Address: Irish Seed Savers Association, Capparoe, Scarriff, Co. Clare, Ireland   Phone: +353 61 921866   Email:

Start Growing - Garden & Tree FAQs

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Purple Flower Leek at ISSA

What can I grow on poorly-drained/boggy ground?

There are few plants that like sitting in a bog or having their roots constantly drenched. Water filling air-pockets in the soil and cutting out oxygen, vital for root development. If it is waterlogged, you will need to create a growing-bed that drains either by digging drainage trenches around beds or building up raised beds.

Most plants can tolerate periods of wet and if your garden is poorly drained in the wintertime (when little is growing anyway) this may not be necessary. Generally speaking, adding organic matter to the soil will improve drainage, boggy ground can be quite acidic, so get a soil pH kit and if necessary, add ground limestone to the soil to bring up the pH.

How do I deal with blight on my potatoes?

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Anita's Garden at ISSA

Blight is an endemic disease of potato crops in Ireland. The simplest way to deal with it is to avoid it altogether, grow earlies and blight-resistant main-crops. Earlies should be out before conditions are right for the (phytophthora infestans) fungus to spore, and some recent have proven themselves capable of standing up to blight without need of spraying. If spraying, keep it herbal, a horsetail solution sprayed on the leaves can strengthen the plant inhibiting disease.

If growing in drills, the larger the better, earthing up provides a barrier against the spores being washed down from the infected haulms so that tuber blight can be minimized. If blight gets on a severe hold on the haulms later in the season, better to cut off the stump at the soil level, saving the crop from being affected. This will reduce the size and quality of potatoes, does mean you get a crop. For small gardens where space, just grow early varieties, avoiding blight. Harvesting in time to sow or plant a later crop: beans, salads or main crop carrots.

Will my packet of seeds still germinate or grow next season?

Many vegetable seeds retain their germination viability for several years. It does vary a little from crop to crop. Seed packets should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place (paper bags in a biscuit tin is fine). They deteriorate very quickly if they are exposed to sunlight, high temperatures extreme fluctuations in temperature, or high humidity.

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Sample collection from the Seed Bank at Scarriff

Does my garden need to be sunny all day to grow good fruit, vegetables and herbs?

Commonly grown and eaten food crops need to grow in direct sunlight for part of the day. It is a good idea to go out into the garden at different times of the year-spring, summer, autumn and winter taking note where there is sun, shadow, wet and dry places. However most crops will thrive well with between 6-8 hours of sun per day through the growing season.

Why don’t my seeds germinate?

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Scarlet Astec Bean at ISSA

The most common cause for seeds appearing to fail to germinate is due to sowing too deeply in the soil or compost. If this happens the seed after germinating starts to grow a little shoot, failing to have resources to grow out of the soil and into the light. A good general guide: Sowing seed is to sow at a depth 2 x the size of the seed. Big seeds like beans or cougettes and squash’s lay on their side growing a root down and shoot up.

Make sure the soil or compost is firm before sowing not compacted, water before sowing seed, otherwise risking washing compost off the top or dislodging the seed from its position. Once sown keep moist not sodden a light spray mister or very fine rose on watering can is ideal. In spring, direct sowing outside wait until soil has warmed up sufficiently. This often means delaying sowing in wet weather, but usually later sowings of crops germinate rapidly and seedlings thrive and grow better.

Are your trees Irish varieties?

Yes, we have the largest native Irish collection in Ireland, as well as some old English and French varieties that have been traditionally grown in Ireland.

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View from our Orchards at Scarriff

What kinds of conditions are preferred for optimum growth?

Well drained soil is very important, a south facing slope is preferable for the trees growth and health, wind shelter is also very important especially for pears. Soil preparation and planting proximities are crucial creating a good start and healthy growth.

Do you have trees that are more resistant to disease?

No. Although few varieties aren’t so susceptible to scab and canker. All trees will suffer due to poor conditions either of soil, wind or pollination.

What do you mean by rootstocks?

Apples and fruit trees are propagated by grafting or budding onto rootstock in order to achieve early fruiting and control growth and size. The more dwarfing the rootstock, the smaller the tree and shorter life span. The larger the rootstock, the more fruit it produces and will have longer life span.

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Our Orchard Rootstocks at ISSA

I want to store my apples over winter; do you have any that keep well?

Late fruiting varieties are actually better keepers than early varieties.

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Anita's Garden at ISSA

When is the best time to plant apple trees?

The best time is the dormant season which is normally between November until March, posting bare rooted trees at this time of the year. Trees bought in pots can be planted all year round, providing that they’re well watered when planted, in order to avoid causing them any hydric stress.

Do I need more than one tree in order to ensure good pollination?

Yes, two trees are preferable in order to ensure good pollination. If there are other apple trees in the neighbourhood, or crab apples, they should provide enough pollen, as insects travel good distances (up to 3 miles for bees.)


Opening Times
Tues - Fri 9.30am - 4.30pm
Sat 12pm - 4.30pm
Closed Sun - Mon
Entrance to Organic Seed Gardens, Orchards and Woodlands is free to children & subscribers.

Irish Seed Savers CLG - Registered Charity Number 20045029, CHY 13989
Certified Organic Number IE-ORG-02 | Licence no. 5629 | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Statement | © 2019

This project is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development and Pobal through the Community Services Programme.

We confirm that our organisation complies with The Governance Code for the Community, Voluntary and Charitable Sector in Ireland.

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