Tuesday 1st December 2015

It’s been a wet week so it’s a good job this field drains well. Even so, paddling bare earth is not a good idea so we plan to tread lightly.

We start with clearing out the small-but-perfectly-formed carrots that might have got a lot bigger if the rabbits hadn’t taken a particular liking to this patch. They will be good for tonight’s stew. The carrots that is. We are a vegetarian household. Although sometimes …

Clearing the carrots enables us to get on with next year’s bean trenches. We manage to lose all the accumulated frost-got nasturtiums, emptied bean hulls and other compostable detritus that is lying around. Chopped into the bottom of the trenches it will support the Czar runner beans. That’s three double rows ready – 50% more than this year. We are still gauging what a year’s supply will be. We will be growing from our own saved seed. It’s a longer-term wider ambition to save a lot more own seeds.

Lots of weeding today too. But we aren’t blitzing the beds, rather seeking out the vigorous perennials, leaving the sprawling annuals to cover the soil over Winter. It’s amazing how deep a root a little pair of dock leaves can be hiding. The soil though is good now for hoiking them out intact. Docks and the bigger nettles are what we focus on. It’s a good feeling when another whole bed is (albeit temporarily) dock-free. And the effect is no more than as though a herd of tiny wild boar had been snouting amongst the speedwell and hairy bitter cress (which is still going into the green salads). All this bed will need is an early Spring hoeing and a light forking over a bit later for next season’s roots.

Post-lunch we move onto the bean bed. After picking the last few stragglers that might still dry ok (on 1st December!) it’s time to clear the poles and frames away for another year. With a shortage of hazel ready to coppice for 8 foot poles this year, we experimented with 6 foot deer netting stretched between lengths of old gas pipe driven into the ground. It worked very well for the Borlotti and Brown Dutch climbing beans. And with it’s larger semi-rigid square mesh, it is a lot easier to clean up than the regular lightweight bean/pea netting. It just happened to be redundant at the right time. A happy horticultural happenstance.

With an eighth bed now ready, this one will be fallow next year. We will clean it, mulch it over Winter, bury that in Spring, then sow rye grass/tares green manure to be dug in the following Spring. That should support a good crop of potatoes in 2017, we hope.

Even more – on this very productive and populous community garden day – the morning’s delivery of the last two new fruit trees gave us an urgent afternoon job. We’ve had fruit bushes and trees from quite a range of suppliers now – with quite a range of service quality. One we won’t be using again – Marshall’s sent us a dead twig. (The ready refund was hardly the point. All the more worrying perhaps for being so ready!) Chris Bowers have been particularly reliable and professional. R.V.Rogers were great on the phone and delivered very reliably too. These two new trees, from Orange Pippin Trees, have arrived – impressive specimens – in excellent condition and well packaged. The service is excellent and the website is very helpful and informative too. (There are, of course, lots of other suppliers we haven’t used.)
The trees are: Reine Claude de Bavay – a gage pollinator partner for the Old English Gage planted a couple of weeks ago, and Doyenne du Comice – pear partner for the Beurre Hardy planted on its own last year. Both are carefully planted, staked, mulched and rabbit-guarded.
With the rooted redcurrant cuttings and the “found” gooseberries to be given homes next week, the very organic (in all senses of the word) fruit border for the field is filling up fast. We’ll be foraging before long.

And that was that. The wind had dropped. A pair of ravens were mobbing a hapless buzzard. But otherwise all was calm, peaceful and intensely satisfying under a pink/blue/grey slightly darkening very Autumnal sky. We took time to sit and breathe it all in.

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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