Thursday, 19 July 2007

March of the caterpillar

During a routine clean up of the plants i found this highly coloured fellow, beautiful as he is it's not worth the risk of letting him stay to eat something valuable. Time to get an insect ID methinks.

We've been lucky the last few days, lots of sun and rain, perfect for the plants. My earlier depression over wet weather and blight on tomatoes et al seems to have lifted. Thanks to the dry weather and seaweed spraying the blight is slowly retreating, leaving me with healthy plants once again.

My boxes are getting bigger now the latest delivery on Wednesday the 18th included:
3 beetroots
2 round courgettes
1 sweet pepper
1 cucumber
some broad beans
1 lettuce
1 small bag of salads
1 very small bag of basil!
1 lb of spuds
beans and mange tout peas
1 radish
1 polen tomato

I'm finally approaching or just over the £10 mark and aim to be over £15 from august to october, onions, aubergines and peppers will be coming in like wild then. I'm still having trouble with slugs and have resorted to the sharp knife method....

Things like sweetcorn pictured here are doing great, this is "ashworth" and it seems to be doing well with the "3 sisters method" created by the native americans where they grow corn, beans and squash together, although my beans have all been eaten so it's more like the "2 sisters" (doesen't sound so good!...:-)

I've purchased a great little tool called a refractomoter which measures the sugars in sap/juice, this lets me know roughly how much minerals are in the plant and thus how nutritious it is. In my view this should be compulsory for all farmers especially organic ones. This way you can see partway through the season how your crop is doing and can take steps to correct deficiencies, too many "organic" crops are actually lower in nutrients than some of their conventional neighbours due to the soil they are grown in, more on this later.

So things are going well, growth is at full throttle, including the weeds so i'm off to remove some of them!

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The Rainy Season

Well it seems that cornwall has a monsoon season i wasen't aware of!! "it's been 2 or 3 weeks now of constant, endless rain, the wettest june on record or so i hear.. This constant moisture has really impacted on the project. First theslugs are at epidemic proportions eating everything in sight.
The moisture in the air means it's perfect weather for blight to spread, all the potatoes have it as do the tomatoes(related species) I can only pray that the weather will shift.
It's a sign of the times I suppose, as our climate changes so must we. It makes me think more and more of planting trees and shrubs which are edible. Less hassle, more productive and the slugs won't eat them..(unless they evolve along with us!)
So yes things are gloomy and yes i'm gloomy as are the bees who can't get out to the flowers in this weather. They are a bit grumpy at the moment so i'm leaving them alone!
But ever since the swarm happened a few weeks ago the 2 colonies seem to be doing ok.
Here's a pic of the swarm in a hawthorn tree:

They are now rehoused in their new "top bar hive" this is a more natural hive design which gives the bees the freedom to build comb to the size and shape they require, itmeans less honey for me but more wax and more importantly happy bees.

here's a link to some info on natural beekeeping:
Bio bees
So i've decided to stick with only 5 boxes a week due to the slug presence in the area. Hopefully this will change in the coming weeks. I've got to start thinking of winter crops now, something i havent grown much of.
more soon..