Random distraction

Deliberately not mentioning the weather… damn, just did! Anyway, I found this cute shrew (I think it’s a shrew, it was tiny and had a long pointy nose) in my compost tarpaulin the other day; it wasn’t quite as fast as the usual squeaky visitors to my place – mostly field mice and voles and the odd compostophilic rat that thinks that by hiding it’s head I can’t see it any more); but still speedy enough to leg it while I tried to catch it on camera. Good to know at least the wildlife is thriving…

The Story So Far

Overall, 2011 was a good first year. As well as putting the polytunnels up, I supplied the farm shop and cafe with plenty of produce, including lots of lettuces, beetroot, spinach, rocket punnets, micro leaves, radishes and fresh wet garlic in spring (very exciting feeling to see someone in the farm shop wondering around with my very own veggies in their basket!).

Later in the year there was more lettuce and beetroot, plus some good carrots for bunching, broad beans, climbing beans, bags of multicoloured French beans, a few runners (blast those deer, they chomped the beetroot and courgettes too; will put in electric fencing next year), a few spring onions (they got a bit overcome with weeds), and early kale. Then harvest time was really busy, with tons of heritage tomatoes, great chilli peppers and lovely sweet peppers (need more next year); only a handful of baby aubergines (will try a new variety in 2012), and great knobbly mini cucumbers.

The broccoli (calabrese) was pretty good, and the smaller side shoots sold well in bags in the shop. The leeks were nice, but most were a bit small and I ran out before Christmas, doh. The rain in autumn meant that many caulis and Brussels sprouts were ruined by slugs (note: take the nets off earlier next time!), and there were fewer squash than I would have liked – maybe due to the soil, maybe the deer, maybe the dry spring/summer. Lots more experimentation for next year; I’m now selling to a few pubs and restaurants too, and the chefs there are keen to try some things out which they’re having trouble getting hold of, so time to start planning…

Getting Started

The first lot of seeds went in the ground undercover in March 2011 (leeks, spring onions, rocket, radish, beetroot, spinach, climbing French beans); while the tender crops such as chillies, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and aubergine began to germinate in their snug heated trays.

There was also a spot of time to start building the extremely high-tech compost bays. The idea here is that a mixture of veg waste and crop debris will go in the first bay, together with paper, cardbaord and any woody material; then after few months I’ll turn the whole lot into the next bay, and put fresh veg waste etc in the first bay again – so giving the original lot now in the second bay a chance to decompose in peace.