The agricultural year has gotten under way in recent weeks as the weather has improved. At An Fheirm, south of Orchardstown in Leylandiistan, the plots have slowly begun to fill with green leaves and shoots. The first vegetables have already begun to be harvested, while on the numerous fruit trees and bushes blossoms and small berries have started to appear.
The government fulfilled its commitment to double the amount of land cultivated. In fact, the total land now used for agricultural purposes outside of the orchard has trebled. Last year, just three raised beds were used for growing, this year that total is 8, after a significant private investment by Co-President Ó Cathail. Crop rotation is being practised, while crops grown are subject to organic rather than conventional growing methods. Seaweed extract is currently the only fertiliser permitted by the Confederation’s State Organic Regulation Authority (SORA), established a few weeks ago.
Above: Radishes have been harvested since late April, while rocket is now also being harvested as summer arrives.
While radishes and some salad leaves have been harvested already, most crops should be ready between August and late September. A large amount of onions and garlic, both of which store well, will be harvested in September and dried traditionally by plaiting the stems. Carrots, beetroot and potatoes will be harvested from September, with swedes arriving on the scene later on, though salad or “new” potatoes are expected around July. Peas, runner and french beans and a trial plot of three soybean plants also feature in the raised beds. Trial crops of sugar beet for molasses and sugar production, flax for fibre and buckwheat for flour and grains have been sown in Gurvata and Leylandiistan. All crops have been grown from seed, much of which is also certified organic.
In other news, a government meeting regarding the agricultural sector has concluded that plots should remain under private ownership with state guidance on some matters. The planned formalisation of the management structure of agricultural plots under bodies called co-operatives is to be delayed until next year. Agricultural Payments outlined in the budget will be made in March 2016, when plots return to activity after winter.