The Future of Growing

Nathan shows us his pumpkin patch
Troed Y Rhiw cows say hi
The Farmacy farm shop

I’ve just spent a very enjoyable weekend at the Soil Association’s Future Growers‘ social event, based at Nathan Richard’s gorgeous organic farm in West Wales, Troed y Rhiw. As it’s right by the coast, I think we actually had slightly drier weather than those further inland; although, like most of the country, we stayed pretty wet all weekend, and my tent is still hanging up trying to dry out.

Future Growers are introduced to Kate from Real Seeds
Real Seeds Ben shows us how to pollinate squash
Carrot seed heads drying in Real Seeds’ new barn
Real Seeds’ amazing hoover-powered winnowing machine

After a interesting tour round Nathan’s place on Saturday (he sells direct from the farm from The Farmacy, has set up markets in local villages and towns, and runs a small box scheme – plus check out his holiday rentals on the farm, really beautiful); we headed to the Real Seed Company, and had a good look around their plot. It was so interesting so see the difference in emphasis compared to a veg business; seed heads are of course encouraged, with just a few select plants of each species and variety crammed in to the polytunnel and beds; it’s easy to forget that of course just a few plants yield a huge amount of seed.

Anne & Peter explain their philosophy
Compost turning in action

On the Sunday we headed to legendary Blaencamel, 30 minutes up the road in the Aeron valley; and were lucky enough to catch the famous composting system in action – watching the tractor turn the windrows of fresh material. Anne Evans & Peter Segger have grown veg here for decades; and have got their growing systems down to a fine art. Still they build more polytunnels, and explore new avenues, such as cut flowers (their sweet peas and carnations were just gorgeous).


Beautiful flowers in the new tunnels at Blaencamel
Beautiful flowers in the new tunnels at Blaencamel

Most of all, it was great to see so many new entrants into this essential ‘industry’ of growing food sustainably. Ideas and inspiration filled the conversation and the air; and everyone left Blaencamel to go home rather damp, but buzzing and warm with plans for the future.



Pretty July

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:

Cornflower Black Ball






Gypsophila Rosa






Random poppy which has popped up in the compost heap







Green manure Phacelia, beloved by bees, creating a wildlife superhighway in the field

Happy Seedy New Year!

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 14.38.32Happy New Year one and all – SEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDSSSSS!

Ahem. Sorry about that, just slipped out. I am currently flicking through my seed catalogues and trying to dissuade myself from growing hundreds of tomatillos, novelty cucumbers and 17 different types of mustard this year. Venting excitement here may help rein in the extravagance. Maybe just 12 different types of mustard then… fingers crossed for another good season!