February / March update
It’s been a surprisingly busy winter so far. There’s not much vegetable growing – or harvesting – to do, but there’s been plenty of planning and starting of new projects.
Our 2014 crop plan is now done (click here to see our intended crops and seasonal availability). The main change is dropping lettuces – we haven’t got the right kit, and for a fiddly successional crop that we’d plant every 2 or 3 weeks we never grew in enough volume to justify it all. Besides, other growers do them much better than we do! But we’ll be picking up celeriac again, after a year not growing it, and we’re expanding our range of squash.
It’s a time of year when the seduction and false hope of seed catalogues can really take hold. The crop plan looks great on paper! We’ll easily have 10 tonnes of squash, we’ll have successional batches of broccoli coming ready at just the right times, we’ll finally have the right varieties of spinach at the right times of year etc. – because that’s what the seed catalogues say…
’tis a lovely feeling, all that hope, and it’s no bad thing but we’ve been trying to temper it with a bit of sober analysis of where we really need to improve and how we can mitigate the effects of the greatest unknown – the weather. So a few things we’re up to are:
> looking for a new leek planting method. Our current leek planting leads to unacceptably high numbers of buried seedlings… lots of lost potential income
> building a squash store – trying to protect fruits harvested in October from winter frosts and dampness so they can last longer. A proper DIY job, but if we get it right we can massively extend the season in which we can sell squash
> a new weeding implement to cope with in-row weeds and different soil/weather conditions
> tree planting – for fruit production and also wind protection for the whole site.
The biggest news of all, though, is that we now have electricity on site. After 5 years of managing this patch of land we have finally boiled our first kettle and had a fresh brew – a seminal moment! Solar panels are to follow soon… watch this space…