Thursday, December 21, 2006

Celebrating the Solstice

The Earth at the start of the 4 (astronomical) seasons as seen from the north and ignoring the atmosphere (no clouds, no twilight). Image thanks to Wikipedia.
Tonight is the longest night of the year. Today (21st) and tomorrow are the shortest days. Now this, in my opinion, is worth celebrating. So Val and I are opening a bottle of cava later this evening to drink in the real New Year; the astronomical new year. Why don't more people celebrate this truly significant event?

From now on, we'll be looking out for early signs of Spring and beginning to plan - with Jill and Mike - what crops we'll be sowing and when for your boxes and bags in 2007. Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The ultimate recycler...

Covering up the finished compost so the rain doesn't leach its nutrients... is, of course, the compost heap. Our heaps - cylindrical because they're held in place by fencing net and old carpet - start off with almost everything biodegradable from the farm, including cardboard boxes. It's all about balancing the carbon:nitrogen content to achieve optimal effective decomposition. In fact, I don't bother too much with the details: much has been written on this topic. I just give the heaps plenty of time to decay. This one (first photo) I have dug out completely and dumped on next-year's brassica rotation beds, protected by a waterproof cover (leftover from the polytunnel construction 5 years ago) to prevent leaching by winter rains. It's excellent-looking stuff, well rotted and matured. I started the heap in March 2005 by which I mean I stopped adding stuff and covered it with carpet to start decomposing. You're supposed to turn the compost after a few weeks but, being lazy, I don't. Time seems to do the work for you.

Poking holes through the completed heap to allow the air to circulate. This helps to avoid the heap becoming anaerobic
Once the well-rotted stuff was out of its fencing net cylinder, I could close the latest heap. I first of all poke large holes all through the heap, top to bottom, using a heavy steel fencing bar. These holes will remain after the carpet covers are in place and allow oxygen to penetrate throughout the heap. Then I cover over the top with the old carpets (available from our local carpet shop, free of charge - they otherwise take them to the dump where they become non-recycled landfill) and lay old (also recycled, partly-rotted) fence posts on the top to stop the gales blowing off the cover. And that's it. One last thing is to write the date of closure on a plant label and attach it to the fencing net. That's how I know how old the compost is in each of the 5 heaps.

Oh yes, there are still weed seeds in the compost I make because I don't turn it as I should. So I find it easier to spread the compost in spring, rotavate it in and leave the seeds to germinate. Then I till it again a few weeks later, incorporating the sprouted weeds as green manure: yet another version of this lengthy exercise of recycling. What is really bothersome is that in any farming system, you are effectively 'mining' the soil. All the veg we sell to our customers is fertility lost to the system. Where does it all go? Down the sewers. Smelly waste? Well, umm, that's our fertility! There has to be a better way. Still, making compost helps redress the balance and, dear customers, if any of you cares to bring us compostable material which you don't want, I will gratefully add it to Mur Crusto's latest compost heap.
PS. Note to Val: Remember that nail brush you lost in early 2005? Well I found it... in the compost. Sorry, it wasn't recyclable. It was quite well rotted. I wonder if that lost pruning knife will turn up in the next lot of compost.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

It must be Halloween!

a terrifying witch in the trees
Look what we found today in a wood just 15 minutes' cycle ride from Mur Crusto farm. And (below), just look at Jill's great Halloween pumpkin, on sale as an 'extra' in the Swallow House at Mur Crusto this weekend.

giant pumpkin, organically grown by Jill

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy packers in Mur Crusto kitchen

This post may not be very newsworthy but it does give you an up-to-date snapshot of a typical Friday's harvesting and packing.
Deo, Jill and Val in Mur Crusto farm kitchen

Here's the workforce having tea after successfully finishing another packing and harvesting day. Deo, our wonderful and hard-working volunteer, is on the left. Val is standing and Jill seated.

veg bags and 'extras', all ready for collection in the Swallow House

The photo above is of all the packed bags neatly stacked, ready for collection by our customers. On the freezer are the 'extras' we offer each week. At present, these include tomatoes, apples and shiitake mushrooms but it changes each week.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mur Crusto crops and Ty'n Lon tatws

I thought you'd like to see a couple of pictures, taken just a few minutes ago. We started harvesting leeks for the bags last week. They're doing very well and most are quite a decent size (picture, L). On the R are some of the polytunnel crops: lettuces, chard (on L) and fennel, the feathery stuff in the centre.
Our potato weekend went well, despite the lifter falling spectacularly to bits. Between about 5 of us, we reassembled it. We had several wonderful helpers: Bini and Hugh (singer extraordinaire), Arabella, Pat and John in addition to the four of us (Mike, Jill, Val, Bry). Even so, it took the best part of the weekend to pick and pack away the thousands of potatoes. I hope Jill will post some photos for you to see!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A new place for latest news from Llangybi Organics

Val with giant tomato which weighed one kilo. These 'beefsteak' tomatoes taste incredibly good too!

I (Bry, the webmaster here!) am changing the Llangybi Organics website so that all Llangybi Organics news, long or short, gets posted on this blog page. There are advantages for me in that it's easier to do. There are advantages for you too:
  • all news posts get listed by title, date and month automatically (the Archive in the right column of this page) so you can find any item you're interested in
  • you can use a feed reader (like the free and excellent Omea) to pick up RSS/Atom feeds from this weblog. This simply means that you can find out automatically whenever we add anything. If you don't want to be bothered with feeds, just bookmark this page in your Favourites
  • it means you can 'have your finger on the pulse' since we'll be adding posts every few days or weeks because it's so easy to do. Some could be just a couple of sentences and a picture. There won't be any formal newsletter any more, just a series of the latest newsworthy items - with pictures as needed.

So now you really can keep in touch... And you can also add your own comments to any of our news postings.