We had planned to plant up the tunnels with peppers and tomatoes this last week, but with the cold nights forecast for the next few days we decided to hold off and get everything prepared for the plantings, and then focus on outdoor work.
We cleared the remaining salad crops from the tunnel beds and broadforked them before putting up the strings which the tomatoes will be trained onto.
We are having a bit of a nightmare with woodlice in the polytunnels along with a new pest to us - symphylans. These look like tiny white centipedes and eat new roots. They have totally stunted the spring onion plants that we planted a few weeks ago, as any new roots sent out are eaten. We are hoping that as the tomatoes have a bigger root system they will be able to overcome the damage caused by the symphylans. Fingers crossed...Often in organic systems we see a pest population arise when there is imbalance, but this is often overcome with the rise in population of predators as a result of more food supply for them. In the case of woodlice and symphylans in the tunnels we have been adding a lot of fairly woody compost to the tunnels over the years, and this has increased the organic matter a lot, but also provided perfect conditions for these crop pests. We have seen a rise in numbers of centipedes recently and hopefully these will slowly get ontop of the number of woodlice along with the spiders in the tunnels.
We managed to get our shallots planted, which will be ready to harvest as fresh bunched shallots from some time in July. We also planted another succession of outdoor mangetout and a couple of beds of aztec broccoli which you will be able to try in the summer!
It was a good week for hoeing with the sun and the breeze so we got round to a fair amount of that too.
Next week we will start to get the peppers and tomatoes planted as well as lots more chard, perpetual spinach, beetroot, kale, spring onions, salads...
We are spending more and more time harvesting now as we are getting more of our own produce from the tunnels and early sowings outdoors - with perpetual spinach, red russian kale, radish, salad turnips, spring onions, salad, sugarsnap peas, and new this coming week will be little gem lettuce and rocket that will be going into the bags.
It feels great for us to have much more of our own produce going into the veg bags, but we will still need to buy in a few items for the next month or so until we have more variety, so the mushrooms and potatoes are being bought in at the moment, and we may need to get some chard from Shillingford Organics next week.
Ashley has been running Trill Farm Garden since 2010 with his partner Kate. Ellen is the Senior Grower and Seed Coordinator at Trill Farm Garden.