APRIL IN THE GARDEN

2 Apr 2012 | 0 comments

We cannot quite believe that April has come around so soon. March was a busy month with lots of sowings, cultivating, planting out and continually harvesting. Although the salad has been a bit fiddly picking due to slug damage we have still managed to harvest over 100kg from the tunnels since the end of winter. We have begun harvesting spring greens, continued picking purple and white sprouting broccoli and kale and started pulling spring onions from the tunnel as well as continuing with the parsley, chervil and coriander.

 

Sowings throughout March have overall been successful and the propagation tunnel is full of plants that will be planted throughout this month. April is a big month for planting and signals the turnaround in the polytunnels from winter salad to summer crops. The winter salad is just beginning to flower and so leaf production is now slowing as the plants try to flower and set seed due to the change in day length and temperature. The tomatoes, cucumbers, French beans, melons, chillies and aubergines are growing well in the propagating tunnel. Some of these are growing much more rapidly in their pots compared to last year due to the warm march weather. We are hoping they will remain happy in pots until mid-late April when we will plant them out into the tunnel.

 

Most of our potatoes have been planted and we have begun to plant shallots from sets. Spring onions have also been planted out and carrots, radish, broad beans and peas have all been sown direct into the soil. We have also sown our green manure ley, which is a pure stand of red clover. This will fix nitrogen from the air into the soil throughout the summer and will then be turned in next spring before planting potatoes which are heavy feeders and so benefit from the clover. Green manures are an integral part of organic farming and growing and improve the fertility of soil as well as adding organic matter, which has huge benefits to soil structure and biodiversity.

 

Our summer salad (mainly lettuce) will be planted shortly as will chard, beets, spinach, onions and shallots (from seed). We have also started sowing herbs for the new herb garden at Trill, many of which have started germinating in the propagating tunnel.

 

Our weekly stall outside Town Mill Bakery in Lyme Regis starts up again on the 7th April where we will be selling vegetables, plants and other farm produce throughout the spring, summer and autumn every Saturday.

March in the Kitchen

5 Mar 2012 | 0 comments

It’s a quiet time in the garden at the moment, so this month we’d like to share our recipe for Lemon Barley Biscuits. We grow this nutritious grain at Trill and are demonstrating the range of delicious dishes that can be made with the grain and flour at our Barley Tasting day on 20th March, we hope you’ll be able to join us!

Trill Lemon Barley Biscuits

150g unsalted butter, very soft

150g sugar

1 large free-range egg

Juice and zest of one lemon

175g barley flour

50g dried cranberries or blueberries

2 baking trays lined with non-stick baking parchment

Heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4

Put the soft butter, sugar, egg, barley flour and lemon into a bowl and beat thoroughly. Stir in the dried fruit. Take a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and put it onto a prepared tray, using another teaspoon to push the mixture off the spoon and into a rough mound, flatten slightly. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, spacing the mounds apart to allow for spreading. Bake for about 15 minutes until a light golden brown. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a minute, then carefully transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container and eat within four days. 

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!

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