Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Fruits of summer at Mur Crusto farm

Fruit news:
Val and I will be away on holiday from 12/6 to 7/7, a little over 3 weeks. This is somewhat unfortunate timing since there is a lot of fruit which is nearly ripe. So how about coming over to pick-your-own? Val's brother, Graham, will be here at the farm while we're away so if you want to check what's available, just give him a call (01766 819109). As for payment, could you please just keep a record of what you have picked and its weight and we'll work out what you owe us after our return.
So, what's available and what's ripe?
1. Redcurrants. These are already becoming ripe and there are quite a lot. They're delicious raw, like grapes.
2. Gooseberries. They too are beginning to be ripe and will be so within a week. There are lots.
3. Strawberries. A large crop is beginning to ripen. Don't miss these. Some are very large and they are delicious!
4. Whitecurrants. Ripening but not ready yet.
5. Blackcurrants. There should be a big crop beginning at the end of this month.
6. Raspberries. The bees have been busy and there are lots which will probably start to be ripe within a couple of weeks. There should then be raspberries available more or less continuously from July to October.
7. Jostaberries: should be ripe in 2-3 weeks.
Veg news:
We have been working hard on our veg and fruit which have needed - and look like needing - a lot of watering. Because our water is metered, we have to be careful about this or we end up with enormous water bills. The weather seems to be topsy-turvy this year with unusually cold nights (4 degrees forecast for Friday) which make us worry about all the tender plants we have put out in the polytunnel. The rain we've had here has been way too little and it doesn't look good for more.
What veg are we growing?
First the polytunnel: If you're here picking fruit, by all means take a look in the tunnel, but please, no children running about on the beds!
Tomatoes: lots of healthy vigorous plants, many already bearing trusses of fruit which may be beginning to ripen in early July.
Peppers: plenty of healthy plants now beginning to flower. We've introduced rather pricey biological controls which we hope will control the inevitable aphids which damage the peppers and other crops too.
Aubergines: good number of plants growing well, but they don't like the cold.
Sweet corn: coming along nicely. We are trying out the Mayan (Mexico) 'milpa' system of intercropping, having sown  lots of french beans, both bush and climbing varieties, between the maize plants. The idea is that the beans are supported by the maize and provide nitrogen to both themselves and the maize. Beans, like all legumes, have the ability to 'fix' nitrogen from the atmosphere.
French beans: as above
Basil: we're planting it out this afternoon
Cucumber: growing vigorously but plants still small.
Courgettes: several plants growing nicely. We had our first taste of them last night. Delicious and sweet.
Squash: several of 3 different types planted out. One is already producing fruits.
Carrots: just about ready to eat but kept fleeced because of possible carrot fly attack.
Brassicas: all these hardy winter plants are planted out and growing well, protected from wind and bugs by large enviromesh tunnels, supports for which I finished making yesterday. These brassicas include 3 types of kale, 2 types of brussels sprouts, 3 types of winter and autumn cabbages. There are also quite a few calabrese plants which should produce their broccoli heads in July-August.
Carrots: maincrop to see us through the winter. Sown and on the point of germination.
Beetroot: planted from modules and doing quite well. We'll be sowing more in early July.
Potatoes: for our use but doing well.
Leeks: we're planting out about 1000 tomorrow.
Lettuces: sown for succession and developing well.
Peas: big row of snap peas just germinating. More to be sown on return.
Broad beans: 2 rows now growing well, after terrible trouble with mice and birds which devastated early sowings.
Parsnip: failure of direct sown seed so I germinated it in the kitchen and sowed each one with tweezers in tiny holes dibbered with a pencil in the soil outside. After all that trouble, I hope we get a crop.
Onions: from sets, doing nicely but for our own use.
There's also a bed of green manure: red clover and Phacelia, which should soon be in flower. Much loved by bees.
Note that we raise all our veg on site, from organic seed. The fertility comes from compost we make in large amounts. No E. coli here. You might like to know we're having our annual Soil Association inspection in late July.
I hope you found this chronicle interesting. Although we're not earning any money at present, we are doing a lot of work, preparing and nurturing fruit and veg for you, our group. We would probably expect to be able to produce bags for you from early August though there will be stuff available before this. We'll let you know by email, as usual. If anyone (Daly family, Mayumi?) is willing to come and spend some time helping, we shall chiefly need help with weeding - fruit bushes, raspberries, veg plots and polytunnel. If you're coming to pick fruit but want to do a couple of hours work, please ask Graham what needs doing. If you like duck eggs (Teresa?), ask Graham if there are any available.
Enjoy the summer!