Peas, Bees and a Resident Pheasant
Updates from our Market Garden
A rather rainy May followed by a sunshine-y type of June has seen the Market Garden on our Farm in Devon flourish with all types of wildlife. With Great British Pea Week, a celebration of the little green, nutrient packed veggies grown around the country, only a few weeks away, we thought now the perfect time to let you know what our team in the Garden have been up to this spring…
Give Peas a Chance!
Great British Pea Week, which runs from 5th to 11th July, aims to boost awareness and understanding of the history and heritage of peas in the UK. The annual celebration takes place during pea harvesting season, launched by the Yes Peas! campaign to acknowledge the industry’s effort to keep the UK’s supply of peas healthy and thriving.
Organic Garden Peas of an heirloom variety Blauwschokker were one of the first plants to flower in our Market Garden this spring and have now been harvested. It’s a good job too as the Garden’s resident pheasant is a big fan. He also likes the Broad Beans (ours are Aquadulce) growing in the polytunnel, so much so that he brought his wife to enjoy them as well.
The Birds and Bees
The Market Garden pheasant is not the only member of the animal kingdom to visit our team of expert gardeners. The team have been busy planting a number of bee-friendly flowers to encourage bumblebees and hoverflies to the Garden and polytunnel. Phacelia Tanacetifolia is just one of these plants and is actually listed in the top 20 honey-producing flowers for honey bees. The bees are also loving our newly blooming Comfrey, used in the Garden as plant feed and fertiliser.
As well as the bees and flies who enjoy a delicious bite of the Market Garden’s pesty aphids, head Market Gardener Laura and her team have employed some ladybirds as part of their integrated pest management control programme. The ladybird larvae quickly progressed into the poly tunnel, gorging on the woolly aphids who enjoy (much to the team’s dismay) a munch on our organic chilli leaves. The ladybirds are voracious predators who protect the crops by eating the aphids.
The Market Garden potting shed became the brief home of a mother blackbird and her chicks before they turned to fledglings. The team counted five blackbird young cozied up in their nest earlier this month. Now, the gardeners are keeping an eye out for a nest of Robins that have made the garden their home. Thomas at the Market Garden also spotted a golden chrysalis which we believe to be the home of a forthcoming Monarch Butterfly.
The golden chrysalis found at the Garden
Field to Fork and Back Again
The Market Garden team have also been working hard to supply the newly opened Eversfield Organic Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale (and our Organic Farm Shops) with organic vegetables and even a few edible garnishes. The team are proud to have so many heirloom varieties of organic veg, grown from seed, on our organic farm. Examples include organic courgettes of the Golden Zucchini variety and White Wonder Cucumbers. The polytunnel also has Kiera Cucumber plants that have been assisted with growing strings (we all need support sometimes), to romp up lengths and ensure the plants don’t take a tumble when the organic cucumbers get heavy. The Farm Shops were also lucky enough to receive the first crop of Messidor Softneck Garlic with seeds sourced locally from Tamar Organics. This organic garlic variety is delightful in salads, used to make mayonnaise or in Mediterranean dishes.
Messidor Softneck Garlic
A few of the intriguing edible garnishes for the Dartmoor Inn include Purslane, Chicory and Endive. Purslane is a herb that was popular in Elizabethan apothecaries, but is now often found in gardens across the country (including the Market Garden). It’s usually confused as a weed, but Purslane can actually be picked and eaten as is. This way, you’ll reap all of the rewards of this nutrient packed organic herb. The Chicory plant is pretty much completely edible, including the root which can be roasted, and makes for a great, natural coffee alternative.
Purslane growing in our organic Garden
As our local delivery drivers take the organic food from the Garden to the Farm Shops and the Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale, it’s only natural that they should take any waste produce back to the farm to be composted. And that’s exactly what happens. Any waste from the inn or the shops gets taken back to the Market Garden to be composted, helping to keep the soil fertile (producing the tastiest, most nutritious organic vegetables) and improve its structure for planting.
Whether you’re heading down to the Dartmoor Inn to try a Market Garden salad alongside organic steak, heading to our Farm Shops in Tavistock and Totnes to grab some organic vegetables or placing an online delivery for an organic veg box, now is a great time to dive into some seasonal produce.