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…

Happy Brassicas

IMG_20141003_090109 copyI took the enviromesh net off the purple and white sprouting broccoli on Friday, since I think the cabbage whites must (must!) be finished now. Especially since hail is forecast for Wednesday! And if any sneaky caterpillars have found their way in, I’d rather the birds have easy access to them. However, I am slightly worried that the pigeons will see this as an open invitation to get guzzling; but apparently there is enough of other food sources around at the moment…

And now the net is off all the brassicas, it’s a chance to admire how well they look. The early crop of kales I tried (on the far  left of the pic) is very patchy, and most were munched. I really must spend the extras weeks getting the ground in better shape before planting next year, and give it an extra cultivation to get rid of the weeds; the later crop is so much biger and better. While weeding the brassicas a month or so ago, I tend to leave the legumes’ roots there; creating a kind of undersown crop of clovers, based on the green manure that obviously didn’t quite get completely destroyed this spring. But they don’t seem to have affected the main planting of brassicas. There were also a few spears of PSB to pick, which confused me a tad (in October!)… a welcome treat for the weekend!

Proper GM (Green Manures)

IMG_20141003_161004 copyWho needs GM when you can feed the soil and produce healthy plants via green manures?! I love pick-and-mixing my own blend of green manures, either for under-sowing in early summer (I did a mix of Persian clover, red clover and lucerne under the squash and pumpkins, which has taken reasonably well); or an over-winter or 1/2-year ley. I suddenly realised this week that I needed to green manure the rest of the ‘Market garden’ patch (as well as squash & pumpkins, this part of the rotation also has lettuce, beetroot, chard); so on Wednesday evening I spent a happy few minutes choosing what to use from Cotswold Seeds. These guys are great; they tell you if your choice is out of stock asap (they told me organic seed is a bit short because it’s late in the season, so I had to have some conventional substitutes), plus they will talk to you about your options, and what’s best for your site. Best of all delivery is only 48 hours! I went for more Persian clover, red clover, lucerne, phacelia (I’ve always wanted to try this beautiful bee-attracting N-lifter (rather than N-fixing clovers), and trefoil – although I’ll keep most of the trefoil for undersowing in spring.

IMG_20141003_155249 copy IMG_20141003_144800 copy IMG_20141003_144132 copy IMG_20141003_144139 copySo I managed to borrow the tractor and rotovator from helpful Keith this afternoon, rotovated the chardy/beetrooty/lettuce patch, then broadcast the seed using the great Earthway broadcaster EV-N-Spreader . I’m hoping the heavy rain due tomorrow will work the seed in (it’s very small seed, so should enjoy the fine tilth I made); I have wheel hoed-in the seed before, but because of the wet week ahead, I’m hoping the rain will do that job for me. It is a bit late to be sowing these GMs (rye grass and vetch are the usual over-winter choice and are quick to establish, and winter-hardy); but I’m hoping the mild spell continues long enough for these lovely things to get going.