Thursday, October 31, 2013

Planting apple trees.

We were recently donated three apple trees by Joan Fisher, and would like to thank Joan for her very generous gift to the farm. Last Thursday we planted them in the grassy area of the farmyard, against the south-facing wall of the old pig sheds. There is a Bramley, a Katy (my favourite apple when I was a kid), and an Anniversary. Digging the holes was hard work, requiring a pneumatic drill to break through lumps of granite in places, but we filled the holes with good topsoil from another recent excavation, and hope the trees will do well in their new home.
Tree planting team - Jenny, Nyssa, Willow, Anne and Martin.

30,000 hits

Sometime over the past few days this blog passed its 30,000th hit - thanks to everyone for looking, I hope it's informative and keeps you up to date on events at the farm.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Drying onions.

This year we harvested 900 kg of onions from a half acre patch in our maincrop field. Harvest coincided with the onset of a very damp autumn, and we weren't able to dry the onions sufficiently for long storage, so had to come up with an alternative solution to relying on warm dry weather.
James helping to build the onion-drying contraption.
So in the cow-shed we built an onion-drying contraption. We raised a wooden slatted tonne-box on blocks, filled it full of onions, blocked the gaps around the sides with old doors and boards of wood screwed into place, borrowed an industrial fan (thanks Tim!), bought a gas-fired space-heater, and heated the onions from below.
Martin and Nyssa filling the contraption with onions.
 We were aiming at a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius for a 3-day period, but for health and safety concerns we turned the device off late at night, and re-fired it first thing in the morning, so the temperature did fluctuate (though we left the fan on 24/7). We also found that the onions on the very bottom were far too hot and turned soft, while those on the very top were not up to temperature. But after four days of heating in this way the onions were all dry (fingers crossed) and ready for storage.

A fraction of our onions dried and hung from the rafters for winter storage.
We stacked half the onions in open plastic crates, and suspended the other half from the shed rafters in net-bags. Like this we hope they will store well into the new year. The contraption worked very well, and the onions look good, and have already been selling (£1.50 per kilo).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New volunteer session times.

Times for our volunteer sessions on the farm have changed slightly to fit in better with the farming day. Volunteer sessions will now be:-
Tuesdays 10 am till 3 pm - please bring a packed lunch.
Thursdays 10 am till 3 pm - please bring a packed lunch.
Saturdays 2 till 5 pm.
We hope to see you there!

Monday, October 14, 2013

What's now available in the farm shop?

Free-range eggs, £1.50 for half a dozen.
Small (pullets) free-range eggs, 70p for half a dozen.
Charlotte potatoes, £1 per kilo.
Lemon verbena, the best herbal tea ever, 50p for 25g.
Parsnips, £1.20 for a half kilo bunch.
Celery, £1 per head (with the leaves on because they're the tastiest bit).
Onions, 75p per half kilo.
Cucumbers, 60p each.
Runner beans, £1 for 200g (almost the last of them!).
Pointed "sweet-heart" cabbages, 50p each.
Kale, 80p for 200g.
Garlic, 50p per pot (almost over!).
Chillies, 10p each, fat red "Rocoto" or thin red "Ring o Fire".
Peppers, 50p each.
Physallis, a.k.a. Cape gooseberries, £1 per punnet.
Tomatoes, £1.50 for a half kilo.
Black radishes, 20p each (eat raw or cooked in a stew or stir-fry).
Salad bags, £1.50 for 120g mixed leaves and flowers.
Chard, 70p a bunch.
Beetroot, £1.50 for a kilo bunch.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tomato harvest.

The end of September and still continuing into October has seen our biggest polytunnel "New Baby" producing masses of tomatoes. After a slow start to the season, with the tunnel not completed until May, then the strong easterly winds of July ripping the plastic off it, our tomato plants have recently started performing to their full potential. We pick twice a week, last week totalling 170 kg of tomatoes, and today harvesting another 92 kg. These are sold at £3 a kilo through our veg box scheme, local farmer's markets, gate stall, and wholesale to many local pubs and cafes. How long will they continue? Maybe another 2 to 3 weeks....
Charlotte picking tomatoes this morning.

Monday, October 7, 2013


We'd like to send a big thank you to Caroline from the USA, who came to wwoof for two weeks and stayed for three, helping to finish the onion harvest and read stories to visiting school groups, amongst many other things.
Caroline picking salad in the Mothership.