Green Manure

Green Manures are a bit of a mystery to me, but fortunately I’m not allowed anywhere near the plants, and the rest of the team are wise in the intricacies of soil.

Green Manure is a winter thing for Growing Well, and this year we’re using Rye Grass and Vetch. These plants grow quickly, and absorb nitrogen from the air and ‘fix it’ in root nodules on their roots so that when it is dug in it becomes available to the following crop.  Their deep roots also open up the soil, helping drainage and reducing compaction by heavy rain over the winter.  Apparently Green Manures were always used up until the Second World War when chemical use took over in popularity, but now organic growers like Growing Well are making good use of old school knowledge.

 

Springtime tasks on the field

This time of year so much is happening at Growing Well. Spring cabbage, Kohl Rabi, Beetroot and Chard plants are now a couple of inches high, being hardened off ready to be planted outside. Having been sown late February they have left the warmth of our propagation tunnel and are sitting under fleece on a raised bed outside. Plants need to be resilient to survive in Cumbria so slowly introducing them to the climate they are going to face is a key.

Tomatoes, Aubergines and Peppers are less hardy and are still growing away inside a heated tunnel protecting them from the risk of frost.

The ploughing has been done this week. With a lot of surface water still evident, it was with some trepidation that we turned the first furrow. The subsoil conditions were surprising dry minimising the risk of compaction from the tractor tyres. We just have to wait now for the conditions to dry before we can do any further cultivation. We have 300kg of potatoes waiting to be planted and a further 100kg of onions sitting and ready. As soon as the sun comes out we will be very busy . The year rolls on.

The propagation tunnel is nearly full

We have taken full advantage of the milder weather and the propagation tunnel is already looking full. Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergines are timidly braving our February weather,our heated propagation bench keeps the worse of the chill off and a shroud of fleece protects them from the evening drafts.

The repetitive task of seed sowing marks out our year and provides a solid beat behind all the activity of Growing Well. Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergines all need to be started early in the year. They need time to mature before they come into fruit. We will keep them inside the propagation tunnel until May. Then we will plant them out into the unheated tunnels once the risk of frost has passed.
 
All our task need planning.The crop plans for the year are just being finished. Each bed and each area has been planned. Each seed we sow has a home and destination. We make sure we keep to the beat, because without the plants we have no produce.