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Our Walled Garden Update!

Ali W here! I paid a visit to the Arthur’s Organics (Soil Association Certified) Walled Garden recently and I must say everything is looking amazing. I’m sure most of you have been enjoying the fresh produce in your box, and much of it is directly from the walled garden at the moment which is fantastic in many ways. Matt Turnbull gave me some really good updates, (as well as some fantastic pictures to go with my own) and it was so good to see the produce looking healthy and tasty. Read on!

Much time has been spent weeding lately, bringing in new techniques as well as just blooming hard work! Our volunteers are really appreciated, and they have contributed hugely to the success of the garden this year. Erica and Clare were busy at work, removing many many weeds, dockleafs, fat hen and more, I’m amazed at how much grows, and so quickly, especially with the weather we’ve had.

Productive surface weeding, and using new techniques to the garden, including a nifty oscillating hoe (see video!), means the team have been able to remove weeds from larger areas much quicker and is simply more productive. Weed control is such a difficult part of the work that’s done in the garden, and as we never use chemical pesticides and herbicides, the weeds are free to grow alongside the produce, and the team are forever removing them. The wheelbarrow of weeds you’ll see in the picture actually looks quite beautiful, however of course we need them in the compost heap, not competing with the yummy produce.

The Cocarde lettuces I saw a good few weeks ago have really grown well, they are a loose leaf lettuce variety for the bags, and unlike some of the other lettuces they seem to be keeping the slugs at bay. We harvest the individual leaves up the stem and lift the growing head off the ground. This helps with slug damage. We are also test planting other butterhead lettuce varieties to see if we can find a flavour the slugs don’t enjoy as much! The large leeks are nearly ready for your weekly veg box, the second succession following soon, and the parsnips were planted quite early this year, so we may need to harvest next week without the usual frost to help make them even sweeter.

Matt’s beetroot experiment (inspired by Charles Dowding) has been a huge success, the planting out in various different sized clumps/clusters really worked well – a productive use of the soil. The harvesting is really interesting, just gently release one from the cluster – the larger cluster of 4 worked the best, which is excellent news for next season – we’re able to fit more produce in smaller space, with less weeds 🙂

Yep it’s approaching Halloween time, and the squashes are looking amazing, some have been harvested already. I’ve never seen such a shiny and varied mix! Blue Kuri, and the Amoro amongst others. The Amoro was the best performing one last year. Crops potentially failing is always a worry, and particularly in organic growing where everything is left to nature as much as possible, so Matt decided to intersperse some beetroot with some of the squash patches to make sure we make best use of the soil in case a crop fails.

My favourite, Sweetcorn, is nearly ready, and the two successions are looking fabulous. The chard colours seemed more vibrant than I’ve ever seen before, and I’m sure most of you have been enjoying the taste too, as we have.

Over in the Polytunnel everything has sprouted up magically since I last visited in July. The healthy huge basil plants are a wonderful assault on the senses – it literally smells of fresh basil in the whole tunnel. I’ve never seen such big leaves on organic basil plants. The huge cucumbers have done really well too, as have the aubergines – both firsts for us! The tomatoes looked interesting and the flavours are really starting to develop now as we move later in the season, and there are some interesting green peppers that we await to see more progress on. The random squash plant that Matt attached to the framework near the roof is huge now with lots of squashes starting to appear – it’s all about making as much use of the space as possible and being creative on how you do that

In the future I look forward to seeing more, as Autumn approaches, so watch out for another update soon. In the meantime, we encourage you to get involved – come and see us, and help out, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best organic and truly local produce around. Just get in touch via Social Media or the website, which has our phone/email on. Bye for now, Ali W.

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Our Walled Garden Update for July!

Ali W here! It’s my walled garden update, where some (quite a lot at the moment!) of your produce that you receive in your veg box, is grown. Thank you to our very own Matt Turnbull for the extra photos – the full gallery is at the end of the article!

It’s harvest time in full effect in the garden, with lettuces abound, lovely butterhead lettuce (marvel of four seasons) and Saladin (crisp green variety), and also the Cocarde loose leaf which in particular is really interesting, as in addition to harvesting the full plant, you can also remove individual leaves for salad packs – you may have noticed that over the past couple of weeks. We also have fantastic sweet spring onions (the best I have ever tasted), parsley and rhubarb, to name just a few. Before I arrived, Graham had lifted a few of the Casablanca potatoes to see progress, and they looked amazing, but still a little bit small, so they will be left for a while longer.

In the polytunnel, Matt has been busy with the tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers (which look like tiny gherkins at the moment!), peppers, fabulous looking aubergines at their baby stage, and lovely herbs, particularly the basil (green and red) which he is harvesting a little of each week to optimise the plants’ yield. The red basil has a slightly different fragrance and zingy flavour compared to the green, not something you’d see every day, and certainly not in the popular supermarkets. Matt has been busy pruning lots of unneeded side shoots on various plants, so that the rest of the plant can concentrate on producing flowers and then veg. In addition, I saw a nifty looking truss support for the aubergines, with a sliding knot to allow for various growing stages of the plant – genius! The marigold companion planting not only looks beautiful, it’s also keeping the greenfly and other little pests away from the main crop. Matt is also working on creating a climbing french bean seed (blue lake) from our own plants, for use next year – a first for us at Arthur’s. In the future he hopes to use his training to supply the seed co-operative, so nice to be able to share and reciprocate.

Graham tells me that there are brussel sprouts, kales and swedes in the pipeline, as the team try to extend the growing season – this is sounding very festive to me…. Extending the season means that even more produce comes directly from our walled garden going forwards, reducing our carbon footprint even more. It’s certainly exciting times, and the healthy looking parsnips plants that I saw are definitely part of the journey, as they will be lifted later on in the year., as well as more chard that is so usefully cut and come again.

As I finalise this write up, I’ve also just seen some news from Matt about of a couple of visitors to the garden, some small lizards and a grass snake! Lizards like to nibble on things like strawberries, so we’ll keep our eye out for them 🙂  Grass snakes tend to like small animals like vermin, so can be very helpful in the ecosystem of organic gardening!

Our volunteers are always greatly appreciated – we cannot thank you enough, and the day I visited, Erica and Lizzy had been a brilliant help to Matt, helping to plant out courgettes and squashes to name just a few. Erica’s Mum is in her late eighties, and it was her Mum’s Birthday, so she was busy harvesting some beautiful looking strawberries directly from the beds as a gift. Meanwhile Trevor, Emilia, Kerry, Josh, Julie and Simon have also been a brilliant help, helping out with various tasks…. the rain and sun combination has been fantastic lately, and as per the yin/yang philosophy this is accompanied by monumental amounts of weeds popping up! Since organic growing avoids chemical interventions, we leave nature to take its course wherever we can, including never using chemical pesticides or fertilisers. It’s as nature intended and organic is simply (and scientifically) more nutritious…. and also great for the mind, body and soul. 

We’re always looking for volunteers to come to Rise and help us out on Monday’s; if you make the journey to see us, we’ll duly reward you with fresh, organic veg, straight from the garden. Just get in touch. Well that’s all for now – I look forward to the next update, and I hope you do too! Ali 🙂

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Our Walled Garden Update!

Ali W here! Lots of progress in the walled garden, and as I’ve been sunning myself and enjoying the thrill rides at Thorpe Park, my mini update is virtual this time! thank you to Matt and Suzi for the pictures and information from last week, with a few addendums from this week! The image gallery is below this post! As you can see, the three kinds of radishes are looking yummy and box ready, so those of you who were lucky enough to receive them should be enjoying their spicy goodness by now. At the moment we have French Breakfast 2, Cherry belle and Rudi, however our ant friends that I observed in my in-person update a couple of weeks back are partial to the Rudi’s, so Matt has decided to replace those with Cherry belles. It’s been watering central, Matt tells me, due to the dry weather, and the nights are exceptionally cold which provides quite a challenge! The unusual wild tomato varieties I mentioned in my last garden update are growing bigger by the day, and they should be ready to plant out very soon, we also have some for sale as there are a lot to spare. The plants look really healthy and strong. (UPDATE!!! Matt and co have managed to avoid the overnight frosts, and the tomatoes are now in-situ in the polytunnel!) Some Yellow Submarines and a Ruthje Red at the end of the bed!) Planting out in mind, Rohan and Paul have been busy working hard, planting the first of the lettuces/salads out, which is much appreciated. They seem to love the soil in the walled garden, and we’ve had success with them in the past so we look forward to more this year. The 2nd early potatoes are also now in the ground Sweetcorn!! a personal favourite of mine, has now been sown and has germinated, as has the chard and basil. The magnificent sweetcorn plants certainly love the sunshine that the garden experiences. Meanwhile in the polytunnel, the frill harvest is coming to a close, and we hope those of you that had them in your salad bags enjoyed their buoyant texture and flavour. The polytunnel is now being transitioned now to summery goodness, including the aubergine, chillis, cucumbers and herbs that I mentioned last time. Some long white icicle radishes have just been planted, and they will replace the golden frills. The inclement periods of weather mean the plants needed their fleece coverings at the moment, but hopefully we can take that off soon. The beetroot planted out by team Rohan and Paul is progressing nicely, and the tiny seedlings seem to be appreciating their bed of organic goodness; organic gardening doesn’t use any chemical pesticides or fertilisers, our soil is so good and expertly cared for, so that we don’t need to use anything unnatural to get great results. Matt has been busy reading, this time it’s the fascinating book ‘Fields of Farmers’ all about mentoring and internship in regenerative farming by well respected Joe Salatin from Polyface farms in the USA and meanwhile Suzi has been bird spotting with the arrival of a Jackdaw nest and a watchful Mum overseeing her new home. Volunteering is still working well here, we love the atmosphere and energy you all bring, and appreciate the time and help everyone puts in. If you fancy coming down to see us on a Monday, you’ll be rewarded with fresh veg for your hard work!!! just get in touch via Facebook to find out more. Bye for now! Ali W.