A few snapshots of the more interesting crops growing in the polytunnel.
A new greenhouse with an electric supply has allowed us to trial growing lemongrass plants in some NFT and Aeroponic hydroponic systems.
We now have Lemongrass plants in a Nutriculture NFT hydroponic grow tank, some Fennel in a smaller NFT system and some ‘mother’ lemongrass plants in an aeroponics tank.
I have no idea if Fennel will grow successfully in a pot let alone in a hydroponic system but am giving it a go. I will hopefully trail some in the same system but outside as ‘bolting’ might be an issue for the fennel plants if they are kept in a greenhouse.
I also wanted to trial some hydroponic Celeriac which will definitely need to be outside but have possibly left it too late for getting seeds started for this growing season.
The bigger lemongrass plants sat in the NFT system have started to put roots beyond the pot and onto the spreader mat.
The Lemongrass in the aeroponics system has been in for a week now and the root growth through the net pots is most impressive.
Two attacks over three days have seen our much loved hens have suffered badly at the hands of one or more foxes.
On both occasions, the attacks were made early evening well before dusk. Whilst the hens have enjoyed spending the days roaming around the woodland the down side is not being able to offer them 100% protection before they go indoors to roost and once Mr fox has worked this out there is very little we can do.
Our little flock has been devastated with just a handful of old girls remaining who, I suspect, had already gone to bed.
I really can’t face clearing up such a scene again so, unless we can find a cast iron method of protecting them, I think that is it. Very sad.
It’s a bit late but today I eventually got around to separating out the overwintered clumps of Lemongrass and re-potting them as single stems to make this years crop.
All these lemongrass stems are from a one clump which in turn was a single stick of Lemongrass a year ago. You tend to get around 25 new plants from every stem over the 12 months.
The difference between shop bought (air freighted) sticks and freshly cut homegrown lemongrass is poles apart and the fragrance given off when working with the plants is lovely.
Once established, the new plants will be sold locally or potted on to make more plants for next year.
Having caught out with the very late frost last year I have delayed the sowing of outdoor crops by two weeks which has allowed me more time to get the polytunnel better organised.
We have used reservoir trays for the tomatoes for a few years now and, by maintaining the compost moisture levels, they have proved effective at minimising blossom end rot.
For the first time, we are also trying some miniature french beans in the same system.
A tray is reserved for some Clive Bevan long runner beans which hopefully will provide a competitive entry for the longest runner bean category at the Hesketh Bank Village Show.
In the top left of the photo you can see a tray of lemongrass which has overwintered without protection in the polytunnel and is now bursting with life.
The past few days have taken place in a large cloud of sawdust as we try and catch up on a few bespoke orders for BIG chunky chopping boards.
Thick milled planks are cut to best make use of their individual natural grain patterns. All boards are marked out by hand and consequently no two boards are ever the same.
Our boards grace many a TV studio kitchen and are also used in photo shoots for an ever increasing amount of in house and retail food magazines.
Interestingly, when our chunky chopping boards leave Lancashire and travel down the motorway, somewhere around Watford they become ‘Rustic Serving Platters’ and the price quadruples!
As the trend for rustic weddings has increased so has the demand from caterers and wedding planners (professional or DIY) for these boards. Subject to availability (and enough notice) we also do log rings and slices for cake stands.
For a small additional fee, we can also personalise a board with a text message or logo burnt into the edge or surface of the board.
We can’t do ‘urgent’. We may have something suitable already in stock but if not it takes time to locate suitable logs and get them transported and milled. It then takes at least two years for the milled boards to be air dried sufficiently before they are ready for turning into our lovely rustic serving boards.
Cow muck is THE essential ingredient for our big pumpkins and giant vegetables.
The delivery of the cow muck always heralds the start of a new growing season. We work one year ahead so this muck heap will be piled up and left to rot for use next year.
The muck pile from last year has now been spread and left to overwinter on the growing beds.
Having already completed the Artisan Foodworks ‘Basic Breadmaking’ course at some time ago, the ‘Mastering Sourdough’ course was a natural follow on.
David and Julie were again the perfect hosts and the gang of eager students were a good bunch.
My haul of my own handcrafted sourdough bread made on the day was impressive:
For a novice it is an awful lot to take in but having spent a few hours re-reading the course notes and watching youtube tutorials it is now all fitting into place.
David sent us all away with a cup of his treasured sourdough starter which I have been nurturing carefully.
Flying solo, I have now proudly produced my own sourdough pizza base and a couple of wholemeal loaves and am slowly gaining a bit more confidence.
At present I am minimising variables and using the electric oven but with a view to having a go in the wood fired oven very soon. All good fun!