Lettuce Explain...

Organic LettucesThe first lettuces you get in Spring are the red salad bowl on the right of the picture, this is a reliable cold tolerant lettuce with little disease problems which we start sowing in February. The other lettuce you see are red batavian and little gem which we grow throughout the season in the tunnels now. We grow a red/green butterhead variety outside as well but with the poor summers we are having now this is getting like a bad habit. Maybe we should grow lettuces under cover only, but then it will be beautifull weather throughout the summer of course. Hum, maybe we should.

New House for Adrian

After what can only be described as one of those typical episodes of grand design with obnoxious kit supplier and contractors, our rural affordable house, called Talan, is build and ready for occupation. And not without us doing a lot of the work ourselves.

Pictured is Freya who has viritually managed the project by herself, hence the grey hairs, handingover the keys to Adrian who now not only works but also lives here. Can we now put our feet up? I wonder...

The Roof of the World

The roof of the world, or rather the roof of our double span polytunnel after a night of heavy snow and drifting. Just dug the gutter clean and now I will have to scoop and carry what feels like tons of snow of the plastic to the ends to prevent the tunnel from collapsing. A regular winter activity but this year there seemed to be no end of it. Plenty of snowmiles this year.

Implements on the Move

Lembas Organics cultivatorThis steerage cultivator, fabricated by very local blacksmith Johannes van Midden seen on the forklift, and a few other tractor implements are being shipped to a local colleague. We do not really have the amount and the quality of land and staff to grow the range of outdoor crops we would like to offer you. Hopefully these implements will find a better home and more local produce will come on the market. We will keep on producing veg from 1/4 acre of polytunnels which seems to get a bit easier each year. Touch wood.

Filling Up and Feeling Good

Filling up with BiodieselWe are switching all our vehicles over to biodiesel. And along with buying our electricity from windfarms and heating our house with wood, it feels good to be part of creating a post-fossil fuel world. It means for me realising some ideals I already had as a youngster when these type of ideals along with recycling and growing food without artificial fertilisers and toxic sprays were dismissed as pipedreams. There is still a long way to go but I find the progress these last few years quite exhilarating. Hurrah for change!

Strawberry Time

Strawberry TimeWe aim to have strawberries from end of May untill August. This works for our shop but due to quantities being very irregular we have only strawberries available at times for our other customers.

The first half of the season we have strawberries under cover, during the end of June and July we pick strawberries outside.

The costs of using the tunnels and of high number of plants we use and the picking is high and although the strawberries are not cheap it is not our best earning crop but possibly the most popular. The berries certainly are very nice, which must be due to the plants growing in the soil and getting everything they need.

Conventional berries look the job but fertilizers and fungicides are used very intensively and I would not be surprised if these berries are missing some mineral or other which makes strawberries a healthy food and of course I do not trust chemical residues at all.

But having said that I hope for nice weather for our outside crop so we can offer you some nice strawberries and I won't have to look at our fruit moulding away which is a real risk with organic berries outside.

Radishes and lettuces

Raddishes and LettucesRadishes are one of our fast growing spring crops. The first December sowing is usually ready late March and we now grow about 100 bunches a week for two months only. Radishes are followed in this tunnel by little gem lettuces on the right. Radishes are actually not all that easy to grow, carefull watering is very important to prevent slug damage, splitting and roots getting hollow. For these early crops we choose a short top radish which does not grow enormous leaves. A neat green top makes a radish more presentable.

Building Program Completed

Shed buildingOver the last ten years we have build ten sheds and ten polytunnels and we had one house built.

This last shed, for storing tractor and implements and the like, is a bit of a mile stone as  this marks the end of our building programme as far as the business is concerned. We are now adequately equiped for packing and storage of fresh produce, for producing eggs and growing vegetables. The latter the only area of our work where we are still struggling to make a profit as the market for our type vegetables is still very small and we are still finding out what is wanted and what we can produce for an affordable price. Very tricky.

We are now looking to see what we can do to come towards the need for sustainable affordable housing for our staff.

Very tricky as well.

Real Spinach

I Yam What I YamOn the picture you see real spinach in various stages of growth. We hope to have spinach available the whole of March/April. During most of the  year we grow leafbeet which we offer as spinach. Leafbeet is more related to beetroot then to real spinach but is the more reliable cropper as it does not run to seed as quickly as real spinach does. Leafbeet is also good as a cut and come again crop. Real spinach, however, grows better during the winter and this crop on the picture has been sown during October/November and harvesting has started end of February. On the t-shirt it says I yam what I yam. Should you be yamming? Plenty spinach available at the moment.

Lambs Lettuce

Lambs LettuceOn the picture for the first time ever: overwintered lambs lettuce. Normally we have lambs lettuce available in Autumn only. It is risky to let it overwinter in the tunnels but we planted this crop in wide spacings instead of sowing it in dense rows like we normally do and it seems to have paid off. Lambs lettuce is the better tasting winter salad and a good locally grown alternative to imported lettuce.


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