Diversity in the Garden

2 Oct 2019 | 0 comments

Autumn brings us the chance to take a deep breath and reflect on what we have achieved through the year. It often feels like a sudden change from the intensity of summer work in the garden to the slower pace of autumn and the adjustment can be quite difficult at times. However, it is absolutely essential for us all to slow down a little and feel a bit less pressured.

It is a time for us to look at what has worked well and what not so well so that we can make improvements to our crop plans for next year. We make notes throughout the year rather than relying on our memories. The planning takes a while but is so necessary to try to get the most out of the garden, through putting in different successions, allowing space for seed crops and ensuring that we continue to try out new and old varieties. 

A big part of what we do is ensuring there is a great diversity in the garden, whether that is through the crops that we grow, the varieties that we choose or the work that we do and the way we manage the land. We are not interested in just growing one crop or one variety, and although we focus on salad leaves as our main crop, we grow a wide range of other crops and varieties. This results in an interesting place to work as well as a garden that is home to a diverse range of habitats. 

We also choose to cultivate the land in different ways, but generally use techniques that minimise soil disturbance, which will lead to stronger soil health, improved drainage and healthier plants. 

Producing seed crops fits into this beautifully as it not only means that we are maintaining varieties that are suited to our soil and growing conditions, but also allows for plants to reach their full maturity and in doing so providing nectar and shelter for many beneficial insects that fit into the ecology of the garden. 

This year we have produced red mizuna, Navet de Nancy turnip, Painted Lady sweet peas, Beauregarde purple snow peas, many varieties of tomatoes, a couple of lettuce varieties and Black Hungarian chillies, and we have Golden Chard and Tender and True parsnips in the ground awaiting selection in the winter (we will then replant the selected plants and allow them to flower before harvesting and processing the seed). 

Not only does this work help to maintain genetic diversity by keeping some of these old varieties alive, but it also challenges us as growers to learn new skills and in doing so keeps our work interesting and diverse.

Ash and Kate run Trill Farm Garden, supplying the Old Dairy Kitchen and many other local restaurants with fresh, seasonal and varied produce, employing and training many people as they grow. 

Visit the course page to find out more about Landworkers' Skills Courses run by Ash.