The end of another year in the garden, and it has been a very difficult year for us gardeners, first that early Spring followed by the long hot dry Summer, with most plants three weeks early, but saying that, both our shows we had good number of exhibitors with high quality entries despite what the weather threw at us! Although a relatively quiet month in the garden, there is always something needing doing, Winter pruning of fruit trees can now be carried out until bud burst, at the end of February, bearing in mind that stone fruits only need pruning just after they finish fruiting in the Summer. In the vegetable plot , over wintering brassicas, such as brussel sprouts, cauliflowers and sprouting broccoli may need staking to stop the winds blowing them over. If you have any climbers or creepers, such as virginia creeper, honeysuckle & ivy, on your house, now is a good time to get out the ladders, and remove any that have made themselves too much at home around gutters and gables, while you are up there remove any leaves from gutters & downpipes. On days weather outside not being suitable for gardening, nothing is better than sitting in-doors looking out the window & planning next year’s garden, browsing through seed catalogues for your seed order. The Dobies seed catalogues are now available to Club members, offering their discount scheme, as in previous years, you will be given a unique ref. Number to be used with your order, applying the relevant discount & posted direct to you, and additional benefit is that the Club also receives a percentage of purchases, thus adding to Club funds, a “win-win” for all.
As garden tasks are low in these months I thought I might give you some interesting facts regarding some of our most popular vegetables, over the next few months. Potatoes; the Incas of Peru grew potatoes 5000 and 8000 BC with Sir Walter Raleigh introducing the potatoe to Ireland in 1589 but it was a further 40 years before it reached the rest of Europe. People soon came to realize potatoes , contained many of the essential vitamins required for good health. Potatoes contain good levels of vitamin C and B6, with the highest levels being found in new and salad varieties. Boiling, steaming or baking is best, to retain nutrition in the skin. Potatoes are also an excellent source of fibre. Carrots; the cultivated carrot seems to have been cultivated in Afghanistan around 5000 years ago, in those days it’s roots were purple or violet rather than the familiar orange we are so used to. History seems to indicate the current orange carrots were selected in the Netherlands around 1600, but the story goes that it was developed to honour the Dutch Royal House of Orange, is probably apocryphal, but fits in the story nicely. Carrots are excellent source of beta-carotene & fibre and are rich in vitamins A,C ,K and folate, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. They can help reduce cholesterol , risk of heart attack and signs of premature aging and lower blood pressure. Carrots “do” improve eyesight , but unfortunately, do not let you see in the dark! They also improve your skin health your immune system and help with your digestion, so it would appear we all need to eat more carrots & potatoes! Carrot record; the world’s longest carrot measured 6.245m/20foot, six inches , grown in the UK by Joe Atherton.