Tuesday, 17 April 2012

April on Ripple Farm (part 2)

Part 2 of whats happening at Ripple in April.......
Early spuds grown under perforated plastic to bring the harvest forward (is it better environmentally to grow a small amount this way or import them from Egypt for a week or two (or keep eating wrinkly old ones a bit longer))?

And looking through the hedge at ridges of our main crop potatoes in Olantigh Field,
 our chalky soil is almost white here as it rises up towards the downs.

Spring onions off to a good start

Rows of mini craters where there should be rows of broad beans, wireworm (the larvae of click beetle) are attacking
from underneath, and rooks are pulling up the small plants to eat the wireworm!

So we're sowing broad beans in seed trays to transplant, we wil not be beaten!

I spent a peaceful Saturday afternoon planting strawberry plants in the shelter of the walled garden, we grow them through these 'mypex' sheets to help with weed control, as the plants will be in the ground for a few years. It also to help conserve the moisture in the soil and keeps the berries cleaner than if they were grown in bare earth.
In the gender specific world of plant breeding, the varieties I planted are 'Alice', 'Christine', 'Florence' and 'Honeyeye'
Compare those to a few brassica varieties - 'Samson', 'Ironman' , 'Supervoy and 'Duncan' !!

We'd love to have patchwork fields of many colours (and sometimes we do) but here we have patchworks of crop covers to protect our new plantings, as there are plenty of pests out there ready to take more than their fair share of our crops.
There are some baby kale plants under there, but there will be a gap in availability before these are ready to harvest
 (we're coming up to the 'Hungry Gap' time of year for UK vegetable growers)

It doesn't look much yet, but here's one of our 'bee food' phacelia strips, which has self seeded
and will soon be in flower again.

And finally, one of the damson trees in our hedges in flower.

April at Ripple

April is a very busy month on the farm, we're still harvesting lots of over-wintered crops as well as sowing and planting the new season's ones. Although the South East, like many other areas, is officially in drought, we have had enough rain (but not too much) during March and April to enable us to get our potatoes planted, as well as most of our onions and garlic. We've sown spinach and salad direct, and transplanted early cabbages, kales, chard and others.

It's that time of year when our over-wintered greens just want to spread their seed, so they head skywards, looking very pretty as they flower, and very tasty in our stir fry bags. First to go are the brassicas:-

Majestic Red Russian Kale in flower

Red curly kale growing skywards (and dancing, or just a windy day)

'Green-in-snow' mustard leaf, going to seed but we already have
 new sowings of salad leaves ready to harvest from a polytunnel

Salad rocket in flower (the flowers are very tasty in a salad)
The over-wintered spinach and chard will go to seed soon too but we have
some time to harvest the new spring regrowth first

Lettuce transplanted in a polytunnel, and rows of newly sown salad leaves
New Season's Pak Choi ready to harvest.

(I'm having a few problems uploading photos to this post, so part 2 of April goings on to follow soon!)