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 🙂