Springtime Market Garden Updates
We headed down to our Farm’s Market Garden to see what’s been going on this Spring…
When we think of spring, we often think of warmer days, lighter evenings, and most importantly the emergence of springtime colours. As we head down to the Market Garden on our organic farm the turn of the seasons is evident, as the garden is filled with the green that is so closely associated with the spring and summer. Our polytunnels are full of green, green plants and our team of Market Gardens are always trailing new growing methods to produce delicious, organic fruit and veg…
Growing Around the Garden
Our team of brilliant Market Gardeners are taking full advantage of the space in the garden, growing in a variety of places. In our handmade greenhouse, seedlings are growing on our heated seed benches, from traditional varieties to more unique plants. For our Farm Shops and the Dartmoor Inn, the heated seed benches are producing the beginnings of heirloom tomatoes, various types of salad leaves, basil (which is smelling delicious!), coloured sweetcorn (which Head Market Gardener Kelvin suggests is to be used to create popcorn as a bar snack at the inn), aubergines and chillies. And of course, everything produced in the garden is organic fruit and veg.
The team are also working on growing some more unique organic vegetables, including soya beans (otherwise known as edamame beans), oca – a South American tuber vegetable, sweet, sweet purslane for the Dartmoor Inn salads and Salsola (also called Saltwort) – an annual herb native to China, Japan, Korea and Eastern Russia. The heated seed benches in our greenhouse really are a grower’s paradise.
As we head outside, Kelvin takes us to see a selection of plants that are currently hardening off. This allows the plants to adapt fully from being in the protected, stable environment of the greenhouse to the harsher environment of the outside. This means the plants have a better chance of survival when moved to other areas of the garden where they may be exposed to harsher weather and pests. Growing in our hardening off section, we have organic Brussels sprouts and organic rhubarb. We’re most excited about the prospect of growing our own organic rhubarb, perfect for making a variety of kitchen creations throughout the summer.
Next, Kelvin showed us to the polytunnels, which are brimming with gorgeous greens. More organic salad leaves are growing here alongside the pretty edible flowers served in our Dartmoor Inn salads and almost-Eversfield Organic Blue sweet peas. There’s also spring garlic and borage growing in the polytunnels, as well as organic rocket. However, our rocket is struggling a little, Kelvin explains, due to the contrast of cold nights and warm days making the plant go to seed and producing bitter leaves. And arguably most importantly, the team have installed hanging baskets filled with marigolds to work as an organic pest deterrent.
Kelvin and the team use a variety of effective gardening methods that are in line with our organic farming practises. Firstly, they follow the no dig planting method, which sees weeds controlled by shallow hoeing, hand weeding and mulching. This method ensures a healthy soil full of beneficial organisms and microbes which helps the plants find all the nutrients and moisture needed for effective growing in a protective and easy growing system.
Alongside their no dig gardening, the team also use minimal till gardening. This method is a part of the soil conservation practises on our organic farm, in which we aim to preserve our soils for years to come. Some intensive farm methods till their soils which changes the structure of the soil. However, our method sees minimal soil manipulation in our crop production, protecting the soil and effectively growing healthy plants.
Our Market Gardeners have also been using other methods to combat pests in an organic way. As a Soil Association certified organic farm, we do no use manmade or artificial pesticides, so the team are using interplanting. Interplanting gardening sees our varieties planted next to different plants, to ensure if pests do manage to get one, they won’t get them all. At the moment, the team are using chives to plant between other varieties in this method.
In an attempt to make effective use of the space in the garden, our gardeners are also using the three sisters growing method. This uses organic squash, sweetcorn and peas for growth at ground, mid and high levels. This effective use of space in the “stacked” garden uses 3 layers and is also great for avoiding weeds and pests and enriches the soil. Sounds like a win, win… win to us!
Thanks for all their effective gardening methods and hard work growing organic veg, our Market Garden produce will soon be available for our online organic veg boxes. For the time being, if you live locally, pop into our Farm Shops in Marlborough, Totnes or Tavistock to get your hands on our fresh fruit and veg, or visit us at the Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale to sample our Market Garden produce.