Well we have had some nice sunny weather in May & June, so I can’t really complain; although we do seem to have an establishes pattern now of hot and dry early summer, followed by cooler and wetter late summers. This is all fine if you can get all your irrigation sorted for the first part of the season, and have all the ground prepared for when you can’t get on it later on. However, it’s rather a pain when it comes to clearing early summer crops and trying to put early autumn produce in: also for getting on top of the weeds, as the buggers keep rerooting and reseeding, and if we spend too long weeding in the wet, we’ll trash the ground. Hey ho, and hurrah for polytunnels…
Meanwhile the crops are actually doing very well; as well as some lovely sunflowers, zinnias, gypsophilia and cornflowers, we’re now picking salads, fennel, courgettes, chard, spinach, kales and perennial herbs outside, as well as tomatoes, climbing beans, basils (check out our gorgeous Thai basil photo!), coriander, chillies, peppers and cucumbers inside. The cucumbers were almost a disaster following the destruction of the first lot by woodlice, but fortunately we’d sown a back-up second lot, and then quickly sowed a third lot too, so they are just a bit behind but catching up now.
At least the rain means time for catching up on paperwork, and blog posts!
It was really exciting to be part of the new Bradford on Avon Food Assembly launch a couple of weeks ago: this weekly Food Assembly is every Thursday now, and such an easy way for people to click and collect local food! You simply go online to https://thefoodassembly.com/en/assemblies/9325 and then order what you fancy, from veg, salads, fruit, meat, bread, eggs, fudge, wine, microgreens and more, before 2am on Wednesdays; then come along to Mount Pleasant on a Thursday evening from 5.30-7pm to collect your order from the producers! Nicer, easier and generally cheape than ordering from the supermarkets, woohoo!
The sun came out just in time for the latest Bath & Bristol Organic Growers‘ Meeting, on the afternoon of Thursday 29th October. Cordelia and Chris from Vallis Veg near Frome had kindly volunteered to host, and there was a good turn out of interested people for a quick farm walk and catch up before the sun went down.
Vallis Veg currently grows on around 3 acres, on a larger site that also houses livestock (small flock of sheep, a couple of pigs currently, and laying ducks for some of the year too), as well as offering camping (complete with composting toilets), and space for forest schools and courses. Veg is grown in the ‘garden’, three small polytunnels (plus small prop tunnel), and some strips in nearby fields, mostly for their small local box scheme, but also increasingly for the Frome Food Assembly.
It was great to swap ideas and tips on crops among the group; Cordelia and Chris are moving towards a no-tillage system, with semi-permanent raised beds mounded up in the garden, and plan to grow the field crops in a similar way. Their late-sown peas were a good gamble (both inside and out), now bearing peas. Windrows of woodchip for making compost was a talking point; mixed with urine from the compost loos, to produce a closed-system compost after three or four years. Bolting kales and slug-nibbled broccolis were also covered; but one key feature of interest was the old Ford van now embeded in the hillside, banked up on all sides with soil and with a green roof growing on top. All the cracks have been filled with cement to keep rodents and other pests out, and this is now their cool storage space.
Thanks again to Cordelia and Chris for hosting, and for the very welcome tea and cake in their warm palatial ‘shed’ house! See you all at the next meeting; any volunteers for playing host in 2016 (involving a farm walk for a couple of hours), please get in touch.