Initially we planned to grow cut flowers as an additional offering at farmers markets and our box scheme but the demand to supply locally grown seasonal flowers for weddings and events was more than we had expected so other areas of the garden have been turned over to flower production.
Having previously only grown flowers in a garden at home among mixed beds growing on this scale has been a steep learning curve with gluts and famines and crops flattened by bad weather without proper supports.
Jugs of flowers for a local hotel and resturant
Valentines Wreath Feb 2018
Bridal posy Oct 2017
Autumnal arrangement 2017
Tulips , cerinthe, flowering currant and artichoke leaves
Arrangement for front desk of local hotel
Christmas table centre 2017
Jam jar flowers
Rows of flowers
Large pedestal arrangement
Cut bunch for market
Flower wands for flower girls Oct 2017
Cut flower bed in full bloom Sept 2017
As well as supplying bunches for farmers markets we have a contract with a local hotel and restaurant and offer a bespoke service for weddings, event decoration and bouquets as presents.
We grow a wide range of produce including vegetables , herbs, salads, soft fruit, hard fruit, edible flowers, cut flowers and microgreens. All our produce are grown using organic methods using open pollinated varieties to encourage bees and butterflies and biological nemotodes for pests.
As well as growing traditional high yielding varieties we like to grow heritage types along side for better flavours and unusual collections including Oca, Chinese Artichokes, Mashua, Goji Berries and Vietnamese Coriander to keep our customers trying new things.
This was the only area ready to grow when we began, a large rectangle of ploughed ground . We set out a large quad for vegetable rotation of roots , brassicas, legumes and salads with 2 smaller beds towards the perimeter for annual herbs and a large 5m wide strip along the bottom for cut flowers.
We raked the soil and trampled the earth to form the paths. We sowed direct in successions of 2 and 4 weeks depending on the crop and used hazel sticks with the top split cut to write the labels.
We fed the soil with manure , chicken pellets and seaweed, although we are not registered organic we follow those principals in all areas of production in the garden.
That autumn we turf cut new beds for soft fruit and used the turf to replace the earth paths .
During the winter of 2017 we have heavily mulched the beds with a green waste compost and are reverting to a no dig bio intensive approach to increase production on a commercial scale. We have also grown the Brassicas through mypex to minimize time spent weeding and erected a large netted enclosure to ward off the caterpillars.
This year ( 2018) we are trialing biodegradable organic roll for the onions and leeks to combat the weeds and green manures as cover crops and to add to to our compost system(see future posts to see if it works).
This greenhouse was a serious upgrade in size from the domestic 2m x 3m we had been using at home this one is 27m x 4m . This is the only greenhouse which was in working order and the owners also replaced the roof vents and side windows with perspex .
Initially we used it to protect and bring on our plant nursery stock as we were still propagating in our existing domestic one. After the 1st summer we looked to getting the greatest use out of this valuable protecting growing environment and added plant staging for propagation and raised beds for growing. The soil was basically dust and we bought in manure and top soil for the beds. The autumn winter of 2016 we used the new raised beds for growing winter salads. In January 2017 we repainted all the brick work to increase light levels and reconfigured the greenhouse creating a back border against the wall and large middle border and a small pot standing border to the front. We also added seeper hose to the back and middle border and drip irrigation for the pots at the front. This work also coincided with my parents removing an old patio so we were able to re use the concrete slabs for paths ideal for spraying and damping down in the hot summer months.
This greenhouse is now used mainly for growing in winter for salads, edible flowers including pansies , violas and primroses and an early crop of sweet peas. We also bring in pots of bulbs for early forcing. In spring we need the extra space for propagation with the plant staging bursting with newly sown trays. In summer tomatoes, chilies, aubergines, lemon grass,basil and cucumbers fill the beds. We have also planted indoor ripening figs along the back wall and some deliciously scented lemon verbena.
When looking around the garden initially we presumed this was just a low lying area of scrub grass but after speaking to the owners we were informed it was used as a menage. Being naive to all things horsey we thought this meant the ground had been leveled with a layer of gravel and sand added. Well this was the case and although the sand had now been replaced with moss, weeds and grass underneath was 4ft of hardcore meaning our original intention of using this area for growing had to be re thought.
After using a spade to scrape away the scrub we realized there was a good surface of gravel underneath. Back came the digger to remove the top surface (80 tonnes later) which was then used to bring up the level of the new cut flower beds. We now have a perfect flat area for standing out for our plant nursery.
The next phase for this area will be the erection of poly tunnels for growing pot based crops such as tomatoes and chilies.