All Organic Growers Alliance members are encouraged to come along & attend our AGM, this year to be hosted by Mick & Alice of Rhos Market Garden, Knighton, Powys. We will also be running an unusual crop seed session in the morning before lunch, then the AGM will be at 2pm, followed by a farm walk, and later dinner for those who want to stay on too. Find out more information about the AGM and how to join here! We will also be revealing more details about the OGA’s plans for 2019, including the dates and details on the Jean-Martin Fortier tour of the South West, Scotland and Ireland this September that we have been busy organising…
Yes it’s that time of year again: January means the time to order seeds and do my tax return. Seed ordering is usually my reward for completing the return, so I was glad to file that bugger and then get on with the proper business of choosing what to grow this year.
Speaking of HMRC, they have been sending me ‘helpful’ letters recently, advising me to prepare for the ‘unlikely event of a no-deal Brexit’ – while this could mean almost anything in my line of work, I took it to mean order seeds: lots of seeds, and soon (even though they are mostly from the UK). I’m also going to have another go at growing aubergines this year: and also camomile, as I seem to get through a lot of camomile tea – I rather think this year might call for many cups of calming beverages.
I get the bulk of my seeds from Tamar Organics, and the Seed Co-operative, with a smattering of what I can’t get from there from other companies such as Moles. Most of the seeds arrived within a couple of days, so I’m looking forward to getting on with getting some early bits going in trays, such as lettuces, spinach, spring onions and fennel.
The summer was so hot and dry that we despaired about ever getting rain, but it did turn up eventually, albeit too little too late for a few salad crops that were held back depsite watering by hand (it’s never the same). However everything else survived; and some crops such as courgettes and squash did very well, loving the heat and dry (we managed to water them just enough to get going). The kale and leeks in the other field could have done with a bit more rain; but the enviromesh netting did shade them a bit, and keep any due under the net for the plants to use, stopping what water was around from evaporating too quickly.
All the crops look great now; there was a bit of mildew on the chard and also Red Russian kales in early September; but a few good days of rain have helped the plants grow through it.
We’re now clearing out the beans and cucumbers from the tunnels; and next week the tomatoes will go, in order to make room for all the winter salad leaves that are ready to plant out.
We attended a Wiltshire Council Market Towns Forum on Thursday 4th in Bradford on Avon’s St Margaret’s Hall; and had an interesting discussion about how best to help local producers and local markets. My argument was of course around access to land, and how council planning departments could work with farmers and growers to make it easier for us to live on or close to the land we work. Councillors seemed very interested, and came up with a few ideas too, such as adding my suggested register for those people looking for agriculturally tied properties, to the current options on the Homes For Wiltshire affordable housing website.
Meanwhile there is much work also going on with the Organic Growers Alliance, as we are planning a new website among other things; and helping to run sessions at the ORC’s Organic Congress in November: book your tickets now!