Tag Archives: planting

The last of the mohicans

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…. I’ve been waiting all summer to use that weak pun!

The lettuce season is drawing to a close and we are now picking the last of our Red Batavia, one variety of which is called ‘Mohican.’  A deep red colour, the Mohican has stood up surprisingly well in the grim weather. Red lettuce, having less chlorophyll in the leaves, is less vigorous than green varieties and hence more susceptible to pest and disease as it sits in the ground for longer. Next week it will all be gone along with the last of our Cos. Apart from some Radicchio in a few weeks time that will be pretty much it for the year.

Looking forward to next year’s crops, we are busy planting over-wintered onions as well as garlic cloves (to harvest as wet garlic in the spring). Along with the winter salad pack for the polytunnels, these will be the last plants to go into the ground for the year. After that it’s just a matter of crossing our fingers and hoping for more favourable growing conditions than we’ve had of late.

Ed

Ed’s Farm Blog – Springing into inaction

wet garlicOur early season crops are usually planted in fields across the valley from us, as they are broadly southfacing and warm up quicker with well-drained soil to allow early planting. As these can’t be irrigated we rely on the usual April showers to water them for us. Last year the long dry spell actually meant that some of the lettuce got stressed, bolted, and we lost a fair amount of the crop. Not this year! Below average temperatures mean that the crops are growing more slowly than hoped, but there is certainly no lack of water.

Continual rainfall such as we are experiencing at present brings its own set of problems, however. At this time of year we would be frantically planting, fleeceing, brushweeding and hoeing our lettuce, spinach, summer greens and so on; but not now. The fields are simply too wet to cultivate and a short break in the weather is little help as they need a minimum of 2-3 days (sometimes more depending on the soil) to dry out enough to work.

Fortunately for our staff there has been plenty to do in the polytunnels: Manuring, putting up supports for tomatoes, and plenty of hand planting. But as this begins to draw to a close we can forsee a few quiet weeks ahead whilst we wait for the crops we have to come on and pray for a break in the weather.

On the up side our wet garlic is looking good; this was planted as individual cloves that we broke up from whole bulbs in late October and early November. The two varieties we grow are Germidor and Messidrome as they produce large cloves: and usually the larger the clove you plant, the larger the wet garlic you produce.

So a mixed spring so far. To quote the philosopher from Morecombe, “bring me sunshine…”

Penny’s Gardening Blog – Part 5

Gosh, its three weeks since I posted my last blog already. How time flies! Being a gardener and grower this time of year is pretty full on. I have lots of clients I work for on a weekly basis as well as preparing my field where I grow flowers and am also busy propagating plants to go in it. So life is hectic and I am slightly overwhelmed by the impending season. But it is also a very exciting time of year in the garden with the first signs of growth and plenty of plants in flower. In this blog I am going to give you all a reminder and do a final push on our boxes to grow. I will suggest some general gardening tasks and wax lyrical about spring flowering plants.

Boxes to grow

Veg, Herb and cut flower gardening kits

April is nearly here and deliveries of our vegetable and herb boxes to grow will be going out imminently, cut flower kits a bit later.  It’s not too late to order one as we have a few left. I don’t want to bang on too much about it but these kits are great value and a fabulous way to  kick start  your gardens in one fail swoop. No decisions on what to grow or where to get it all from. We have used our experts to select good tried and tested varieties to give you the best chance of success and comprehensive advice on how to plant and grow these are also included in the boxes. I will also be supporting you with my gardening blogs and here to answer your queries.

If you have already ordered one remember to do the recommended site preparation we have on our website.

gardening blogMarch in the garden

I have taken some photos of some plants I love that are flowering now. Its good practice to keep your eyes open  when out and about and observe good companion plantings around you and maybe think of incorporating these into your garden spaces to improve what you already have. In the foreground a red Camelia, clematis armandii climbing through a tree and in the background a magnolia tree.

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A close up of Clematis armandii. You can grow this evergreen climber up a wall,trellis,fence or through a tree. It has lovely glossy foliage its quite happy planted in more shady positions.

Hellebores are an absolute favorite of mine.

Hellebores

Once big enough they can be split after flowering and replanted to increase your stock. I have done this in this little woodland area over the years and it really looks a picture at this time of year with the under planted periwinkle and primroses in flower too.

white double Hellebore

This white double Hellebore is particularly pretty and looks great with Euphorbia as a backdrop

Jobs in the garden

 

WEEDING This is the time of year to have a jolly good ‘spring clean’ in your gardens. Perennial plants are just beginning to grow again. Before things get too tall its an ideal time to really get in there and give your beds a jolly good weed. I have problems in a fair few gardens with perennial weed such as bind weed, couch grass and ground elder.  Gardening organically I would not use weed killers as they are detrimental to the wildlife in our gardens and leave nasty deposits in the soil too. Keeping these nasty weeds at bay is the answer. If you’re feeling thorough, this might mean digging up a perennial clump and teasing the roots of the said weed out and replanting the clump. Remember…DO NOT put these weeds in your compost heaps.

DIVIDING up over crowded perennial clumps can be done now. Dig out the clump and put a sharp spade blade through the centre of the clump to cut it in half or more if necessary.

COMPOST  I have a rather tired body, being rather ancient doesn’t help and nor does the kind of work I have been doing the last few weeks emptying a fair few compost heaps in various gardens in the area. It is quite satisfying though to see what you have produced from simply garden waste.

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This is great stuff to spread on to your beds, around the plants and lightly fork in. It will improve the soil and act as a mulch helping the soil to retain moisture. As a lot of us are already being threatened with hose pipe bans this is pretty essential.

In My Next Gardening Blog

As my seedlings are not ready for transplanting yet I will leave this till next time possibly with a video clip…heres hoping!

Ed’s Farm Blog – Splitting the rhubarb

organic rhubarbRhubarb is a perennial crop that comes back year after year; but after a time the crowns become tired and crowded out by weeds and yield consequently suffers. Some of our rhubarb has been in the ground for five years now and it is time to move on to pastures new.

Last week we started going through our field, digging up some of the older plants and splitting each one into individual crowns ready for replanting. Each plant can produce as many as six or seven crowns (although three or four is more usual) which can then be put back in the ground to grow on in their own right. These transplants won’t be harvested this year as we want them to build up energy and bulk in their root system for the years ahead. Don’t worry though – we still have plenty in the field to last through this year! It will hopefully be available to order in April.

Rhubarb is usually the first major planting job of the year for us: we planted some broad beans in mid-January and some salad in the tunnels in early February (which has now germinated), but it is not until March that we really get going. After working on the rhubarb we shall have a couple of weeks grace before getting our teeth into spinach and swiss chard followed by lettuce, summer brassicas… and suddenly the relative calm of winter is over.

Penny’s Gardening Blog – Growing from Seed

In My Gardening Blog This Week

I am going to suggest some easy seed varieties to try and explain how to go about germinating them. I am sure many of you are experienced at growing plants from seeds already so bear with me if you are finding this blog simplistic but I am approaching it from the angle of teaching a novice. There is nothing more rewarding than raising plants from seeds. It feels rather miraculous and magical not unlike the feeling of having a baby, but a lot quicker and without pain! (I suppose it is creation of sorts. It’s so exciting when you first notice some movement under the soil in your seed tray and then slowly the first seed leaves appear.)

Equipment you need

Growing Space   A green house is ideal place to grow your seedlings. A polytunnel is a close runner up. A light conservatory, porch or window sill will do.

Seed trays, pots or containers. Plastic seed trays, modules and pots are widely available in garden centres but you can improvise recycling plastic containers you may have at home that have held food etc. It is important that there are drainage holes in them though. One of my friends uses the Riverford milk cartons, cut down in size and makes drainage holes in the bottom. These are waxed so hold up to being watered.

Growing media.  There are a lot of different composts out there on the market. Get one that states it is seed compost as it will be finer in texture( and therefore more suitable). Basically you need a light loose medium that retains moisture and doesn’t develop a crust.  Oxygen and water are essential for germination.

Labels.   Plant labels are crucial( as unless you’re pretty experienced,)or  you will get into rather a muddle and not know what is what when your seedlings germinate. You can buy plastic labels or recycle plastic pots and cut them into labels. I use a pencil to log the variety and date sown.

Seeds.   The following seeds (I have suggested) are pretty easy to grow ( if you give them the correct treatment). There are billions to choose from so this is literally a drop in the dark! Many of my Gardening blog readers have probably ordered one of Riverfords boxes to grow- veg, herb or flower or maybe all three. If this is the case, try and grow different varieties from the ones to be delivered to your door. The flower box to grow delivery date is later in the season than usual so maybe try and bring on some seedlings to produce some earlier flowers for yourself.

Helianthus-Sunflowers. There are many different varieties, some grown for their height (great fun for family competition) and smaller headed with a more bushy branching habit that are good for cutting.

Tropaeolum –Nasturtium.  This herb is said to attract black fly keeping them away from your veg plants such as broad beans and cabbages. It is also a favourite with hoverflies which are great to have around as their larvae eat aphids. The leaves and flowers can be added to salads although it is said you should not consume more than 30gms a day.

Borago officianalis-Borage.  This herb is a fantastic companion plant, the blue flower being attractive to bees hence aiding pollination. It is equally attractive in the flower or vegetable garden. The flowers can be pinched off and used to add to a gin and tonic or a summer Pimms. They also look great added to a salad along with nasturtium and calendula flowers.

Lathyrus odoratus-Sweet Peas.  These are a must in any garden and are really pretty fool proof. They will provide you with flowers right through to the first frosts as long as you keep cutting them so stopping them from going to seed. I prefer the old fashioned varieties, although they have smaller flowers, they are daintier and are far more scented.

Sowing seeds in seed trays or pots or modules.

I really wanted to do a little video of sowing seeds to run alongside this blog but have been struck down with the lurgy and unable to get out there.

Put some compost into your chosen container and gentle tap to settle the compost, not quite filling to the top. You can sow in rows, individually or broadcast over the surface. Now cover with a layer of compost. The depth to which your seed should be covered is dependent on its size. Generally speaking it should be covered by about the same depth of compost as the seed size itself, so for very small seed, covered with an equally small depth of compost and for larger seeds with a deeper layer. Now gently firm down the compost with your hand and label the container with the variety and date sown. Water in, using a watering can with fine rose attached. For very fine seed use  a mister so as not to dislodge the seeds.

Place your containers in a light warm situation and keep your containers moist at all times but not drenched. You may need to water once a day.

Some people like to cover their seed trays etc with a pane of glass or a clear plastic bag to give extra warmth. This is fine but be careful as the seedlings emerge that they don’t get scorched by direct sunlight.

Check for unwanted intruders such as slugs and snails on a daily basis, being careful to look at the underside of the containers as this is where they often hide.

In My Next Gardening Blog

I will be look at gardening tasks for March and how to grow on germinated seedlings

Ed’s Farm Blog – loo roll in the polytunnels

Ed's Farm Blog - Organic SaladI’m Ed Scott, and I work on the Riverford Organic’s founding farm in Devon. The plan is that I’ll be writing a regular farm blog, showing you what we’re growing and how we’re growing it.

It’s now the beginning of February, and we are busy picking leeks and the last of our curly kale from the fields. We have also just laid the last of our winter salad pack in the polytunnels. The majority of our salads are block-planted through a plastic mulch, and treated as ‘cut-and-come-again’ crops; these can be picked between three and five times, dependant on type and variety.

As well as the blocks, a proportion of our salad leaf plants come in seed matting; a large spool of seeds sandwiched between plastic and a blotting-paper like material. Much like cress grown on loo roll at home, upon germination the roots reach through the paper into the soil below, while the leaf pushes up through tiny slits pre-cut in the plastic. This system has the advantage of lower plant and planting costs whilst ensuring the crop is not swamped with weeds; and although we have mixed feelings about the volume of plastic used, it’s actually no more than that used in our traditional block planted system.

TEd's Organic Farm Bloghe disadvantage of this system is that the seed matting doesn’t work with all plants and can only be cropped once; our first planting went in during October and was harvested in the run-up to Christmas. The rolls laid this week should be ready for harvesting in late March. Keep an eye out for further pictures showing progress through the growing stages.

Ed Scott
Assistant Harvest Manager

Growing kohlrabi in devon

Taking advantage of a nice, sunny day, we decided to go oTractor and planter at Wash Farm, Devonut to the fields on our farm in Devon to see the kohlrabi being planted. These were raised in a nursery and come  to us in modules. Our field workers sit on a planter which is pulled along behind a tractor and drop the plants into moving cups which puts them into the ground.

Once they’re bigger, we will use a steerage hoe to get rid of the weeds and if the weather is too dry, they will be irrigated. These were planted in mid May and are likely to be harvested around mid July.

planting kohl rabi in Devonplanting kohl rabi at Riverford Organic farmkohl rabi on wash farm, Devon

Globe artichokes in devon

planting globe artichokes at Riverford

planting globe artichokes

On a wet and grey Thursday in early May, we took a look out on the fields behind the Field Kitchen at our farm in Devon to see the globe artichokes being planted. The rain is ideal for them, but not so great for the guys in the fields!

The wet ground means we can’t plant them by machine, but it also means they should get off to a great start and we will be picking them around August to October.

planting globe artichokes at Wash Farmplanting globe artichokes at Wash Farmgrowing globe artichokes at Riverford in Devonglobe artichokes at Riverford Organic farm

Planting plum trees

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Raphael and John (who’ve been at Riverford for over 5 years) have been planting Victoria plum trees on our Devon farm this week – over 720 of them. This year they’ll look beautiful as they flower and next year the fruit will come. We’ll just have to be patient!

They’ve planted the trees at a 30 degree angle and attached them to wires running horizontally. You can see the trees are in open space to let the wind blow through rather than blowing them over and that lovely organic fertiliser (mainly chicken poo) will help get them going in the early days.

Planning for the future

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The tiny leek seedlings we are out planting now will mean many tasty soups and stir-fries for you over the autumn and winter months ahead.