Vegetable Growing in Ireland
Abundant rainfall and a mild climate in Ireland guarantees vegetable plants will never suffer from the serious repercussions of drought. The Ireland hardiness zones ranges from a 9 in most of the country and up to a 10 in the low-lying coastal areas of the southwestern regions, according to Irish Gardeners. The Gulf Stream and the predictable maritime climate give the country mild winters.
When planning a vegetable garden in Ireland, consider a planting site that is on a southern or southwestern slope. Soil warms up quickly in the spring and stays warm into the fall. Choose a planting location at least 4 feet away from hedges and trees. Despite ample rainfall in the region, the roots of the hedges and trees will quickly take nutrients and water from the vegetables. Smaller, weaker vegetable plants will be unable to compete against such aggressive root systems and will suffer from drought mixed with nutrient deficiencies.
Despite the ample rainfall in Ireland, the soils have adequate drainage. Vegetables do not tolerate standing water well. Areas in the country with sandy soil are ideal for growing onions and carrots. Heavier soils, which often contain excessive lime content, support cabbage well. The regions in the south, west and southwest tend to be acidic in nature and will need lime added before planting vegetables, according to Garden.ie. Continue to add lime in these regions every three to four years so the soil is rendered neutral for maximum vegetable growth.
Most cool-season vegetables are started in mid-March to April in Ireland. Tender vegetables can be planted outdoors in Ireland in mid-May when all danger of frost has passed. Some vegetable varieties benefit from starting from seed indoors, then being transplanted outdoors. Peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes and runner beans all benefit from starting indoors. Even lettuce, cauliflower and brussels sprouts benefit from indoor starting before planting in the outdoor Irish garden.
Sowing and Crop Rotation
Many vegetables are quick to mature in Ireland's mild weather. Salad vegetables, such as beetroot, scallions and turnips, mature quickly and can be sown in stages all the way until mid-July or the beginning of August for continuing vegetable production. Consider crop rotation when planting to limit the spread of disease and to give the soil a rest.
Disease and Pests
Very few diseases afflict vegetable plants in Ireland. Potato blight does pose a problem. Common insect pests include slugs, snails, greenflies, carrot root fly and cabbage caterpillars. Take measures as soon as you see pests, to limit the damage they do to the vegetable crop.
When preparing a gardening bed for vegetables, consider planting a few flowers among the vegetable rows. The flowers will help to attract pollinating insects to ensure an ample crop of vegetables, according to Irish Seed Savers. Add compost and aged manure to any garden plot to help add much-needed nutrients.