Preparing The Ground

IMG_20141023_131632OK this will be the winter where I get LOTS of projects done. Hopefully. With any luck. Well, some, anyway…

The two main projects that are most pressing are the two new polytunnels I bought second-hand from Oxford at the end of the summer; now Richard and Keith have kindly moved the fence for me (sorry horses, your field is shrinking once again), I need to get the ground ready, then put the frames up. I thought about rotovating the prospective tunnel areas a few times, which is what we did to kill off the turf last time; but with all this wet weather, I’m not sure that’s going to be practical any time soon. So I’ve spread some manure and a little green waste compost over the areas, and covered with Mypex, to try and at least weaken the grass growing there. Then I can build the frames around the ground cover, and hopefully reaveal the cover when ready to show ready-to-rotovate ground. If I had more time and didn’t need to get these tunnels into production asap, I would like to try Charles Dowding’s method of cardboard, lots of compost, and plastic to cover it for 6 months or more. Maybe if the turf is still looking resilient in a few weeks, I’ll give up trying to get something growing there in the winter, and try no-dig until spring.

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More Awards

BGFA2013-60Look who’s been shortlisted for Best Local Grower in the 2014 Bath Good Food Awards! (At the bottom of the page.) Clue: it’s me. *Prepares speech; and disappointed face at the same time*. It’s great to see more producer catergories in these annual awards – a reminder that while the chefs and local shops do a sterling job, if it wasn’t for farmers, growers and other producers, they would have nothing to work with. Also great to see that Hartley Farm has been shortlisted for best local farm shop, and best local meat (which they won last year, see picture).

Apple Sunday 19th October Bath Market

unnamedI’m looking forward to Apple Day at the Bath Market, Green Park Market, this week: I’m only there with a veg stall (and my books!) for the morning, but the buzzing market will be going on from 9.30am-4pm, and there will be a great feast in the middle too. I love these markets anyway, and the chance to chat to people (and have a quick browse myself!); at the mo I’m working out what to take with me. Pumpkins, chillies and butternut squashes I think, to help combat the miserable weather; plus some kale bags, celery, fennel, loose radishes (they are great used raw or cooked like swede or kohl rabi), and some spicy salad bags too I reckon, full of new season mustards, mizuna and claytonia. Can’t wait!

Green Manure Update

IMG_20141015_101338Yes ok you’re right; this blog post is partly an excuse to be inside during this filthy weather (it’s ‘filthy’ if you’re out in it getting wet & cold, and ‘lovely rain’ if you’re inside, looking out and appreciating its benefits). The cucumbers haven’t quite finished yet, so I can’t clear the rest of that tunnel out and get it ready for salads (Friday?); ditto tomatoes; so paperwork and blogging it is. Anyway, the green manure seedlings have enjoyed the wet weather; and it’s quite funny spotting the areas where I either spilt seed, or turned the crank handle of the broadcaster too slowly, letting more seed out over a smaller area. These thickly sown patches will be great though, and crowd out the weeds with gorgeous clovers and phacelia. Oh, drat it. I now have ‘Cecilia’ stuck in my head again (usually the Suggs version, rather than original Simon & Garfunkel or new Vamps/Shawn Mendes version); this always happens when talking about phacelia. I have similar problems with Mizuna Mata: “it means no worries… ” (apologies for spreading the ear worms.)

Award Winner?

gardening-for-profit-front-coverI have just heard that my humble little Gardening For Profit book has been nominated for a reference book award next month, which is very exciting. The only snag is that a shortlist of all the nominees won’t be announced before the award ceremony in November (so no one will know the winners or even the shortlist before they buy tickets and go); and a ticket to the award afternoon in London will cost me over £170. Now, I’d love to go, meet other authors, get involved in networking, celebrate the book’s achievements, and support the awards too; but as a veg grower, I always tend to view prices in terms of how many salad bags I’d need to produce and sell in order to pay for things. That’s a lot of salad bags. And I’d have to get to London too. So my options are a) try and raise the money some other way, but that seems unlikely, or b) write a cross blog post about the price and implied elitism of such award and events. If I’m feeling cynical, it rather feels like only the big-shot authors who are published by big-shot publishers would be able to go to these things. But maybe that’s just pre-emptive sour grapes. I suppose I could always organise a cheaper awards ceremony myself, open to everyone, where a shortlist is published before the awards and/or just a token payment is asked of around £20 to cover bare (cheap) costs – ie not in a London hotel, but somewhere like a horticulture college – and with prize-givers who would be happy to get involved and not charge high fees. Hmm; there’s an idea…

Bean Busy

IMG_20141010_152005A post to celebrate an under-rated star of this season: climbing beans. Sown in March and planted out in the Vole Tunnel in April, these little beauties were especially prolific in the early-mid summer when there wasn’t much else around; and carried on manfully with a harvest of beans pretty much every week. I think I’ve picked the last lot now, on Friday (the green Cobra beans at the top of the tunnel have been especially productive this year) – mind you I’ve been thinking that for the last month or so, and then another flush keeps appearing. But I really must clear out that tunnel next week, and whack in some winter salads that are waiting patiently in the module tunnel, so I’m pretty sure these bags of beans are the last of the season. But thanks beans; I’ll definitely put more of you in next season – when I’ll have more room once the new polytunnels are up…