Seed ordering 2019

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    Colm O'Driscoll tells us about his plans for 2019 in the gardens at Airfield Estate

    The current cold snap is a timely intervention to what had promised to be an extremely early Spring. Early Springs can often lure Gardeners into a premature state of panic as we feel we have to push forward many of our tasks to match the false Spring. So as temperatures plunge and sleet and snow descends we are given a timely reprieve from the emerging spring and focus can return to one of the key tasks of the winter months, seed ordering.

    I believe seed ordering is one of the most exciting aspects of gardening. I look forward to mid-winter each year when the seed companies release their catalogues for the coming season. Each catalogue highlights their new additions promising the reader the moon. Experience has taught me to take these heady descriptions with a pinch of salt. However invariably I still fall for the occasional sales pitch, reassuring myself that after all isn’t sowing a seed one of the best gambles to take.

    Seeds Sprouting in the Organic gardens in Airfield

    In Airfield our team grow thousands of plants annually from seed. The majority of the organic food garden is started from seed each year with our first sowing set in late January. Seed sowing continues throughout the year in Airfield with the help of our heated propagators located in our propagation tunnel. Annually we aim to complete the majority of our seed order by the end of January to ensure we can secure our preferred varieties and required quantity of seed needed for the coming season.

    Although we order seed in January the colating of our shopping list is a continual process that has no end or start date. Note taking is one of the most important jobs of any gardener and I continually make notes of plants or cultivars that have performed well or failed to live up to their billing. Garden visits are a great way of accumulating information for potential introductions to your garden, if you ask kindly it may also be source of free seed.

    Seeds Sprouting trays in the Organic gardens in Airfield

    The main advantage of growing plants from seed is that you can accumulate a large quantity of plants at a low cost. You also are able to obtain a much wider selection of plant varieties by starting from seed. This coming season promises to be a really interesting season in the Gardens in Airfield. A busman's holiday to Chanticleer Gardens in Philadelphia during which I filled my pockets with seed means we have lots of new plants and ideas to trial in the garden. Solanum pyrachantum, Adlumia fungosa and Lepechina hasstata are just three plants in particular that I am looking forward to growing in the garden this year.

    The fun of trying new varieties is not just limited to flowers however. The available varieties of common vegetable crops is endless. Productivity and flavour are the primary drivers in our seed selection for the vegetable garden. Colaboration with Luke and the team in Overends Kithcen is key. However invariably the allure of colour means that you can expect to taste white, bule and tie-dye green tomatoes, golden beetroot, purple and yellow carrots and white cucumbers in Overends Kitchen this coming summer. I am particularly interested to see how the Badger Flame Beet from Row 7 seed company perform. This interesting seed company was established to enable collaboration between farmers and chefs to produce better tasting vegetable crops. The proof will be in the eating.

    Seeds Sprouting Organic production

    In total Airfield orders seed from over fifteen different seed companies to ensure we get the best range of interesting plants for you to view and taste each season. Two great Irish companies that we order from are Irish Seed Savers and Brown Envelope Seeds. Both selling a great range of vegetable crops well adapted to the Irish climate. Seedaholic based in Westport offer a diverse range of flower and vegetable seed at very affordable prices accompanied by all the information you will require to grow the seed.

    Further afield no seed shop is complete without a visit to Chiltern Seed website who offer choice selections of flowers and vegetables annually. Jungle seeds is a great source of unusual and tropical plants for those who have a sunny sheltered garden.

    The Real Seed Company located in Wales offer an extensive range of heirloom vegetable crops that have performed excellently in the gardens in Airfield. Kings Seed and Tamar Organics are two companies we use for the majority of our large scale organic crops. Finally, if time is on your side Johnny’s Seed and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, both located in the USA, offer an extensive range of organic vegetable seed suited to both the commercial and home gardener.

    We are spoiled for choice with the vast range of seed on offer from the aforementioned companies and with prices starting from as little as €1.50 for a packet of seed there really is no excuse not roll the dice and sow a packet of seed.

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