It looks like the early spring is set to continue: we have leaves emerging on the hawthorn hegdes; green kale flowering, and meadow pipits singing above us.
Spring means the start of the new growing season for us. The ploughing is already done. The muck pile has been turned over. Let the seeding begin!
In order to offer a wide variety of veg, and to make sure we have healthy transplants to go out into the field, we grow all our own veg from seed. We grow over 90 different varieties of veg each year. Some crops like potatoes, carrots and baby leaf salad are sown straight into the ground, once it is warm enough. But the vast majority of what appears in your veg box we grow as transplants.
We sow the seedlings - by hand - into trays of separate small modules; filled with a very fine growing media (made from peat recycled from the bottom of a reservoir and certified by Soil Associaiton). The modlue trays then go into one of our two heated propagation benches, where the temperature and mositure can be controlled, to trigger germination. Once they are about 5cm tall., the baby plants are moved onto growing benches in the polytunnel, where we can again control the mositure and protect them from late frosts. About 6 weeks later, they are ready to be hardened off in the cold frames for a week. And then planted out into the field: all by hand.
Its a lot of delicate work to get the plants going, but pays dividends later on with healthier and hardier crops. It also means we avoid buying in any plants, which greatly reduces the risk of bringing in pests and diseases.
So far we have seeded just over 4,000 modules. So that's only another 51,000 to go!
The veg boxes will continue for just one more delivery after this, with the last delviery of this season on 18 and 19 April, just in time for the Easter weekend break. We then take a two month break, whilst we get the crops planted. Deliveries start again in the first week of July, when we will hopefully have salad, cucumber, new potatoes and strawberries to share!