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Time to turn your attention to the vegetable garden




By Debby Looney, gardening expert​​​​

I did some tidying and planting last weekend, mainly in the fruit area of the garden, so this week I am turning my attention to the vegetable garden.

To my disgust, my blackberries had died – I thought they were indestructible! So I took myself off to buy some new replacements, and thought I would share with you my top picks.


These are definitely my favourite fruit, and, to be fair, my plants only died due to extreme neglect. ‘Loch Ness’ is thornless and semi erect. The fruit is borne on second year wood, so keep an eye on your pruning. ‘Black Satin’ is a lovely early fruiting blackberry, on the tart side. These cultivated blackberries are not rampant like our own, and need to be kept weed free until established, as I have found to my detriment!
Boysenberries are a cross between a raspberry, loganberry and blackberry, with a deep red fruit. They are a fairly small fruit bush, ideal for smaller gardens and containers. It fruits on one year old wood, and is best trained in a fan shape, so you can keep new shoots to one side.


These are a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry and ideally suited to our weather conditions. They do not tend to go off as quickly as a raspberry and are, in my opinion, easier to prune and train. They also fruit on second year wood.


Tayberries are also a cross between blackberries and raspberries, fruiting and keeping well. Also fruiting on second year wood they should be trained and pruned like raspberries. There are two types of raspberries, summer fruiting such as ‘Malling Jewel’ and autumn fruiting such as ‘Autumn Bliss’. When you have both you are ensured a long season, however it is important you label both as they need different types of pruning. Summer fruiting canes should be cut back almost to ground level, and the new growth tied up for the following year's fruiting. Autumn varieties on the other hand can be cut back completely during the winter, as they fruit on current years’ growth.


Another favourite of mine is the gooseberry, especially the sweeter, darker varieties such as ‘Pax’ which is a lovely ruby colour and resistant to mildew. The worst that can happen your gooseberry plant, and which my plants regularly fall victim to, is the gooseberry sawfly. These are an orange coloured fly which lays its eggs on your gooseberries, but will also go for currants. The larvae look like caterpillars; green, with orange dots, and will strip your plant of leaves within hours! The best control is to keep a close eye on your plant, or use a spray such as Grazers caterpillar control, which is safe to use on edibles.

Fruit cages

The main part of my job last weekend was erecting fruit cages over my plants. Birds are by far the most worrisome pest, and strong netting is the only protection against them. I bought the handiest caging – aluminium poles, which can be connected using matching corners, connectors and end caps. Light, reasonably study, and super easy to put together, even for two left hands such as mine, I heartily recommend investing in some type of protection. If you're feeling sorry for the birds, which I do, an option is to plant some Aronia bushes. These are great for them as they can be used as shelter, have very pretty red autumn foliage, and masses of black round berries which I find too sour, but the thrushes and blackbirds seem to love them! These plants need no maintenance, are disease free, and grow in the most adverse conditions…naturally!



Ring of Beara Cycle launches school programme

The Ring of Beara Cycle is for kids too! As part of its commitment to make a positive impact on the local community, the Ring of Beara Cycle are proud […]




The Ring of Beara Cycle is for kids too! As part of its commitment to make a positive impact on the local community, the Ring of Beara Cycle are proud to continue to with two great initiatives: its Kids’ Cycle and its sponsorship of the School Cycle Safety Programme.

The Ring of Beara Cycle will take place on May 25 with over 4,000 cyclists taking part. The event starts and finishes in Kenmare town, Co Kerry to complete either a 110km or 140km route encompassing the magnificent mountains, valleys and the rugged coastline of the Beara Peninsula.

Kids’ Cycle
Adults are not the only ones getting on their bikes on May 25 for the Ring of Beara Cycle. The event also has its very own cycle for children around the town of Kenmare. Not only does this give kids a chance to join in the days’ activities with their parents, but it’s free and a great way for kids to get outdoors and exercise in a fun and safe environment.
Open to any child in national school between third and fifth class and following a 2km route around Kenmare and a slightly shorter route for tinier ones, registration is from 9.15am in Kenmare town square. Parents and guardians are welcome to cycle with their children. All participants should bring and wear a safety helmet for the cycle.
School Cycle Safety Programme
Another community initiative from the Ring of Beara Cycle is the Cycle Right Programme, working with local schools to get kids’ up to speed on road safety and cycle best practices.
The Ring of Beara Cycle is working with Cycle Sense and Wheely Good Cycling Academy to deliver this 4-week programme to local schools in and around Kenmare and the Beara Peninsula.
Some 250 students across 8 schools are participating in this initiative, and the schools involved are: St John’s National School, Realt Na Mara National School , Lauragh National School and Tulloha National School in Kenmare, and on the Beara Peninsula: Scoil Chaitigheirn in Eyeries, Oir Cheann iNational School in Eyeries, Cahermore National School in Allihies, Scoil An Croi Ro Naofa in Castletownbere, Mhichil Naofa in Castletownbere, Adrigole N S in Bantry, and Trafrask Mixed N S in Ardrigole.
This initiative is normally paid for by the schools themselves but is now free for all the children taking part thanks to a generous donation by the Ring of Beara Cycle Committee that covers the cost of delivering the programme to these schools.
Cycle Right is the National Standard for Cycle Training and provides practical cycle safety and skills training through Department of Transport, the Road Safety Authority and Cycling Ireland. The aim of the programme is to promote cycle confidence on the road in increasingly complex scenarios delivered by qualified, registered trainers.
No stranger to giving back to the local community, not only does the Ring of Beara Cycle make a significant, positive impact on the local economy, it also encourages kids to enjoy themselves on their bikes and to do this safely with confidence.

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Browne’s Agri Open Day is a must-attend event

Browne’s Agri Open Day is always one that was marked in  Agri calendars as a ‘must-attend event’. This year’s event is taking place on Wednesday May 22 on their site […]




Browne’s Agri Open Day is always one that was marked in  Agri calendars as a ‘must-attend event’.

This year’s event is taking place on Wednesday May 22 on their site in Castleisland.

The event was always renowned for getting great advice on the Agri topics of the day as well as a window into modern developments taking place in all aspect of Agriculture and country living.

The extending of the yard area will allow more space to be given over to even more exhibitors, ensuring all areas of agriculture, and rural life will be showcased on the 22.

There will be experts on hand to advise on Calf Rearing, Grassland management, Weed control, Drainage, Fencing , Shed and Yard Layouts as well as bee keeping, and helpful health advice.

“As well as the great advice, you will be ensured of great deals, great food, great craic and free entry to the many spot prizes that will be available on the day,” said general manager Denis O’Connor.

“All that is asked is your attendance and if at all possible, to make a small contribution to our chosen charity Pieta House.”


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