Week 16 of the growing season.
The seeds are fine, it’s just too freaking dry! Over concerns about the awful germination rates (as in, like, next to nothing growing in the last few weeks) I worried that the shed became so hot as to cook the seeds. Nope, the seeds are fine. Frustratingly I cannot water the plot any more than I am currently, and I anticipate that efforts to mechanise the watering (sprinklers and a timer) would annoy people. This drought is unusual, but unusual is increasingly occuring. I am now turning to design to help provide shade to hopefully reduce evaporation next year. Shade cloth is one option, but costly. Currently I am thinking of growing new potatoes, winter squash or basil as a yield producing shade provider.
No salad harvest this week due to poor germination, but the transplants are taking names and kicking ass at the moment. 50 x 50g baby courgettes, and 15 x 50g cucumbers (50g per week seems to be the average gain from flower to fruit over that time), and 250g of dill. £9 from the salad stall, best week yet! I think there is a magnetism provided by crop diversity when it comes to the stall. Restaurants and catering is totally the way to go for bulk (specialised) salad growing income, but for the low hanging fruit of an (unstaffed) honesty stall – diversity is definitely the route. I feel, for now, that aiming for diversity and getting a solid base of a few hundred pounds a year will be more context appropriate than bulk restaurant greens. As a full time carer, a parent of small humans and a vehicle-less muggle, I just don’t see it happening in the next year alone. So, more species and more transplants next year I feel!
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 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.
Summertime allotment days bring me joy.
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.
The perennial plot in mid June 2018. Over 1000 baby fruit and medicine plants from about 30 different plant species.
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.
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 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).
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.