The last couple of months we have been busy tidying up the site ready for our first open day. We have been on the site for 5 years now and structures and systems are coming together. We have had some fantastic weather and great wwoofers to help us, but also many weeks to enjoy working on the land on our own. Join us on Sunday 30th July for a tour of the site and to taste some of our produce.
Mid summer has come and gone, and it has been glorious. Baking hot days perfect for seaside holidays, ice-cream and beer, but no chance of that with a market garden to keep on top of. All that said, during the heat wave we did convert to a continental time table of working outside early and knocking off at lunchtime for bathing in the river Severn, returning to the land to do a few hours in the evening.
It really has been lovely, but we were nearly out of water at the beginning of May, by the end of May all the water butts were dry and plants were starting to suffer from the lack of water. So our 10,000 litres of water is not enough.
Brian our keen local volunteer has been on the case working out water collection solutions. We now have another 1,500 litre water butt collecting from the static and have extended the roof on the toilet shed to gain more area to collect from. The pig holding pen has been lined with an old pond liner to make a temporary water tank, this is surprisingly big and if we ever get some substantial rain it will make a good reserve. We have been working on doubling the size of the wood shed, both for storage area and more surface area to collect rain.
The solar shower bags have been much more effective in the hot weather and it has got me thinking of a how install a proper working solar shower. Might even put it in it’s own building with privacy. A job for later in the year, when the growing season slows down.
The glut season has arrived. With the sunny weather in June ripening the Strawberries early. Whilst it was sunny we were harvesting 3kg a day, but with the rain there has been much less. The strawberry season was short this year, but we have eaten our fill. I have made 6kg jam and de-hydrated about 10kg. We sell in Great Oak foods Llanidloes and Cultivate in Newtown, but have been encouraging people to come and pick their own. We have now moved onto raspberries and current season.
It is full on harvest season now, harvesting a wide variety of produce. To add to all the green leafy stuff we have all year, we now have broad beans, French beans, mangetout, peas, new potatoes and the first of the courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Flower season is in full bounty. During June and July i have been attending Llanidloes Charter Market each Saturday. I am not making enough money to warrant being there, but it is good to be out talking to people and advertising what we are doing. I am going to continue going each week for the summer and see how it goes. To go with the fresh flowers i have been drying petals for confetti and culinary herbs for sale, the house smells amazing. I have been busy making elderflower cordial and jams and these are available on the stall each week.
We are growing an acre of potatoes this year, not for eating, but to sell as seed to other growers. It is Axona, a fantastic blight resistant variety that has been bred in Wales for Organic low input growing, which we are keen to promote. We got the ground prepared in the good weather, ploughed and disc harrowed then planted, they have been ridged up twice to give a weed free plot. As these are to be sold as seed they have to be inspected by the plant health authorities for disease. Last week, we passed with excellent, which was a relief. This is mainly due to the excellent growing qualities of the potato, rather that anything we have done.
We have had some wonderful wwoofers already this year, but during June we were without volunteers. It has been lovely to enjoy our land on our own, but the days have been long. With all the regular jobs of animals (1 hour morning and night), harvesting veg, fruit and flowers (every other day), deliveries and watering (as needed) it is hard to find time to get any other jobs done like weeding, planting and site development. Although it has been good to have the time and head space to plan what needs to be done and spend some time on the computer promoting our goods.
We had Lauren and Philip wwoofing with us for 3 weeks during May, they were a great help, fitting in like they had always been with us. They are travelling Wales for the summer looking for land and a place to settle and set up a One Planet Development project. They are film makers and permaculturalist who i am sure we will continue to see more of in the world of sustainable growing.
During July we had two German 15 year olds, Kalle and David, who came on work experience and an Italian women, Cristina here wwoofing. We tidied the veg beds and cutting garden, planted some flowering shrubs in the forest garden, pulled docks and did some construction. Generally having a good tidy up before our open garden day on 30th July.
The piglets are growing and are now becoming a hoard of noisy teenagers. Always hungry and constantly pushing and shoving. We have two little runts that are very cute and friendly, still smaller enough to pick up for a cuddle. We would love them to go to someone as pets, get in touch if you can home them…. We are gradually weaning the piglets from the mum, to give her a break.
We have a field open day booked for Sunday 30th July, 11am – 4pm. There will be tours of the growing areas and a chance to pet the animals. We will be barbecuing some of our pork sausages, offering elerflower champagne and fruit salad. It coincides with the scarecrow festival up the valley which is always entertaining, so a good day to take a visit to Old Hall.
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