Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Where Ma Kiwis gone?

So we are busy clearing the land to put it back to fields but we still have one tunnel standing. I've been watching our kiwi vine recently and having a feeling that something wasent right. Turns out the kiwis have been slowly disappearing over the last few weeks, just slow enough that I didn't notice right away.
So who or what was the culprit?
well turns out the rat had acquired a sweet tooth after eating a fair few of our grapes this season and had been slowly taking away our kiwis off the vine and storing them in this convenient tyre just outside the tunnel!

I've never seen rat activity like this which may mean there is a hard winter coming or just that they are getting used to us and the tunnel and are getting more cheeky, who knows?

We probably lost half our crop to them this year which is probably 2 kgs, a real pity as they are very nice kiwis, I don't really want to eat those ones after mr. Rat has had them ;-)



Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Autumn

Well it's been a very busy year, not a very productive one, but busy all the same. I'm sure i'm not alone as a grower in questioning my vocation this year as it seemed that plants which enjoyed this weather were few and far between.
With the stress of doing our visa application, battling the weather and packing at the same time i'm really looking forward to winter, and also sad to be leaving this beautiful patch of land. It's been a long journey and I find myself stopping now and then in my work just to reflect and imprint this beautiful, rough landscape in my mind.
The new additions to the pony cultivator have worked really well: the discs being the main thing. These have enabled us to form lovely ridges crossways and lengthways in the fields to both drain and retain water as needed. They have been useful for growing root crops too and i think it's something we will continue in the States.
More to come, hopefully more regularly before we go. Only 3 months now!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

spike harrow

We seem to be coming to an understanding with Maude who is 15 years old and quite a  strong willed pony ;-),  which means we are starting to get some work done.
We are using the spike harrow to pull out any clumps of grass and to break up the soil into a nice seedbed. It takes time to get Maude into condition so we will only be doing a half hour or so a day to get her used to it.
More to follow..

Friday, 4 May 2012

Let them eat Rocket

Wow posts are getting farther and farther apart, but anyway wanted to talk a little about one of my favourite food plants, wild Rocket. I don't have a picture to hand but most people will know this jagged leaved spicy salad. We grow a lot of this in the tunnels and out in the field. Don't like to use the word too much but as a "permaculture" plant it's very useful.
Being perennial we can just let it grow each year and harvest throughout the season. It stays in permanent beds which just need a bit of weeding and mulching now and then. It's also a great mainstay to sell to restaurants while the other crops come on later in the season. I'm estimating that we will be selling over 10 kilos a week come july so it's earning it's nickname of "green gold"

Perennial plants are a real bonus for a market garden and the challenge is getting past the hype to see what a good yielding and tasty commercial crop is. A lot of promoted crops tend to be bitter or mealy, and don't quite live up to the descriptions people give to them.  We are constantly looking for more low maintenance crops that taste good, sell well and grow well together. Wild Rocket, asparagus, globe artichokes all seem to do well for us.

More posts to follow, progress is being made with our pony powerhouses and new ridging implement

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Last Season

Well folks I'd been holding out in case it would be different but it looks lie there won't be anyone to carry on the project when we are gone. The owners of the land have indicated they would not be willing to sell the land after all, and so this will be our last season.

So we've had some good years here and it will be sad to put it all back to fields, it's been a lovely experience building up the orchard and seeing the first fruit come. Just in the last year we've had a proper crop of kiwis, 50kg+ of grapes, blackcurrants, strawberries, gooseberries, myrtus ugni, apples, cherries, jostaberries and of course all of the delicious vegetables and herbs.

I've watched our local barn owl sweeping across the fields on an evening,  scythed grass on a summers morning. Grown to know that pigs are a great animal to have on the farm ;-) and working with pasture is a real art form.

Someone said " Tractors were invented for people who are afraid of horses" So this year we have sold the tractor and are working with true horsepower! I'm going to be a bit more consistent with entries and especially photographs this last season so i can really get a taste of this last year. We aim to take everything down by October so while being a short one, ther season is shaping up to be a good one.

America is on the horizon and i'd like to thank any and everyone who's read my blog, it's been a great journey and I will miss it. But the journey continues in America and like my great grand uncles I will be sailing the cunard line to come into the New world via New York.

Springs here lets get working!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Heading into Spring

Well Ebony and the baby pigs have headed off to a new home at Bosavern Community Farm
We will be sad to see them go and will prbobably visit them a lot, however its good to know they will be going to a good home. So its just Butch the Boar and Barney left up here and they will also be leaving us in March, I hope to make good use of them while they are here to graze down grass, root up dandelions and any old potatoes or carrots left in the ground.

Speaking of Spuds, the weather is that mild that we will try a planting of "Setanta" today to see if we can get an early crop in..

More to follow with some pics of the new tunnels going up and our restored but not yet painted pony cultivator ;-)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

pigs for sale

Po Po
Lowenna
Ginger

Horus
Blue
That's them folks, all great grazers, really affectionate and a steal at 45 quid each!!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Back on track

Well after some nefarious non-entities hijacked my blog along with lots of others, I've managed to reclaim my Space!
So whats the news? well our lovely Kune Kune pig, "Ebony" has had a litter of 5 piglets. 3 black 2 orange, 3 boars and 2 girls..
This is "Po Po" despite a no name policy so as not to complicate their probable future, this one has sneaked in..

So they are all down at our house with their mother, running and fighting and starting to graze which is really great. We've just moved them to fresh pasture with George and little Dylan's help in the pouring rain, thanks guys!
Kune's tend to graze more than root, although they are quite happy to root when there is not a lot of grazing. (hopefully that puts that debate to rest ;-) ) There is a wide range of grasses and useful plants such as plantain and yarrow in their pasture which is good for their health. It also saves us money from buying more of the dreaded pig nuts!

Once they are a few weeks older they will go up to the land where the veg is and hopefully graze under the apple trees. We gather their manure every few days and pile it up to make compost, and try and rotate them onto fresh pasture every few weeks, we can already see how the grass quality is improving from their influence.


Very cute..

At typical morning pick at the moment. loads of beetroot, baby turnips and kilos of wild rocket for the restaurants..

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Pony Power

 So the last few weeks have been interspersed with learning how to work with our neighbour's Ponies, "Bunting" and "Maude". Thanks to local Horseman extraordinaire, Chris, we have now learned some of the basics in using these lovely ponies to work on the land.

Small scale horsework is making a comeback and these dartmoor ponies are very strong for their size, doing lots of tractor jobs like cultivating, moving things around etc.
Up until last Thursday we'd been training with the ponies at Chris's, but have now had a real taste of what real "Horsepower" is all about! 
 "Bunting" and "Maude" ready for work?
 Ridging Potatoes with  a willing bunting despite the heat and flies
 Pulling the sled full of stones

This is all part of the next stage in the evolution of the project in becoming a bit more sustainable and closer to ground level. We are not saying goodbye to the tractor just yet, but in terms of a pleasant four hours with the ponies compared to a noisy tractor it can't be beat.

Thanks to Louise for allowing us to use her ponies and Chris for all his time and patience, and of course Maude and Bunting for doing the work!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Back again

Just checked when my last post was, Jeekers! Been a while so better give some updates. So a very busy and dry Spring has led into what looks like a cold summer if the last few weeks are anything to go by.
With the arrival of Butch the boar we now have a trio of Kune Kune pigs, they are grass eaters so they don't need a lot of extra feeding.



So from these 3 mature pigs we get about 10-15kgs a day of nice manure, this is starting to build up into a nice big compost pile which will be used next spring as compost.

We are well into the season now with the boxes averaging around £6 worth

 This weeks box had artichokes, salad, strawberries, radishes coriander and a lollo rosso lettuce.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Ebony and barney

Well Springs here and things are looking brighter. Helping us along with that has been the arrival of ebony and barney our 2 kune kune pigs!



We got them to root up the ground, which they are doing a great job of, without going into huge holes like some other breeds will. Plan is to rear the offspring once Butch the boar comes along in may and just see how we go.
They are a lot of fun and really nice to have up on the land..

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Resurrection?

Well it's been a busy month, fixing up the tunnel with the help of lots of helping hands and generous pockets.
Thanks to everyone who contributed: Pez, Pip, Morwenna, tamsin, maurice and ethan!, jude, shirley, george, johnny, lesley, adam, lisa, piers, leo and arthur. Tim and Hilary, marina, lesley, traci, ciara and anyone else i've forgotten?
Thanks to lesley for organising the press release and to theresa, john, dee and ludgvan church for their generosity.
We should have enough to put a skin on at least one of the tunnels in the near future.
This was the morning everyone came

And that evening when everyone had worked so hard...

So we face the new year with some trepidation. We have no idea yet of who did this sneaky and cowardly act, and maybe it doesn't matter because of the huge support we received from people. I think it's going to be a good year, so roll on Spring.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Devastation


So I came to the field after bringing up a load of seaweed on Monday morning and found this:







No idea who or why, but not much else to do but try and repair it as best we can. Anyone who can make it with some needle and thread(i'm serious!) it's this sunday 11-2

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

November

With everything slowing down for winter it's time to really start using the tractor to it's full potential. I can load 2-3 tons on the trailer down at Marazion, the closest beach. It's a long haul back up the hill but good old "Brogh" as he/she is called manages it no bother.

I'm hoping to get 50 tons at least on each field in time for spring to really boost the fertility. Another fact i found whilst searching is that 1.3 tons of sea sand is equivalent to 1 ton of lime,  so every time some seaweed is brought up we are bringing the ph to a better level for the plants.
Garlic is all in thank god! Ordered about 10kgs this year which with all the rain we've had was quite an effort to get in. Lots of french types, including: sultop, dario, thermidrome, jollimont, lautrec, etc.
Itt's my birthday today so will probably go and get more seaweed ;-)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Another Method...

After faffing, i mean researching on the internet, i came across this method for threshing linseed.

'In Germany shortly after the war, when most commodities were rare and expensive, a gang of four ingenious men were caught by the police after some weeks of successful theft of linseed.

'The assets of this small firm were one canvass sheet, a sickle, some sacks and a bicycle. The leader of the gang rode the bicycle to a chosen field of linseed and was met by the rest of the gang, the sheet was laid on the ground, the bicycle placed upside down in the middle of it. One man cut the linseed, one carried the crop to a man stationed at the bicycle, and one turned the peda's. The linseed was thrashed by holding it against the rear wheel spokes. ..'

The right way up, the bicycle was a simple means of transport, the wrong way up, the handle bars and saddle formed a three point stand for the thrashing machine, so that except for the front wheel and fork and tyres, almost all parts were used in both the bicycles functions. The resulting one or two sacks were of course laid on the bicycle for transport.'

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Harvest


We did our first big sowing of Linseed/Flax this year. About 3 by 100 foot strips. Quite a learning curve there..
Flax is a really tough plant which makes it great for linen and other uses but also makes it really hard to harvest!


Turns out if you are harvesting just for the linen you can pull the plants up when still green, but if you want the seeds then you cut them when they are dry. This has two problems: one is the Formerly cute little finches turn into a whirring plague and devour half your crop, and two: Flax is so tough it blunts the scythe every two or three sweeps!


So after a hard day cutting and piling the flax we had half a trailer of the stuff, so now what to do with it?

Methods varied from
beating over a chair: dramatic but messy
mashing with a rolling pin: slow but effective
jumping on it:effective but tiring
rubbing with feet:seems to be the quickest

So we have to count the yield as the seed needs to be cleaned properly, we will probably throw it up on a sheet and separate the seed from the chaff, good old biblical expression there. Once you start growing grain you realise how many expressions derive from harvesting.



Now we are looking at sowing  "Grafton" oats and "Maris Widgeon" (what a great name!) wheat

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Been a while...

Well after much messin aroun' we managed to get a new memory stick for the camera, which has promptly broken! So no images for a while folks.

Just to give an update it's been a great summer so far, our grape harvest is pretty spectacular inside the main tunnel, despite the blackbirds stuffing their beaks full!

Our garlic came along well especially, "Lautrec" which we will be planting lots of this September. Def the best year for onions. Potatoes did ok in the new field, some big ones, a lot of wire worm mores the pity so we will have to tackle that one way or another..

We now have a lot of flax/Linseed to harvest and find a use for, chicken feed? Despite the crows there will be enough oats for a few bowls of porridge and the quinoa really did well.
For anyone concerned about Quinoa crossing with "fat hen" as they are both chenopodiums, i wouldnt worry too much as once they are both starting to seed they look very different so it's easy to rip out the fat hen for your salad.

Its been raining a lot recently so bit worried about rotten grains but fingers  crossed..

Thursday, 1 July 2010

swarm

The hive beside our house decided to swarm the other day, the noise was tremendous, like a hurricane..Bees flying everywhere. Literally the whole sky above the house became this mass of darting shapes seemingly flying at random...

Unlike some beekeepers i like it when they swarm as it is their way of reproducing, and i get to have another hive!


Gradually this vast cloud of bees began to coalesce around our lovely old golden delicious apple tree beside the house. Of course the bees decided to go waaay up to the top of this tree..

So after finding a nice long ladder, banging together an emergency hive we started to work.



and in they go, thanks George for all the great shots you took, and your calm demeanor, always have a buddhist photographer nearby when you're doing this sort of thing!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Well time is going pretty fast here, the weather seems to have finally changed to one more conducive to plant growth and to begin feeling like Summer.

With everything starting to green up and get juicy fruits it's one of my favourite times of year.

As always we are trying out different enterprises and Rose has been seeing how quail fit into our lives. These are baby Italian quail, tiny tiny things only a week old. They are very cute and tame at this age and love to sleep in your hands, their favourite game is to grab some food and have the others chase them round and around the box


The first boxes are going out with the usual salad and herbs, our leeks from last year are lasting well and our peas should be ready in a week or two.

Oh and I got married last Week!

Friday, 16 April 2010

intro to CSA

Here's a nice little introduction to CSA'S and the pros and cons you get with them, of course there are more pros involved!

CSA's

Friday, 12 March 2010

we plough the fields...


well john the farmer did actually but i've been harrowing away like agood thing over the last few days.
so we are going for what is large scale for us, a one acre field in a conventional way.
A used disc harrow costs about £700 so that wasen't an option now i've spent everything on the david brown now called david brogh or Brogh for short!
so i rigged meself up a custom made recycled and hand crafted harrow otherwise known as a big heavy thing to drag behind the tractor.

so what did i have around that i could use? well some telephone poles and some seatbelts we had found in a skip thinking they would come in useful one day as windbreaks or as it turns out harrow belts.


so brogh is a big help with this, and powered with biodiesel means it's much more pleasant to run. there's a bit less power on biodiesel but it doesn't make a big difference.
next step is to make/find a chain harrow and maybe rotavate before we sow linseed, oats, phacelia and rapeseed!

Friday, 29 January 2010

YES

New just in, The Organisation I work with Penwith Environmental Network, has just been awarded £20,000 to develop 2 forest gardens! One will be beside Badger's Garden and one in Penzance at Love Lane.

This is tremendous news as it will enable us to put in 3 acres of fruit trees and plants. We can then propagate on from these plants to plant more land and provide this genetic stock to other projects in the area.

So it's going to be busy in the next few weeks, workshops to organise, trees to order, site studies, clearing bracken.

Well done to Steph who basically wrote the grant, I owe you a Purdeys!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

My new workers

Looking round at the state of the garden it would be great to get these guys in for a few days, or is that minutes?

Monday, 21 December 2009

Tractor tales


well it finally arrived, a 1971 david brown selectamatic 880. Or just "the Tractor". My christmas present for the next 3 years!

Its a lot bigger than the kubota i'm used to, no power steering etc but we will get used to each other i'm sure...

happy christmas everyone..

Thursday, 5 November 2009

end of the season

Well it's my longest time without making a post since i started this blog, so much has been happening, including a bout of i guess swine flu? The last box has gone out and we are getting ready for winter, i'm working on a design for a stove in the tunnels to keep everything warm, cornish bananas maybe...

Friday, 14 August 2009

We have Bees again!

Yes finally thanks to a generous german man we have bees in our bonnet once again. It's been a long 8 months without their presence in the garden. I'm gradually transferring them to a "peoples" hive which seems a more humane and natural hive as opposed to the langstroths and nationals they are usually crammed into.
Soon as winter comes i should have some more time to write about natural beekeeping but for now have a look at BioBees courtesy of the Barefoot Beekeeper!

As i'm sure everyone knows bees aren't doing too well and whereas everything from gm crops to mobile phones have been blamed i think it's a combination of factors but probably pesticides and mainly the use of modern bee hives and practices which are closer to factory farming than most keepers will admit...

With Rose selling lots of salves at the market it's also good to begin to be self sufficient-ish in beeswax.

Hooray hooray!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Great Grapes

well our 3 year old vine in the tunnel is now producing some nice grapes, i've carefully watched over it, misted, fertilised and pollinated with a bit of rabbit fur..
they've gone from this:


To this:

and yes they do taste amazing!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

What the heck is that?!!




Was looking for strawberries for a box the other day and came across this - Any ideas? It's the only strawberry that's done this, some kind of incomplete pollination maybe? or just a weird plant..I quite like the colours anyhow

Monday, 29 June 2009

June Box

Still managing to scrape in by doing one post a month1 Everything is doing amazingly well with this fantastic weather. we just need to keep up with weeds now! Water is another issue but i am working on a bicycle powered pump to get both water and liquid fertiliser like seaweed onto the crops and fruit trees at a decent pressure.
Our June box


Beetroot, lettuce, salad, some strawberries, blackcurrants, spuds, garlic, courgette, cucumber, beans, peas, chard and kale.

Hopefully we will see some tomatoes soon, the peaches and grapes are looking great and our treasured 3 kiwis are growing every day...