Sweet Potato Planting 2010.
Kildalton College of Horticulture, Piltown Co, Kilkenny.
After our successful trial of Sweet Potato at Kildalton College in 2009 organised by Mr Jim Kelliher Senior Nursery Advisor with Teagasc we have gone back for a much larger trial this year. Unfortunately this time Jim was not with us to do the planting. I am very sure however Jim will be with us to harvest the resulting crop and myself and Dermot Callaghan on left in the picture here look forward to this event. Without the input and drive of Jim the 2010 trials on sweet potato growing would not have gone ahead. I wish to take this opportunity to thank Jim for getting the trials to this stage.
Today we planted 5 rows at 1 metre centres with 30 cm between plants so 400 plants in total have gone into the trial. This trial will give us a fair indication of the value and return from Sweet potato growing in greenhouse conditions in Ireland. The purpose of this further trial is to asses the viability of this crop commercially and promote this wonderful healthy vegetable as an alternative commercial crop for organic and amateur gardeners. This crop will be grown using organic methods therefore no fungicides, insecticides or herbicides will be used in the production. The trial will continue until September / October 2010 at which point we hope to harvest a wonderful crop of sweet potato. In addition to my last blog piece please see here information on our trial in 2009 http://fitzgeraldnurseries.blogspot.com/2009/10/sweet-success.html
During the planting I overheard a student in the greenhouse next door say something about the first time he came into the greenhouse. This sparked my memory back to when I came into the greenhouse as a student at Kildalton. I suddenly realized to my shock, it had been almost exactly 30 years since I first set foot in this greenhouse. Michael Minihan RIP and Michael Conlon RIP were part of the lecurer team there at the time, both wonderful guys but both sadly passed away before their time. The glasshouse where so many hundreds of students have learned their first lessons in Horticulture took on a slightly different meaning bringing memories and echos of past afternoons into the mix of humans and plants. Myself and Dermot "perspried" in the heat of the greenhouse on a wonderful May day. I couldnt help remebering 30 yr old trickling beads of sweat on Michael Minihans red complexion as he tried to explain some salient Chrysanthemum growing tip. During that period in the early eighties it seems to me there was more experimentation hope and expectation from horticulture even though the economy was even worse than it is today. Hopefully the powers that fund Horticulture in Ireland can take a step back and ask should we have drifted away. Maybe we can go some way back to those times and invest more in the real skills of Horticulture and plant science which have serious economic and social values that may have been forgottten for a while. I do believe we have lost some of our hunger and drive from those times and we need to direct resources back towards skills like Horticulture before it becomes more difficult to do so.
Finally back to the sweet potato. Just as myself and Dermot had finished planting the very last cutting Mr Jim Mahoney Head of Horticulture with Teagasc dropped in. Jim on left with Mr Brian Lyons Glasshouse section Manager at Kildalton as you can imagine was dissapointed having missed helping with the planting. We however were delighted to assure Jim that we will not forget him when the spuds need to be harvested in the Autumn. We expect to have plenty of help on hand for that occasion when the proof of the pudding will be in the eating!