Category: saladstarter

Week 15. Holy leafbeet and curcurbits (Batman…

Week 15.

Holy leafbeet and curcurbits (Batman)! The summer leafbeet (bulls blood beetroot leaves) is in for the salad mix, and the first proper cucumber and courgette harvest too this week. The older courgettes are showing signs of blossom end rot, so I am picking them when they are thumb sized just in case. Cherry tomatoes soon, and even some signs of sweet peppers on the way!

However, definite problems on the horizon. Something is negatively impacting germination/survival of basically everything I have been planting recently. This is most likely to be from the heat and lack of rain lately, and even watering daily just isn’t consistently keeping the soil moist. It also occurred to me that my seeds may have been compromised – it gets so hot in the south facing shed that the seeds may have cooked (maybe?). So I have brought some back and planted a little tray just to see if they will actually germinate still. Thankfully, everything (trans)planted before the heatwave is doing brilliantly, so I’ll at least have that going on.

700g of salad mix (80/20 mixed lettuce and leafbeet, for now), 11 x cucumbers (100g each), 50 x courgettes (50g each), 55g dill and 25g of rubbish radishes. I feel like this summer is very unusual, but I do need to plan for unusual as it is becoming more the norm now (thanks myriad of socialogical and psychological choices that have resulted in climate change). I am considering, for next year, strategies like replacing one row (of five) in each bed with a shade crop (maybe new potatoes) in order to help the summer seedings along a bit. That, and learning how to summon a cloud like in Monkey (Journey to the West).

Week 14 of the 2018 growing season. Where has…

Week 14 of the 2018 growing season.

Where has the rain gone?! I’ve been watering pretty much daily (about 300L each time) and there’s still loads of curled leaves and woody roots. There is a definite reduction in both quality and quantity of yield at the moment, most notably from the brassica family. I am giving up on spicy mix (rocket, mustard and mizuna) and kale, so instead I am experimenting with a single season round salad mix of lettuces, leafbeet and spinach. I am also giving my leftover turnip seeds from last year a go as well, but as I’ve already noticed root maggots in the radishes, then there’s a strong possibility that the turnips will get a bit savaged too (maybe the carrots and beetroot as well, but I’ll have to wait and see).

The lowest yield of salad so far this year: 300g (of lettuce), 130g of “meh” quality radishes, and about 65g of dill. Thankfully I think we’ve got cucumbers and courgettes next week (or the week after) which will be a great addition, and a great combo for the dill (both fresh and for pickling). Despite the tiny salad harvest, the Sunday Salad stall sold out this week, bringing in £6.

Next week should be a bit more standard, and it’s my first leafbeet harvest of the year, which should be interesting. There’s tons of soft fruit coming in at the moment too, which is awesome, but very little in the way of strawberries (probably from the lack of rain). Based on my understanding of how weather works from Disney movies, I just need to roar loudly from the top of Pride Rock and it will miraculously start raining. Look forward to it.

Week 13 of the 2018 growing season. Thoughts!…

Week 13 of the 2018 growing season.

Thoughts! It has been a very cognitive week. I am gradually rooting in to Instagram and YouTube, and have been getting to grips with their respective communities and “how to not be a jerk”-ness, which thankfully looks pretty straight forward as everyone is being lovely.

800g of salad mix (which was just mixed lettuce), 150g of dill and basically 50g of radishes that I ate before they got home, and was a pretty small harvest anyway. Lots of local love and £4 from the salad stall too.

So for next year, I’m thinking I’m going to ditch brassicas – no spicy mix, tatsoi or even kale. They just seem to turn to bitter wood in the dry chalky soil here. The mixed lettuce is holding its own as a standalone mix, but the summer leafbeat and autumn spinach I might try growing year round to add to it (my main concern is the spinach going to seed in the summer, so I might have to be a bit selective about the variety). I’m going to need to up my watering game I think as well, especially with the increasingly summertime weather predicted soon.

Also something I’m thinking for next year: breeding meat rabbits! The idea originated as an alternative to buying a petrol powered strimmer, for the same time and money I can have a fleet of pastured (caged) rabbits doing the job, and get about a rabbit a week to eat out of it too. I’m sure they’ll make short work of all the left over salad stems as well. The problem is the solution, yo.

Week 12 of the 2018 growing season. A slower …

Week 12 of the 2018 growing season.

A slower allotment week this time. Lots of weeding, and lots more to come. As well as the soft fruit colouring up nicely, I have been really enjoying elderflower tea (evidence indicates it is brilliant for calming a cold down) and I have been tinkering with ways to enjoy the flush of saint John’s wort flowers that are now in as well (evidence indicating it is brilliant at basically everything, an anti-inflammatory, an anti-depresant and a painkiller, to name a few things). The tea is good (kind of like thyme with a fruit hint), but not as nice as elderflower, so I’m thinking I’ll add it to some kind of medicinal syrup thing.

A smaller (but still great quality) 800g of spring mix, 550g of good radishes, and (the first this year!) 50g of dill. I am noticing a very poor performance from the brassica family things on this site, mostly the spicy mix (rocket, mustard and mizuna) and tatsoi (baby bok choi). It either bolts way too soon or gets eaten by birds. I don’t see how it is viable in an open air/field system in my context, so I’ll either need to throw more money/effort at it (netting and sprinklers) or find a different thing to grow in its place next year. I’m feeling the latter, because “meh”.

Salad Dad wishes you all a happy Father’s Day. The confused look on my children’s faces was the best gift I could have gotten this year.

Week 11. The spring mix made it to a shop! Th…

Week 11.

The spring mix made it to a shop! The local corner shop said they would try a batch (10 x 100g bags) and let me know what they think. The restaurant up the road tell me they use an aggregator company (they buy from many growers and sell it on) for their produce, so I am contacting them to see if I can supply them to some degree. I am also going to message the nursing home and primary school too. Otherwise, the little salad stall out the front made a weighty £2.

I ended up cutting next weeks salad for this week, as the beds assigned for cutting this week were half the size. I feel this is to do with both the soil quality (from previous use) but also the orientation of the plot. 2.1kg of spring mix, 1kg of good spicy mix, and 400g of good radishes. There is definately a missing ingredient to the salad growing recipe that was added on these particular beds, and I suspect it is a combination of shading and surface heat/watering. Interestingly, though, the tatsoi in this area was butchered by bird damage, perhaps also indicating.. something.

There has been lots of weeding going on, and I suspect I am going to add another compost chamber to the existing pallet composter as there’s just such a mass of plant matter now. Soft fruit season is properly starting now too, and even some of the weird ones I planted (like the wineberry) seem to be coming along great.

Week 10 of the 2018 growing season. Things ar…

Week 10 of the 2018 growing season.

Things are really getting some momentum now! Another relatively successful Sunday Salad Stall out the front, and it’s getting a lot of love from the locals. So, what’s that done to the scores? 2.2kg of spring salad mix and 300g of radishes (the spicy mix was too woody again) and £6 in from stall sales. I am chasing a few leads about supplying some restaurants, shops and aggregators, but for now I am looking to fancy up the salad stall a bit.

Now that June is here, it marks the start of soft fruit season and the promises of summer veg in a few weeks. The courgettes and cherry tomatoes are starting their first flowers now, which is exciting, and it looks like there’s lots more on the way.

Week 9 of my 2018 growing season (part 2 of 2)…

Week 9 of my 2018 growing season (part 2 of 2).

Selling! After mostly drying out the spring salad mix (I ended up having to swing the bag around a bit to “spin” a lot of the water out), I bagged it up in 100g portions (about two heaped handfuls), enough for about 3 or 4 main salad meals or a bunch of side salads. I had an unused cold frame, a fold out table and a chalk board lying around which functioned as the market stall, with our external locked letter box acting as the cash tin.

Pretty good (easy) setup, but sadly it didn’t really sell much today (£5 worth, or 3 bags). The boys absolutely loved it though, they were pretending to be “shopkeepers” all morning, so I definately think that this will be a weekly thing now regardless of how much actually gets sold. I am going to play around with the table/frame design to see if I can get something a little more effective at selling.

Week 9 of my 2018 growing season (part 1 of 2)…

Week 9 of my 2018 growing season (part 1 of 2).

That’s right, a two part-er. Many things!

I am pretty sure I have more salad in my body than I do blood at this point. It looks like I start to struggle (even on the low carb diet) after about 500g of salad mix a week. I’ve got about 300g of last weeks spring mix left still, and I turned most of the spicy mix roughly into a pesto (which is not too bad, I mixed in some olives and parmesan too which works pretty well).

Then, harvested this week, about 1.6kg of spring mix (which is mostly from lettuce, which is a real turn around from last year), about 400g of spicy mix which has gone really woody, and 400g of radishes. I have noticed a general reduction in leaf size (other than the lettuce, which is a beast), which I suspect is from spacing too closely, but I also suspect that I need to water more; not just directly to feed the plants, but also to take the edge off of the heat to hopefully slow down the salad bolting (flowering) which turns them to sticks. Alternatively, I think I could use shade cloth, but it would be a bit of a hassle to install and could cost hundreds to cover everything.

All 5 beds were clear harvested, which looks like it is going to really going to push the compost pile as there was easily a wheelbarrow full of old stems, and I reseeded the beds with the same crops. Although, instead of tatsoi, I am starting the seeding of the summer mix leaf which is leafbeet (from baby bull’s blood beetroot), and I also planted a new bed of chioggia beetroot (the white and purple ringed one, which is way less messy to eat).

Next in part 2, I will be having a go at selling! I have washed the spring mix and left it to dry in a net sack tied to the garden apple tree (the standard approach), and I will then be bagging it up and setting up a small front garden honesty stand for the morning, and just see what happens really.

Week 8 of the 2018 growing season. The first …

Week 8 of the 2018 growing season.

The first proper harvest of the year! As an experiment (to see the effect on the leaf size) I only harvested a little last week, but this time I followed the schedule which has resulted in 1kg of spring mix (mixed lettuce, kale, tatsoi), 450g of spicy mix (rocket, mustard, mizuna) and 150g of radishes. This easily beats my biggest harvest from last year using the (smaller) wicking box system. I had to go back out again for harvesting, as I was not prepared with bags enough to carry it all home the first time!

The plan this week is just to see how much salad we can eat, but we may already be looking at selling/giving away a bunch. There is no way we’d be able to afford this much organically grown salad conventionally, and even including costs like seeds, compost and even time – it is still totally worth it. Plus, it fills me with a rebellious delight that I am (relatively) independent from the mainstream food system in some way. So, this week, I am fuelled by spite. Spite, and salad.

Week 7. First (mini) harvest of the year! The…

Week 7.

First (mini) harvest of the year! There’s plenty more salad for cutting, but I held back for two reasons; next week I’m back on the low carb diet (basically it turns out to sort of be a keto diet, but it’s something I thought up back in college when I was in a nutrition class: less than 2000 calories and 50g carbs in a day) for which a ton of salad would be super useful, but also because I’ve noticed that I am still getting the same quantity of mature leaves as last year’s wicking box system, but their overall size is much smaller. This could be for a ton of reasons, so to start with I’m just observing what another weeks worth of growth will do.

Specifically, this week I harvested 70g of radishes, and 170g of mixed salad. The bags I picked up for holding the salad could easily fit a 300g portion, but I think that selling them in 100g portions (and in smaller bags) is going to be an easier sale. The taste is pretty much the same as the box system as well, which is good, but we have noticed a few more bite marks now that the salad is grown out in the open.