Farming

Jan. 24th, 2011 01:39 pm
bellinghman: (Default)
On Sunday we were mostly planting garlic.

504 cloves now done. The majority of the time was spent cleaving the bulbs - filling the potting trays with potting compost and putting individual cloves into the compost took somewhat less time.

We also finished putting the compost into the polytunnel - a total of somewhere around 4 tonnes of the stuff - and putting down chipped bark on the walking areas to (a) stop weeds coming up there, and (b) avoid it getting too muddy.

Farming

Jan. 24th, 2011 01:39 pm
bellinghman: (Default)
On Sunday we were mostly planting garlic.

504 cloves now done. The majority of the time was spent cleaving the bulbs - filling the potting trays with potting compost and putting individual cloves into the compost took somewhat less time.

We also finished putting the compost into the polytunnel - a total of somewhere around 4 tonnes of the stuff - and putting down chipped bark on the walking areas to (a) stop weeds coming up there, and (b) avoid it getting too muddy.

Open day

Aug. 26th, 2010 11:48 am
bellinghman: (Default)
Well, that was interesting. For possibly Chinese values, but it wasn't a total disaster.

Yesterday was the day when the community farm was being shown off. The first slot was the media one, from 15:00 to 17:00, at which a BBC Look East reporter turned up (reportedly in sandals - a few hours later that would have been regrettable, but the rain hadn't started), and the Cambridge and Royston Evening News reporters also came along, or so I hear (I wasn't there, though [livejournal.com profile] bellinghwoman had taken the afternoon off).

17:00 to 19:00 was the second slot, which was for interested people to come along and see what we were up to. I arrived at about 17:30, with freshly made potato salad for later (using potatoes from the plot and a home-made duck egg mayonnaise). By now it was raining fairly steadily, and the paths began turning into mud.

And for the third slot, we decamped over to the Wimpole Hall Old Farm, carrying over the gear that had been under the pergola on the farm. If it had been dry, the original plan would have been fine, but a few hours of heavy rain were not conducive to a social occasion on bare ground. At least over at the Old Farm kitchen, there was a covered area with tables which we could use. We got the BBQ going and had what was not a bad meal - the salads were appreciated, and Ros had decided that her study on invasive crayfish in English rivers was an excellent opportunity - she turned up with a cool-box filled with American crayfish from her freezer, which were grilled over the coals.

(Not much meat on a crayfish.)

[livejournal.com profile] uitlander was there as well, and [livejournal.com profile] liasbluestone and [livejournal.com profile] mrscosmopilite dropped by briefly to collect some stuff on their way between Wiltshire and Birmingham.

If it had been something other than a day in which several hours of rain deposited tens of mm of rain onto the area, it would have been better, but I actually think we did all enjoy it anyway.

Open day

Aug. 26th, 2010 11:48 am
bellinghman: (Default)
Well, that was interesting. For possibly Chinese values, but it wasn't a total disaster.

Yesterday was the day when the community farm was being shown off. The first slot was the media one, from 15:00 to 17:00, at which a BBC Look East reporter turned up (reportedly in sandals - a few hours later that would have been regrettable, but the rain hadn't started), and the Cambridge and Royston Evening News reporters also came along, or so I hear (I wasn't there, though [livejournal.com profile] bellinghwoman had taken the afternoon off).

17:00 to 19:00 was the second slot, which was for interested people to come along and see what we were up to. I arrived at about 17:30, with freshly made potato salad for later (using potatoes from the plot and a home-made duck egg mayonnaise). By now it was raining fairly steadily, and the paths began turning into mud.

And for the third slot, we decamped over to the Wimpole Hall Old Farm, carrying over the gear that had been under the pergola on the farm. If it had been dry, the original plan would have been fine, but a few hours of heavy rain were not conducive to a social occasion on bare ground. At least over at the Old Farm kitchen, there was a covered area with tables which we could use. We got the BBQ going and had what was not a bad meal - the salads were appreciated, and Ros had decided that her study on invasive crayfish in English rivers was an excellent opportunity - she turned up with a cool-box filled with American crayfish from her freezer, which were grilled over the coals.

(Not much meat on a crayfish.)

[livejournal.com profile] uitlander was there as well, and [livejournal.com profile] liasbluestone and [livejournal.com profile] mrscosmopilite dropped by briefly to collect some stuff on their way between Wiltshire and Birmingham.

If it had been something other than a day in which several hours of rain deposited tens of mm of rain onto the area, it would have been better, but I actually think we did all enjoy it anyway.

Open day

Aug. 24th, 2010 05:01 pm
bellinghman: (Default)
Or at least, open a-couple-of-hours

If anyone is interested in seeing what the Wimpole Community Farm has been doing, how well we've done and where we've not been so successful (I'm looking at you, brassicas!), then we have an open afternoon tomorrow (Wednesday). Time - from 17:00 to 19:00. Place - as per the location below.

(The media will be there from 15:00 to 17:00, and from 19:00 to 21:00 is the member's get-together. Which reminds me - I need to get ingredients for mayonnaise.)

Open day

Aug. 24th, 2010 05:01 pm
bellinghman: (Default)
Or at least, open a-couple-of-hours

If anyone is interested in seeing what the Wimpole Community Farm has been doing, how well we've done and where we've not been so successful (I'm looking at you, brassicas!), then we have an open afternoon tomorrow (Wednesday). Time - from 17:00 to 19:00. Place - as per the location below.

(The media will be there from 15:00 to 17:00, and from 19:00 to 21:00 is the member's get-together. Which reminds me - I need to get ingredients for mayonnaise.)
bellinghman: (Default)
The rain we've been having is finally beginning to have some effect. The potatoes, which were on the verge of drying out, now have plenty of moisture round their roots, and the tubers have swelled from the size of marbles up to plausible new potato size. We actually brought two home last night and cooked them this evening, and steamed, they tasted not bad at all. It's a way from them really being ready for harvest, but they're distinctly potato-scented potatoes, unlike those scrubbed things you tend to encounter in the shops.

The French beans are still doing well, with about a kilo of beans coming from each picking. There are two varieties, and it's the Purple Queen ones (yes, they are purple, not green at all until they're cooked) which are doing particularly well.

The runner beans are still climbing their poles, and there's no sign of fruiting pods yet, but that takes time.

The courgettes are beginning to show. The flowers are full sized, and behind some of them are the initial spherical swellings which will eventually stretch out, like a sausage balloon being inflated, until they're properly ready to pick.

On the salads, the lettuces which we at first thought were dead in the ground finally germinated and now look like real lettuces. As for the spinach - that's doing very nicely thank you.

On the down side, the brassicas have been hit hard by white fly. Although there are lots of ladybirds around now, they weren't earlier, and lacking an effective pesticidal spray, the whitefly have been gorging themselves. We planted a lot, and it's probably just as well, as whether we get any at the end is at this point something I'm not prepared to guarantee.

In a week or so, we'll start planting seeds for next year's early crops: garlic, turnips and onions. This year we were late for most crops, with many being put in as plugs. These are more work to plant, and they cost more, since someone has had to raise them from seed in the first place.
bellinghman: (Default)
The rain we've been having is finally beginning to have some effect. The potatoes, which were on the verge of drying out, now have plenty of moisture round their roots, and the tubers have swelled from the size of marbles up to plausible new potato size. We actually brought two home last night and cooked them this evening, and steamed, they tasted not bad at all. It's a way from them really being ready for harvest, but they're distinctly potato-scented potatoes, unlike those scrubbed things you tend to encounter in the shops.

The French beans are still doing well, with about a kilo of beans coming from each picking. There are two varieties, and it's the Purple Queen ones (yes, they are purple, not green at all until they're cooked) which are doing particularly well.

The runner beans are still climbing their poles, and there's no sign of fruiting pods yet, but that takes time.

The courgettes are beginning to show. The flowers are full sized, and behind some of them are the initial spherical swellings which will eventually stretch out, like a sausage balloon being inflated, until they're properly ready to pick.

On the salads, the lettuces which we at first thought were dead in the ground finally germinated and now look like real lettuces. As for the spinach - that's doing very nicely thank you.

On the down side, the brassicas have been hit hard by white fly. Although there are lots of ladybirds around now, they weren't earlier, and lacking an effective pesticidal spray, the whitefly have been gorging themselves. We planted a lot, and it's probably just as well, as whether we get any at the end is at this point something I'm not prepared to guarantee.

In a week or so, we'll start planting seeds for next year's early crops: garlic, turnips and onions. This year we were late for most crops, with many being put in as plugs. These are more work to plant, and they cost more, since someone has had to raise them from seed in the first place.

On the farm

Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:59 pm
bellinghman: (Default)
No post on what we did on the farm this weekend gone, for the reason obvious from the previous post. As a result of our absence there were only 4 people there yesterday, doing stuff like trimming the potato flowers, mulching the beans, and the like. But at least there's been a bit of rain in the last few days, so hand watering is less vital.

On the farm

Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:59 pm
bellinghman: (Default)
No post on what we did on the farm this weekend gone, for the reason obvious from the previous post. As a result of our absence there were only 4 people there yesterday, doing stuff like trimming the potato flowers, mulching the beans, and the like. But at least there's been a bit of rain in the last few days, so hand watering is less vital.

First crop

Jul. 26th, 2010 11:01 am
bellinghman: (Default)
We've picked the first crop from the farm:



No, it's not a full crop, this is more a case of thinning out some beans. (There are about 200 pods there, of two varieties - the purple ones turn green on cooking.) But we're getting there - even if this first pick was an order of magnitude away from what we'll need for the boxes, it shows that we can get something from this soil. They tasted good, too.

Hmm, it's just as well we like brassicas, because even after the white fly has had its go, we'll have silly amounts of cabbage and Brussels sprouts. And assuming we get any rain to help swell them, lots of tatties too.

First crop

Jul. 26th, 2010 11:01 am
bellinghman: (Default)
We've picked the first crop from the farm:



No, it's not a full crop, this is more a case of thinning out some beans. (There are about 200 pods there, of two varieties - the purple ones turn green on cooking.) But we're getting there - even if this first pick was an order of magnitude away from what we'll need for the boxes, it shows that we can get something from this soil. They tasted good, too.

Hmm, it's just as well we like brassicas, because even after the white fly has had its go, we'll have silly amounts of cabbage and Brussels sprouts. And assuming we get any rain to help swell them, lots of tatties too.
bellinghman: (Default)
One of the things about walking furrows is that one sees small bits of flint around.

At times like that, I'd love to know whether what I'm looking at is an accidental shaping, or whether it is an actual stone tool. Not having the eye to distinguish an eolith from a real tool, I'd like to have an archaeologist to hand, to tell me whether something that fits my hand naturally as a scraper is a scraper, or just an accident.

Yesterday one appeared.

Sadly, he was wandering along with a GPS and maps of Wimpole in 1638 in hand, and he was actually on the lookout for other archaeologists rather than flints.

I wonder whether [livejournal.com profile] uitlander is aware of a Peter Richard Cushing.

As far as work was concerned, we were there for nearly three hours, and we now have lettuces planted, as well as more bean canes. And much watering, too.
bellinghman: (Default)
One of the things about walking furrows is that one sees small bits of flint around.

At times like that, I'd love to know whether what I'm looking at is an accidental shaping, or whether it is an actual stone tool. Not having the eye to distinguish an eolith from a real tool, I'd like to have an archaeologist to hand, to tell me whether something that fits my hand naturally as a scraper is a scraper, or just an accident.

Yesterday one appeared.

Sadly, he was wandering along with a GPS and maps of Wimpole in 1638 in hand, and he was actually on the lookout for other archaeologists rather than flints.

I wonder whether [livejournal.com profile] uitlander is aware of a Peter Richard Cushing.

As far as work was concerned, we were there for nearly three hours, and we now have lettuces planted, as well as more bean canes. And much watering, too.

Farming

Jun. 15th, 2010 12:24 pm
bellinghman: (Default)
This evening, we should finish the planting that we started last Saturday.

On Saturday, we planted 40 strawberry plants (and surrounded them with rare breed bull manure), 80 tomatoes of two varieties, 160 cauliflours, and about 60 shallots. We also got netting over the strawberries and tomatoes.

Today, Brussels sprouts and beans.

Farming

Jun. 15th, 2010 12:24 pm
bellinghman: (Default)
This evening, we should finish the planting that we started last Saturday.

On Saturday, we planted 40 strawberry plants (and surrounded them with rare breed bull manure), 80 tomatoes of two varieties, 160 cauliflours, and about 60 shallots. We also got netting over the strawberries and tomatoes.

Today, Brussels sprouts and beans.
bellinghman: (Default)
My Irish ancestry must be showing through, because I spent Sunday afternoon planting potatoes. Well, we did, with a bunch of other people.

We met up at 14:00, finding that at the time appointed, there was just us and the grower Richard, who we'd not met before. We assured him that others would probably turn up and, indeed, about a dozen of us were there in the end.

The soil was a lot softer than it was last time we were on the ground there. It's had had one late frost after the ploughing, but also two goes over it with a Rotavator to break it up, and it has a fine slightly-clayey texture.

(It's also noticeable how sheltered our two acres are. Just round the corner, it was blowy and blustery. But our area, which has mature trees on three sides, was almost still.)

Planting involved first working out where to put them. We had a tractor and a ridger available to us, and the decision ended up being to run the rows parallel to the western fence. The ridger is a three bladed plough, with each blade being double sided - in fact, rather the shape of a supertanker's bow from the top of the bulge upwards. The point runs along beneath the surface, and the blades behind that push the soil up and to the sides. With three of these blades, the ridger would produce two central ridges, and a smaller ridge to either side.

Richard had brought 4 sacks - a total of 100kg - of seed potatoes, which should have been 225 potatoes per sack. This would give us about 900 plants, so the idea went, or roughly a plant per week for each of 50 boxes over a 20 week season.

We started planting them at 30cm intervals along the tops of the ridges - and in fact, I was the first to do so, thus becoming the first person to plant anything. Once the first two ridges had been planted, Richard ran the tractor back down the rows, bringing up more soil to pile the ridges higher and cover the seeds that we'd placed there. We then went back down the rows making sure all the seed potatoes were properly covered, and hand covering any that hadn't been properly buried.

So it went. We finally ran pretty much out of the seed potatoes somewhat later than expected, and when we calculated how many had actually been planted into the soil, we came up with 16 rows, each ~130' long, totalling 2080 potatoes. (OK, 2096 because of the fencepost effect, but actually the accuracy ain't that close.)

And I now feel a little stiff in the back and legs.
bellinghman: (Default)
My Irish ancestry must be showing through, because I spent Sunday afternoon planting potatoes. Well, we did, with a bunch of other people.

We met up at 14:00, finding that at the time appointed, there was just us and the grower Richard, who we'd not met before. We assured him that others would probably turn up and, indeed, about a dozen of us were there in the end.

The soil was a lot softer than it was last time we were on the ground there. It's had had one late frost after the ploughing, but also two goes over it with a Rotavator to break it up, and it has a fine slightly-clayey texture.

(It's also noticeable how sheltered our two acres are. Just round the corner, it was blowy and blustery. But our area, which has mature trees on three sides, was almost still.)

Planting involved first working out where to put them. We had a tractor and a ridger available to us, and the decision ended up being to run the rows parallel to the western fence. The ridger is a three bladed plough, with each blade being double sided - in fact, rather the shape of a supertanker's bow from the top of the bulge upwards. The point runs along beneath the surface, and the blades behind that push the soil up and to the sides. With three of these blades, the ridger would produce two central ridges, and a smaller ridge to either side.

Richard had brought 4 sacks - a total of 100kg - of seed potatoes, which should have been 225 potatoes per sack. This would give us about 900 plants, so the idea went, or roughly a plant per week for each of 50 boxes over a 20 week season.

We started planting them at 30cm intervals along the tops of the ridges - and in fact, I was the first to do so, thus becoming the first person to plant anything. Once the first two ridges had been planted, Richard ran the tractor back down the rows, bringing up more soil to pile the ridges higher and cover the seeds that we'd placed there. We then went back down the rows making sure all the seed potatoes were properly covered, and hand covering any that hadn't been properly buried.

So it went. We finally ran pretty much out of the seed potatoes somewhat later than expected, and when we calculated how many had actually been planted into the soil, we came up with 16 rows, each ~130' long, totalling 2080 potatoes. (OK, 2096 because of the fencepost effect, but actually the accuracy ain't that close.)

And I now feel a little stiff in the back and legs.
bellinghman: (Default)
The fencing is now complete. The gate has yet to be hung, but a three hour session this evening completed all the rabbit fencing - there must be about 300 metres or so of it in total.

In fact, we all left at 19:45, with 15 minutes of the period left.

(No, we didn't get there till 18:00, so our contribution was a bit under 2 hours. Evening sessions will be like that though: not everyone gets off work at the same time.)

There seems to be a point with fencing where suddenly it becomes much quicker. It's somewhere around the point where a whole length of chicken wire is being held up against the posts: if there are two people left over to staple the top, that bit goes twice as quick as if there's only one.
bellinghman: (Default)
The fencing is now complete. The gate has yet to be hung, but a three hour session this evening completed all the rabbit fencing - there must be about 300 metres or so of it in total.

In fact, we all left at 19:45, with 15 minutes of the period left.

(No, we didn't get there till 18:00, so our contribution was a bit under 2 hours. Evening sessions will be like that though: not everyone gets off work at the same time.)

There seems to be a point with fencing where suddenly it becomes much quicker. It's somewhere around the point where a whole length of chicken wire is being held up against the posts: if there are two people left over to staple the top, that bit goes twice as quick as if there's only one.

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