Expert gardener comes up blooming

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Well known raconteur and expert gardener, Frank McCooke, from Slemish Market Garden, Ballymena, addressed Hillsborough Horticultural Society recently.

Although his title for the evening was ‘Growing Vegetables Naturally’, he ranged over many gardening and horticultural topics.

Frank has such a vast practical knowledge and this, together with his unique presentational skills and anecdotal stories, made for a very entertaining evening.

He is an organic gardener who abhors the use of chemicals. He advocates a five-year rotation starting with a fallow year, then Alliums (onions etc) the next year, followed by root crops (turnips, parsnips etc), then Brassicas (cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower) and finally legumes (peas and beans).

This will certainly keep disease under control. Another of Frank’s many practical tips was the use of companion plants, such as Callendula or Tagetes, to keep greenfly under control. Frank advocates making your own compost and is keen on seaweed as a constituent. He also advised that every grower should have some garlic in the garden since no pest likes it. The AGM followed, at which the following office-holders were elected: President - Jacqui Townsley; Chairman - Derek Alexander; Secretary - Hilary Glenn; and Treasurer - Harry Turkington.

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 29 at 8pm when Mark Gregg will address the topic, ‘Planting for the Public Realm’.