Yep, things are growing growing growing over here at the moment. So much so that there is an endless list of jobs to do: mostly weeding (I HATE BLOODY THISTLES), but also successive sowings and plantings of kales, lettuces, salads, rocket, herbs… the carrots in the tunnel have just come to an end, they did pretty well this year; the rows I half-heartedly drilled outside have pretty much all been munched (serve me right for not covering with a net) and thoroughly overgrown by weeds, so I’m going to cut my losses and just mow off, & either try something else there, or keep mowing and/or cultivating as a kind of green manure/bastard fallow. The squash, courgettes, lettuces, chard, brassicas (under nets because of rabbits/pigeons/cabbage white butterflies) and leeks all look great so far though, so huzzah for them! Also loving the soil in the new field – and distinct lack of creeping thistles there. So back to work then…
It’s been a manic June weeding weeding planting weeding weeding weeding; so a moment to pause & enjoy the flowers which look fab just now (and not just the edible ones either, such as herbs, nasturtiums and shungiko which are going in the salad bags). In particular I’d like to celebrate:
Sun sun sun! Come & get some sunshine, enjoy a spot of work outside, and make new friends on our next volunteers’ afternoon, next Friday at Grown Green @ Hartley Farm. Possible jobs include seed sowing, planting leeks, planting (& eating!) strawberries, a spot of weeding, sorting out some flowers in pots… and anything else that crops up. Free lovely barista coffee & snacks included, so drop me a line if you’re interested! firstname.lastname@example.org
Now the Elephant Polytunnel is finished at last, we finally managed to plant the tomatoes last Wednesday, phew! This means that the peppers are in, tomatoes are in, some cucumbers and climbing beans are in (the rest in the next 10 days); so the tunnels have now caught up at last (the tomato tunnel still needs some work asap though, since some don’t have the strings planted under their roots to grow up; and most don’t have straining wire in place for the string to tie on too, since I’m waiting for fixings etc to arrive). I also managed to plant out all the pumpkins and the majority of squash plants in the main field last week, after using Howard the rotovator to go over the patch again (bloody thistles!). However towards the end of the patch, Howard starting losing power (I think the clutch plate has gone again); so I now have the happy annual task of trying to find someone who knows what they’re doing and will help me fix him. Hmm…
Now I need to catch up on all the jobs that have been waiting while the tunnels and crops were being sorted: we did manage to keep the successional sowings (kale, lettuce, fennel, basil) going in between jobs, so that’s not too bad (although I haven’t sown any sunflowers yet); but round the tunnels and fields desperately need a strim (the mower is still not back from the mechanics, argh); the weeds in the umbellifer/beetroot patch have shot up, and the courgettes could also do with a hoe; not to mention planting out the first batch of fennel once the ground is hoed first; I need to drill more spinach and herbs; plus in a couple of weeks the leeks will want to be planted out.
Oh and really helpfully, we have been forecast 50mph winds tonight and tomorrow, AGAIN. This year has been ridiculously windy, not just the usual wintery gales: I remember the damage the winds did to Vole Tunnel’s plastic back in February, simply bursting through the plastic; and we seem to have had strong winds pretty much weekly since then. So I’ll need to go round making more stone bags to weigh down nets today; and try & work out how to secure the polytunnel doors as much as possible. I’d love to plant hedging right next to the tunnels, but I’m not sure how practical it will be on this rented land, or how effective – we are pretty much right on top of the hill above Bath. I did start planting soft fruit bushes (such as a few red currants, right) behind Vole Tunnel, which I might look into again. Heigh ho and fingers crossed; here’s to a calmer rest of the year: and if anyone still doesn’t believe in climate change… pah!
Tunnel skinning completed! Amazing! Despite fighting the wind, and all 9 of us nearly taking off at times as Windy Winsley lived up to its name; and 14m x 31m of plastic made an excellent sail. Some swearing and lots of detemination later, we trenched the bad boy in. It feels really big too, so definitely going with Elephant Tunnel as a name. Big love to all the volunteers, we needed every single one of you or we made have ended up in Scotland…
Thanks to my trusty volunteers last week, we managed to get the trench dug & skin on the smaller tunnel last Thursday (which I’ve promptly planted out with peppers, chillies, basil & a few companion flowers). The original plan was to put on the plastic for the larger tunnel, but unfortunately the plastic that arrived was too small so we had to order larger plastic (14m x 31m, rather than 11m x 25m). Hurrah for the smaller tunnel & my land army! Much hot chocolate & lush carrot cake was scoffed in celebration once the plastic was trenched in for the smaller tunnel; and despite the gales this week, it’s standing firm.
Now the plan is to try & put the plastic on the larger tunnel tomorrow (Thursday 21st May), from about 11am – so if you are in the neighbourhood and can spare half an hour to help hold down the plastic while we fix it in place, please do pop along – there’ll be a lovely hot coffee & treats in it for you, the more the merrier! Drop me a line, email@example.com and let me know if you’re interested.
We’ve got 2 new polytunnel frames up, yippee! So the current plan is to put the plastic on during our volunteer’s afternoon on Friday, from 2pm; plus some other nice & interesting jobs on the go too – so come along! Drop me an email too if you’re thinking of coming, so we can get enough fresh barista coffee on the brew!