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Organic Hummus
Slater's Organics Update - April 2013

In Bob's opinion, March and April are the most important months of the year from a grower's point of view. Almost all of our crops are sown or planted during this period;  if the weather is favourable, it  allows the plants to get a good start and hopefully provide us with a plentiful harvest. At the beginning of the year, Bob draws up a monthly sowing programme, so that he knows the order in which the indoor and outdoor seeds need to be sown, and what preparations must be done to keep us on schedule. 

Checking over this year's work list, Bob pointed out to me that he is yet to complete February's chores – and it is all down to the cold weather. The problems we are experiencing are the same for all the farmers and growers in the country, with livestock farmers suffering particularly at the moment, as you have no doubt seen or heard in the news. From our point of view, we should be able to catch up with our sowing and planting if the weather takes a more normal course from now on; but Bob says this will entail many long hard days working in the garden. I have a feeling this latter comment is possibly aimed at me, as I resume my duties at Rise this month!

Our overwintered leeks, which would normally have all finished by now, are just starting to show strong growth; but out broccoli has been completely ruined by hungry pigeons, despite Bob's efforts to keep them away with the hawk kite scarer. The pheasants have discovered  the bed of Swiss chard, which should soon be starting to grow again after its winter dormant period, but Bob has managed to cover it in fleece, so it should be safe for the time being.

Bob has been able to sow our first outdoor seeds – parsnips and spring onions. The seed beds were easy to prepare; they were quite dry, owing mainly to the cold east winds we experienced in the second half of March. These cold easterlies take the moisture out of the soil, but tend to leave the surface as hard as concrete; a pass over with the rotovator produces a good seed bed, but will also give rise to a weed problem as soon as the weather warms up.

In ideal circumstances, Bob leaves a gap of about 2 weeks between the initial establishment of the seed bed and sowing or planting the crop. This allows any weed seeds to germinate; a light cultivation of the soil then buries them, and our seeds can then be sown in a clean bed. This is known as a stale seed bed method, but will only work well if the soil is warm enough to germinate the weed seeds. Unfortunately this year that is not the case; the weeds will appear at the same time as our crops, and have to be dealt with accordingly. Hmm, I wonder who will be busy weeding later in the season?

Bob has also begun to plant out the onions which were sown in module trays in the polytunnel in January. They germinated well and are looking quite healthy – which is more than can be said for Bob, who looks positively daunted at the prospect of 30,000 plus seedlings to transplant. Even then, he cannot relax – the early broad beans are also ready, having been covered in fleece inside the tunnel to protect them from the sharp overnight frosts; and the early beetroot and leeks will soon be clamouring for his attention too.

So, all in all, we are in for a challenging time at the garden, at the mercy of the weather as usual. But Bob always remains positive, and with his trusty helper by his side, will endeavour to provide tasty vegetables for the boxes.


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Arthur St Trading Ltd, 2 Woodyard Cottages, Jubilee Lane, Rise. HU11 5BN | Telephone: 07949 805695 | Email:
A Workers Co-operative registered in England. | Organic Certification GB-ORG-05. | Reg No: 3843444. | VAT No: 842 9001 43.