ISSA e-zine 15 June 2011

In this edition -

  • Cross-Pollination...

  • Causes of Fruit Tree Stress...

  • Horse Power...

  • Upcoming Workshops...

  • What To Do In The Garden This Week...


When you’re trying to produce seed, as we do here at ISSA, cross-pollination between plants of different varieties (but which are within the same family grouping) is a serious risk. This could result in impure seed - not much use if you’re labelling and selling huge quantities of different varieties like us! Some crops are safe enough, as they self-pollinate (e.g. tomatoes, peas) but others you have to be a bit more careful with.

For example, we grow out only one variety of the brassica family (cabbage, brussels sprouts, swedes etc.), which cross-pollinate quite enthusiastically, on our land each year. But, if you have close neighbours, it can be sometimes be hard to avoid situations where they plant something you’re growing also. Such is the case with a neighbour growing beans near Anita’s Garden so, to be safe, we’ve netted them to stop insect cross-pollination, as shown here!

Netted Area

Causes of Fruit Tree Stress

On our website we’ve posted a summary of a technical note by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise which discusses some of the causes of this and what you can do - on our website

There’s a host of factors feeding into this issue, including prime conditions for the flourishing of the bacterial canker pathogen and a sudden period of frosts which didn’t give trees the chance to harden off, followed by an exceptionally dry period when the trees should have been flourishing! It’s well worth a read for any of our Supporters who’ve bought trees off us over the years.

Horse Power

We’ve posted video and pictures from the first visit of Harry and Mona who came to help us earth up our main crop potatoes by horse power. It can be watched on Youtube, here, for anyone who’s interested.

Brassica Display

Loads have been planted out around the ISSA gardens over the past few weeks, so it’s well worth a visit to see what’s been going on! Among other things, we’ve just installed our Irish brassica display (see photo below) down in Inis Glas, which includes everything from Uncle John’s Kale, to Gortahork Cabbage and Balbriggan Brussels Sprouts.

Here’s a picture of some of our native Irish bees making the most of the sun to collect pollen from this flowering parsnip. Have a look for the bright, full pollen baskets on their legs!

Bee Pollinating a Parsnip Flower


Upcoming Workshops

What to do in the garden this week

  • We’ve had some wild weather over the last few weeks but hopefully all your seedlings survived! A lot of things, if not most, should be planted out at this stage with jobs for June including the continuation of successional sowing (every three weeks is a good rule of thumb),

  • Continue to earth up your potatoes to encourage a larger crop,

  • Get on top of your weeding, and planting out some more tender, late crops such as squash, cucumbers, runner beans and tomatoes.

  • If the weather’s particularly dry make sure you water them in well, for fear that they’d wilt!

  • Jack Rowe from County Wexford sent in this tip on how he deters the cabbage root fly from laying eggs around his brassica seedlings: "I use a different remedy for this pest, and so far it has been very effective: When I plant out brassica seedlings I plant each into the bottom of a hole so that the top of the plant is level with the ground surface. The hole can be filled in as the plant grows. I also put a collar of lime around each plant. Why do these work? Maybe the fly is looking for plants proud of the surface, maybe the tiny grubs find the journey too great, maybe the smell of lime keeps the flies off. Anyway, I used to have a lot of trouble (collars were not effective) and now, touch wood, I don't. Also I think the brassicas are glad of the lime - they follow on last year's potato crop."

This week's ezine was compiled by Tom Smith, a University College at Cork student who is completing a 6 month work experience placement at Irish Seed Savers.

Kind regards,
Chrys Gardener
Project Manager

Irish Seed Savers Association
Co. Clare
Tel: +353-61-921866