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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Out with the old and in with the new

It's getting to that time when the majority of vegetables planted earlier in the year are now ready to harvest. Whilst successional planning is always key for us gardeners it can sometimes be quite daunting when you're left with a big open space in the middle of the growing season that was full of plants only yesterday

The broad beans have pretty much come to an end now, I probably went a bit over the top with them to be honest, I was getting bored of waiting and these are one of the earliest seeds that can be sown. I ended up with a lot more than I bargained for, although that's been no bad thing over the past couple of weeks with us regularly enjoying the harvests. I am now left with a gap in the veg patch which is only going to get bigger when the potatoes come out alongside it. They should be out by now having planted Red Duke of York as first earlies, however, we lifted a few plants a couple of weeks ago and thought that they would make better eating as maincrop potatoes due to their floury texture.

So what to fill the space with, the majority of seed packets will tell you to sow March - May? This year I had the forethought to sow some brassicas inside on the windowsill back at the beginning of June in the hope that they would slot straight in after the broad beans. My windowsills have been full since early February and show no sign of slowing down yet. Anyway it's not quite worked out the way I wanted. I sowed the seeds in peat free compost trying to be as organic and environmentally friendly as possible and it's just turned out to be very poor for root growth. Admittedly it wasn't a seed compost but at the time local choice was limited and I have, in the past, regularly used a standard multipurpose compost for sowing.

Although they're a little way behind where I wanted them to be I've decided that the best place for them is in the ground rather than potting on into something more suitable and giving it a few more weeks. As ever I have sown too many so the majority will be planted out with the rest staying as they are for back up, I may squeeze them in somewhere else in time.

With the weather not being too temperamental at the momnet they should establish quite quickly. I have sown Cavolo Nero kale which should be ready around October; Brussel sprouts for Christmas time, cabbage January King for the New Year and because of this year's success plenty of Purple sprouting broccoli.

There's still plenty of time to sow most things. This week I'll be sowing carrots, French beans, beetroot and some cima di rapa. Of course there are things that can be sown almost all year such as lettuce and spring onion. Time spent planting now will see you eating out of the garden right through Christmas and beyond.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Orchards for Wales

So we're starting a campaign, A Kickstarter campaign to be precise. For those of you who don't know what that is Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged.

So here's the idea, We want to transform disused land into orchards that everyone can enjoy, public spaces where anyone can help themselves to fruit.

Very few of us have enough space for an orchard, in fact these days very few of us even have space to plant just a single tree. But what about a public space where everything that was planted was edible and best of all, free. The land would be open to anyone that wanted to come and pick their own fruit from apples to pears or cherries to plums.

Even in the peak of British fruit season most produce sold in the supermarkets still originates from overseas and if you do want to buy British you must pay a premium for it. This project aims to put these heritage varieties back into the spotlight and make them readily available to all.

As well as encouraging people to the site an orchard will naturally encourage and support all kinds of beneficial wildlife. Orchards are excellent for promoting biodiversity with habitats including grassland, hedgerows and trees.

The funding will be used towards the purchase of the land and the trees to be planted on it. Not only will we be creating something that can be enjoyed now it will be a lasting legacy that can be enjoyed for years to come. There will be tree planting days where everyone is invited to come and plant a tree and get involved with where their food is coming from.

All of this in your local community, zero food miles, zero food waste.

Fruit trees should only be planted when dormant, for us this means November to February. So over winter this year we'll be busy planting so that you can get busy picking in 2017.

If we raise more than the target - simple, we just get more land and plant more trees.

Please pledge want you can by clicking the link here.

Orchards For Wales - Pledge

It only takes 30 seconds and makes a huge difference to us.

I'll keep you posted on Progress,


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Open Farm Sunday

If you missed it this Sunday saw the tenth open farm Sunday, an event that has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2006. Farms all over the country open their doors to the public putting on tractor rides, educational talks, kids activities and much more, all for free! The idea is to raise awareness of how farmers are working in harmony with nature to produce good food with environmental care.

Having missed it last year we took the opportunity to visit Slade Farm, an organic farm that rears pork, beef and lamb that is available to buy from the onsite farm shop.

Having a two year old boy, a day on a farm is just about the perfect day out for us; a highlight for him being the pig racing along with seeing all of the tractors.


The owner of the farm gave an interesting talk whilst explaining about sheep shearing. Any meat he doesn’t sell from the farm shop is sold to Waitrose, his point being that you can either buy the meat from him or it can be shipped to Cambridge sorted and shipped back to the local town of Cowbridge. Something to think about if you’re conscious of food miles as perhaps we should all increasingly be.


Other activities on the day were archery, a blacksmith demonstration, learning how to milk a cow, and of course a bbq selling homemade sausages and burgers.


A great day out for all the family and we'll certainly be visiting one or two more next year.