March in the Garden

5 Mar 2012 | 0 comments

From the end of February an increase in day length and light levels have led to much more rapid growth of salad and herbs in the tunnel. It always happens at this time of the year and is a sign that we can start harvesting our salad more heavily for the restaurants, as it grows back very quickly after being cut. Outside the overwintered broad beans that survived the bird attack are putting on much more growth and the garlic is looking very strong. There is not much else outside at the moment, but sowings of further broad beans and peas will be made very shortly, and a further 100m of jerusalem artichokes will be planted.

We received our strawberries last week, a few of which are planted in one of the polytunnels and the rest planted outside. All of our soft fruit bushes also arrived and have been planted.

Last year we had a big problem with creeping thistle in the garden, so we decided this year to plough the worst affected areas to try and bring the roots to the surface. Creeping thistle is a pernicious weed that is very difficult to get rid of, but can be done over a few years. It creeps underneath the soil and can spread up to 12m a year and so if left unchecked can become a real problem. Although it produces a lot of seed, much of this is not viable and much of the thistle down that is seen on a breezy summer day contains very little seed, and of that most is not viable. Its greatest way of spreading is by its underground creeping roots that will re-grow if hoed off at the wrong time of the year. On areas that are not being planted until later spring we are planning to cultivate the ploughed area and sow a fast growing green manure such as mustard or phacelia to try and compete with the thistle by shading it out. This will then be cultivated back in to the soil, which will add organic matter before being planted into. Fingers crossed for the 2012 battle against the creeping thistle!

So, the most obvious thing that has happened so far in March has been the ploughing which has been done a month earlier than the previous two years due to the dry weather allowing us to get onto the land with a tractor without causing too much compaction.

In the propagating house all of our onions and shallots are germinating, as are the tomatoes, peppers, chillies and aubergines and the lettuce are all growing well. We will be sowing french beans for growing in the polytunnel very shortly as well as beetroot, chard, spinach, celeriac and a sowing of some of the oriental leaves before the flea beetle come along in the summer.

March always feels like the garden has finally woken up and is a critical time for sowings, plantings and cultivations. It is an exciting time for us – lots of hope as seedlings emerge and very few weeds are about!


3 Feb 2012 | 0 comments

Purple sprouting broccoli has  always been an absolute favourite of mine. The purple haze in Ash & Kate's garden is a wonderful crop of purple sprouting broccoli and just the best I've ever tasted..  Despite plummeting temperatures, it survives, to give us the most wonderful nourishment. A big bowl cooked with warming spices was shared at lunch this week and quite delicious. Full of anti-oxidants to ward off flu & colds and spices to keep us warm in the chilly Winter months. 


Purple sprouting broccoli with coriander seeds, chillies & ginger

4 handfuls sprouting broccoli

2 tablespoons olive oil

6  tablespoons stock

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed

1 chilli, finely diced

2 teaspoons grated ginger

black pepper and salt

splash of tamari


Cook the sprouted broccoli in the olive oil and stock until stock evaporates.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and serve.


2 Jan 2012 | 0 comments

Its currently a relatively quiet time out on the farm, as both our breeding cows and sheep graze through as much of the winter as possible without being fed hay or silage. So we are only feeding last spring's weaned calves, then checking the remaining stock. All the male lambs were sold just before Christmas, leaving us with all our female lambs from which we will pick our new breeding ewes next year. This is the calm before the storm, as calving and lambing will begin in early March and then it's a busy two months with long days. It's just as well it's quiet at the moment, as Neil, who does much of the day to day stock work decided to break his leg on New Years day! I'm hoping he will rest it enough to be fully recovered in time for lambing and calving - otherwise it will be a very challenging spring indeed! Life is never dull at Trill!