About emma

I am partner of Ash and Elm Horticulture with my husband David. We created the name Ash and Elm many years ago when we were working in the music industry and living in the tree house. My initials spell ELM and David's surname in Ashley, hence Ash & Elm was formed. I studied organic horticulture and now teach horticulture in the community, I also do landscape design and work establishing community gardens. In my spare time I work with the family growing produce for ourself and the local shops. We sell veg, fruit and lots of cut flowers.

Welcome 2022

Another new year, welcome 2022.

The weather has been very mild and wet. The first daffodils are being harvested, with more and more bunches each week. There are not so many fresh flowers in Wales at this time of year, but here is the first bouquet of the year made using our own fresh Narcissi, Helleborous, and Anemone mixed with fresh foliage and dried flowers and seed heads.

We have now been on the land 10years, and January is a great time to reflect, recuperate and prepare for the year ahead. It’s amazing how much the land has changed and increased in life. The yearly planting of trees, shrubs, perennial and annual planting areas, food and flower crop plants and wildlife areas have massively increased the biodiversity of the site. We marvel over the amount of wildlife now taking advantage of this space.

In 2021, we had a moth survey, taken over 2 nights, we counted 70 different species. over 2 nights.

We housed a family of barn owls for the second year. We have loads more birds and insects and the soil is teaming with microbes and healthy life. We take time to appreciate the symbiotic relationships and interconnections every day. This year we will be opening our land for some family nature appreciation days during the summer.

 

keep an eye out for our program of events and course throughout the year.

We will be launching our new Community Supported Agriculture project, Orchard Hogs & Hens CSA. Seven families/ individuals will take turns in caring for the animals for a share of the produce.

 

 

 

 

Last year Ashliegh Davies did a kickstart traineeship for us and Great Oak Foods Organic & local shop. A 6 month placement learning practical skills from field to fork. We have now taken her on as our first permanent paid employee. Joining Dave Ash, myself (Emma) and the team of seasonal workers including Seri our nursery women and Joe the mechanic/ engineer. Tilly our other trainee will be leaving us later this month to continue her career in horticulture in Machynlleth where she lives. We all had fun making our Christmas photo,,, Hoe, Hoe, Hoe.

We have a new Kickstart trainee position starting February. This government funding scheme is available to anyone under 25years who is unemployed. It is a 6 month placement paid for 25 hours each week, with full training.

Get in touch if you know anyone who might be interested.

 

Jobs on the farm for this month…

Dave is busy linking up the solar electric system, that will power the barn and  greenhouses. Providing  propagating lights in spring and fridges in summer.

We have another 2 polytunnel and greenhouses going up. The ground work has been done, Adrian came with his digger on Christmas week to move a few trees and shrubs, clearing and levelling the area, so we are now ready to go. The new space will be for propagating plants and one whole tunnel for flowers.

 

Autumn celebration

Tasty squashes and Halloween pumpkins, garden open weekend 16th & 17th October 10am – 4pm. In association with The Hanging Gardens pumpkin festival.

It’s Autumn harvest time and to celebrate we will be holding an open weekend at the market garden at Old Hall.

We had an unusually late frost this year on 23rd June, which wiped out all the summer crops including the squashes and pumpkins. But we started again and the harvest has now begun. We have lots of tasty edible squashes and hopefully the Halloween pumpkins will be orange in time.

This weekend we will we be having a go at threshing some of our heritage, mixed population wheat.

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We will have the apple press set up, so bring along your apples to have a go pressing  to make juice.

Grab a bite to eat, with a selection of home grown, & baked produce, including, of course, pumpkin soup. We will be serving up some of our delicious home pressed apple juice.

A selection of our seasonal veg and Autumnal flowers for sale..

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Borehole

At last, we have water on site. The borehole has been drilled, and what a relief at 60 ft deep,  lots of water was found. Giving us a plentiful supply for all our needs, once we can get it up out the hole. so, we still need to raise funds to finish the job.

Now we know the flow rate and depth, we can source the pump and solar system to run it. Then we need a nice new big water tank to store this lovely clean water. Need to get this sorted in the next month, ready for taking on staff and the new growing season ahead.

2021 news

This year we have 2 paid trainee posts available with Ash & Elm horticulture, in association with Great Oak Foods Veg shop.

Interested in local food, working outside, learning new skills. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us

To get an interview you need to be in receipt of universal credit & be between the ages of 16 & 24. Work begins in March.

Before the growing season really kicks in we have lots happening and we are starting to gear up again after a quiet month, full of rest and planning.

During February we have another new greenhouse and polytunnel going up. That will put even more stress on our rain water collection. After last years 3 months of drought, we are investing in a borehole, to give us much needed water for the crops. We have been lucky enough that Social Farms & Gardens Edible Horticultural Grant will part fund the drilling of the borehole.

We have just had our delivery of Organic compost ready for the new season of seed sowing to commence in February. In the meantime we are still harvesting Kale and Brussel sprouts, and the daffodils are in full swing now.

 

New online shop

We have just launched our new online shop. Making it easier to see what is in season and what we have available each week. New products will come online as we go through the seasons.

Check out our fresh Christmas wreaths and posies.

Christmas gifts of preserves available ready to deliver a tasty treat.

On the run up to Christmas, of course we have Brussel Sprouts, swede and parsnip.

Visit our online shop Here.

2020 update

2020 what a year of change….

The pandemic lock down called for more local food, pity it began during the hungry gap, in March. Loads more people suddenly wanting to know how to grow for themselves, perfect time to start sowing seeds. So a busy spring getting mass production going early, teaching online zoom courses and mentoring land-owners who wanted to plough an acre for the first time to grow crops.

Late frosts, scorching hot weather with 3 months drought, followed by a period of cold nights and then hot tropical storms, gave us a challenging, up and down growing season. No trainee students to work the land with us and more direct sales then ever, meant hours of admin on top of long hours working the land. All of our 5 acres are now in horticultural production, but it’s not all about stuff to sell. We have developed space to enjoy, to contemplate, to walk barefoot, to feed your soul and spirit. We lunched the first of our Work and Well-being days to combat the aftermath of mental trauma following the Covid lock-down.

Now, in August, we are in glut season, harvesting 4 days a week, in larger quantities than ever before. Without the hoards of volunteers we are usually feeding 3 times a day, we actually have a lot more to sell. This year we also have virtually no pheasants on the land, a welcome change to the normal 50-100 roaming across our veg patch eating all our harvest. We can only presume because of the lock down, that no shoots have been going on and thus no pheasants released.

Our son Joe has been coming to the field most weeks to photograph the flower harvest. The aim to build up a week by week gallery of what is in season throughout the year. Watch this space.

We have more wildlife on the land than ever. For the first time we have barn owls, 5 babies this year. It has been a real treat to see and hear them on the land, keeping vole numbers under control. Also lots of baby blackbirds, they did demolish our currents, but they are also controlling the cabbage white caterpillars. Hedgehogs are seen nightly, snuffuling around in the search of slugs.

Here is a selection of some of my photos through this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Success with Tomatoes

A lot of people get to this time of year and ask me what to do about their over grown rampant tomatoes, and why do they never get ripe toms. So I hope this post helps.

There are 2 types of tomatoes

•Cordon or indeterminate
•Bush or determinate
These require different training and support. Bush varieties are best grown in pots or hanging baskets and allowed to spread and hang their fruit trusses.
On the other hand cordon varieties need a bit of regular maintenance. The aim is to have one central stem trained up to 2m (7ft). So they need some support. Tie to canes or twist around string.
Canes
•Push or hammer 2m (7ft) wood or metal stakes at least 45cm (18″) into the ground
•Plant 5-7cm (2-3″) from each stake.
•Loosely tie the main stem of each plant to the stake with a short length of twine.
String
Fix the string to the ceiling and plant under the plant or tie loosely to the stem. Then as the plant grows gently twist it around the string. Quick and simple support.
Once the support is sorted the next thing is side shooting. This is where people loss confidence, but if not done plants put their energy into growing too much foliage which blocks the light and reduces air flow, stopping your fruit ripening.
Watch this video and learn how.
Flowers
Flower trusses grow out of the main vertical stem, not out of the elbows of the vertical and leaf stems. Allow 5 trusses, then pinch out the growing point at the required height to divert energy into ripening fruit.