onto their Foundation Degree Course.
Fridays, starting 7th September, Hobby Seasonal Gardening. (as above)
Further information can be found by contacting email@example.com
All courses are subject to the relevant number of students enrolling, are are subject to a max class size of 16.
Gardening on Radio Foyle
A summary of each weeks gardening on Mark Patterson Show and beyond