22nd September 2015

It rained heavily overnight. The field drains well but is still too wet to start with potatoes. The ground is good though for teasing the docks out from the leeks. Should really have done this a couple of weeks ago – they have got big enough to swamp and check the leek plants. I am always surprised, however, how the leeks manage to grow through the Winter. We will enjoy them in six months time.

In the greenhouse we at last get round to opening the new seed compost – a Melcourt Professional product we are pleased to have. Peat-free composts are notoriously coarse and difficult for small seeds. The green waste products are great in quantity on the plot (we used 15 tonnes to good effect!) but tend to involve too much foreign material to make fine handling comfortable. This one is produced from composted bark chippings (FSC approved) with a little coir (responsibly sourced and fairly traded) – it fits our green ethical aspirations pretty well. (There’s an organic potting mix which we are keen to try in the Spring.) We like how this looks and feels. Not coarse at all. We sow some Winter lettuce (Valdor) to put in the polytunnel and outside. And we are germinating Super Aquadulce broad beans in modules to plant out Oct/Nov. Last year the direct-sown beans were patchy and not particularly productive. This is a bit of a trial.

After a tea break the promised sunshine has dried off the surface enough for us to go at the next tranche of potatoes. Pink Fir Apple are wonderful to eat, and pretty good to grow; largish, comical knobbly tubers, they have some tuber blight and a little slug damage. The Cara and Desiree are our two maincrop bankers – and perform yet again. Cara are big and pretty clean with some slug damage. The Desiree are even bigger and cleaner – and beautiful. The two Sarpos still show next to no signs of blight – but we cut them all down this week so that we can harvest them in a fortnight. We have been told that leaving them too long (an understandable temptation) is what got them an undeserved reputation for gastronomic disappointment. We’ll see.

The five rows of potatoes take two of us most of the afternoon to dig and dry – but we fit in taking the ripe squash and put them to mature in the greenhouse. They are magnificent pumpkins – our favourites to eat – “Marina di Chioggia” – with dark green skins but richly flavoured firm bright orange flesh. They need a few weeks in store to develop full flavour, and in the right conditions they will happily keep until April next year. Maybe even longer – we ate the last 2014 one in April.

We pick another couple of bowls of the yellow cherry tomatoes that haven’t been blight-affected (as a lot now are). Oh, and a few more lurking cucumbers.

Green manures are growing strongly. The rye/vetch mixture on next year’s potato bed is a good cover already. The field beans on the roots bed-to-be will need scything down soon before they set seed.

After the exertions of last weekend’s hugely rewarding and enjoyable 40th anniversary celebration we were down to two of us and a bit this week. We did all right.

And plenty of the returning community members at the weekend admired the garden, which was very gratifying after our two and a half years of hard work here.

I wonder where we will be for the 50th?

Tuesdays in the Triangle Field (Community Supported Market Garden) are busy, sociable, friendly, relaxed, productive. Volunteers are made welcome, fed, watered and rewarded with produce. Let us know if you would like to join us either regularly, occasionally or just for a one-off pleasure.
Tel. 01743 761418 email: crabapplecom@hotmail.com


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