March was a busy month with lots of sowings, cultivating, planting out and continually harvesting. And now our friends at Trill Farm cannot quite believe that April has come around so soon.
From the garden…
Although the salad has been a bit fiddly picking due to slug damage we have still managed to harvest over 100kg from the tunnels since the end of winter. We have begun harvesting spring greens, continued picking purple and white sprouting broccoli and kale and started pulling spring onions from the tunnel as well as continuing with the parsley, chervil and coriander.Sowings throughout March have overall been successful and the propagation tunnel is full of plants that will be planted throughout this month. April is a big month for planting and signals the turnaround in the polytunnels from winter salad to summer crops.
The winter salad is just beginning to flower and so leaf production is now slowing as the plants try to flower and set seed due to the change in day length and temperature. The tomatoes, cucumbers, French beans, melons, chillies and aubergines are growing well in the propagating tunnel.
Some of these are growing much more rapidly in their pots compared to last year due to the warm march weather. We are hoping they will remain happy in pots until mid-late April when we will plant them out into the tunnel.
Feeding the soil
Most of our potatoes have been planted and we have begun to plant shallots from sets. Spring onions have also been planted out and carrots, radish, broad beans and peas have all been sown direct into the soil. We have also sown our green manure ley, which is a pure stand of red clover.
This will fix nitrogen from the air into the soil throughout the summer and will then be turned in next spring before planting potatoes which are heavy feeders and so benefit from the clover.
Green manures are an integral part of organic farming and growing and improve the fertility of soil as well as adding organic matter, which has huge benefits to soil structure and biodiversity.
Our summer salad (mainly lettuce) will be planted shortly as will chard, beets, spinach, onions and shallots (from seed). We have also started sowing herbs for the new herb garden at Trill, many of which have started germinating in the propagating tunnel.
We are also looking forward to the fact that our weekly stall outside Town Mill Bakery in Lyme Regis starts up again on the 7th April. We will be selling vegetables, plants and other farm produce throughout the spring, summer and autumn every Saturday.
…and into the kitchen
Everywhere you look at this time of year there is an abundance of wild greens. Spring is a good time to harvest some chickweed and make this unusual pesto.
1 Blend all the ingredients together and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and salt. It’s that simple !
Pile high on fresh baked bread or add to a barley risotto. (Read more about Trill’s barley harvest in the March edition).
The parsley in Trill Farm Garden is vibrant and green and so is this soup, which was inspired by Kate. It is simple to prepare and delicious to eat.
1 Melt the butter in a thick-based pan and gently cook the onion, garlic and potatoes stirring for about 5 minutes.
2 Twist the stalks off the parsley and add to the pot along with the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
3 Coarsely chop the parsley and add to the soup. Allow the hot soup to cool slightly. Blend the soup until smooth, return to the pan season well with salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
4 Serve in warm bowls.
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