It was definitely warmer when I last posted but although winter temperatures are with us, crops such as leeks, spinach and chard are being harvested. In polys, rocket seedlings are slowly growing and cabbage plants are making progress, covered with net to try and deter pests.
One entire patch of lettuce seedlings has provided food for slugs, so around another patch the deterrent of eggshells may hopefully keep these molluscs at bay.
Among other jobs, areas under soft fruit bushes are being cleared of weeds, empty plots are receiving manure and then covered with mypex and a new strawberry patch has taken shape, planting through mypex to reduce weeding.
Big mistake. We should not have removed the nets encirling the pole beans.
Rabbits (we think, as opposed to deer) have bitten through many stems, so, although we are harvesting cobra and runner beans at present, some plants (including the borlottas) will die. We have replaced the nets, shortening the height, in the hope rabbits can’t reach up but we can reach down behind the nets to harvest the beans. Take note for next year.
The weeds are growing well, so quickly that the red onions have been inundated and we are concerned only a few have survived; a case of fingers crossed.
In battling the rabbits, even more patches have had to be covered, particularly during the young stage of growth. Netting now surrounds the squash beds.
The celeriac didn’t appreciate the unseasonal cold temperatures, with some deciding to go to seed but even with the strange weather this year, crops are developing and ripening and our take home box now includes carrots, spring onions, mangetout, strawberries, rhubarb and the start of the red currants, basil, kale, chard and spinach.
Another row of beetroot was sown for a succession crop.
Cauliflower and broccoli seedlings were planted and covered with the new enviromesh, although when cutting it, we discovered we had been supplied with a shorter length than that ordered, so adjustments had to be made.
Amongst other jobs, we finished erecting the bean pole canes (aided by a little helper), so the remaining climbing beans could be planted and then, as with the majority of the crops, protected from rabbit nibbling.
Fortunately we chose a day of light wind and only a few spots of rain in order to cover one of the polys, (needed as tomato plants were definitely ready, some possessing flowers).
Poles and canes are being erected to support the climbing beans.
Leek and mangetout seedlings were carefully planted but we’ve had failures; beasties have eaten cabbage plants and many of the cucumber plants, the latter we think by rats so a quick protection system has been improvised.
As restrictions are being lifted, we have managed to meet carefully, although the coffee and cake routine is still bring your own.
I was invited by the Norfolk Green Care Network to give a short talk about Diss Community Farm on 7th April 2021, which is linked above. I had 10 minutes, as part of an online event called “Growing Together” which included talks about other community farms and gardens: Grapes Hill Community Garden in Norwich, The Escape Garden in Swaffham, a talk about community gardens in London, and group allotments in Norwich from the allotment officer at Norwich City Council.
I found it to be very interesting overall, to find out how much is going on in the area that is similar to what we are doing here in Diss. My short talk might also be of interest to people who want to find out more about our Farm and its history, and I did give a preview to the Farm members a few days beforehand and incorporated their comments.
A beautiful, warm day, to be enjoyed before the forecasted much cooler temperatures.
The site is looking good in preparation for this year’s crops, the photos showing beds rotovated, permanent residents in the herb patch, rhubarb developing well since last month’s photo and blackcurrant bushes in flower.
The autumn fruiting raspberry patch has been weeded and new shoots are appearing.
The autumn planted garlic and onions are progressing under their rabbit deterrent covering of enviromesh and the strawberry beds have been weeded and strawed.
We are creating comfrey beds, not only for the bees but to add to our bins of liquid fertiliser.
Seeds sown at home are now being planted – outside, hispi cabbage; in a polytunnel, lettuce and spinach.
The broad beans in one poly are in flower and the flat leaf parsley and self-seeded shungiku are flourishing.
During lockdown, we have been communicating through emails, phone and as Gary has said, through zoom, spreadsheets and a whiteboard of “jobs to do”.
Mid-winter and after all the rain we’ve received, the ground will be even more saturated come tomorrow, with snow forecast. Thank goodness we cultivate land on a slight slope.
We are still harvesting cabbages, cavolo nero kale, both green and red brussels sprouts, while kalette stalks have been left in the ground to provide spring greens.
Unfortunately as Gary has said, rabbits are tucking into the leeks as well as the celeriac, so these need harvesting. It looks like many plots will need to be covered with fleece this year as the plots of autumn sown and now shooting, garlic and onions, feature rabbit droppings scattered over the protective fleece.
The strawberry patches are looking good after careful, time-consuming weeding and strawing.
There are new shoots on the rhubarb; beautiful splashes of green and red.
Trenches have been dug by the autumn fruiting raspberries to suppress weeds.
Compost maintenance continues, heavy work but so necessary. Most of the patches have been manured prior to rotovation.
Within the polys, parsley and broad beans are making progress (with some holes in the leaves), while salad leaves and spring onions are peeping through the soil.
We’re so looking forward to when we can all meet together and to warmer weather, though the seasons are to be appreciated.