For those of you who don’t know too much about the Rocket Farm we thought we’d introduce a regular “Down on the Farm” slot in our Veg Out Newsletters to give you a little behind the scenes glimpse into the world of Rocket Gardens. Our farm is based in the far south of Cornwall just a couple of miles from The Lizard Peninsula, the most southerly tip in the UK. It’s a great place to grow our plants as we have brilliant light levels and a warm climate with very few frosts.
We’ve had a fantastic couple of weeks of warm, dry weather to kick off autumn this year so we’ve been making the most of it with outdoor jobs before the Cornish winter (windy and rainy by default) kicks in.
Richard and his Bees
We are lucky enough to have a resident bee keeper working right here on the Rocket Farm. Richard is our chief plant raiser and horticulturalist, but he also loves keeping bees.
This summer a fresh swarm of honey bees arrived on the farm and they’ve been making a new home in a special little hive that he’s set up for them. This week they have been given their first treatment of Api Guard to help to prevent them being affected by the varroa mite which is a real problem for honey bees at the moment. If untreated, these blood-sucking little mites can literally wipe out entire colonies of bees, and the knock on effect would be disastrous. We really, really need bees in our world to keep pollinating all our fruit and veg plants!
As the days are still warm they are still out and about busy hunting for pollen so we’ll let you know how they are getting on as the seasons change.
A New Veg Patch
As we’ve been clearing a bit of space away from our polytunnels (where we sow all our seeds and nurture them until they are big and strong enough to be sent to their new homes in your own gardens) we’ve been keen to get a decent sized veg patch on the go so that we can put together some helpful ‘grow your own’ video tutorials for you next year and so that we have an area where we can grow and test all sorts of new varieties for your forthcoming Instant Gardens.
It’s a fun and exciting project as we’ve been using materials that we’ve gathered and recycled from the farm this year. The walls of the new raised beds have been made from local larch trees from “Big Joe”, just down the road at Joe’s Sawmills.
Our neighbour’s horse, Sissy, has kindly been producing a big pile of manure and this has gone into the bottom of the beds. Sissy’s dung is full of earth worms which are just brilliant as each one acts like a tiny little lightweight plough helping to mix everything up into a lovely nutrient-rich soil for our veggies and fruit to grow in.
As a top dressing we’ve added recycled compost that was left over from this season’s plant raising. Then around all the beds we’ve created paths using old mypex that has come from our polytunnel floors to stop any weeds growing. We then raked over a thick covering of wood chip that Tom Tom the pipers son dropped off in a corner of our field ages ago. It looks and smells jolly nice.
We’ve just got time now to pop in some autumn veg and salad plants and the plan for these will be to create some fleeced tunnels so that we can begin harvesting in time for Christmas.
If you were keen to build your own little veg patch from scratch at home, this is a really good and affordable way to do it. You don’t have to fork out loads on materials. To make the beds, find some old bits of wood, pop down to a timber yard and see if you can get something there. Then ask a local farmer or horse owner for some manure. The thing worth spending money on is the mypex to keep weeds at bay, but it’s not massively pricy and you can cover it with old cardboard and a layer of sawdust that you can usually find quite cheaply from a local woodworker.
Out in the fields
The first signs of our Sol e Dor scented narsissi are just beginning to show themselves out in the fields now. The early daffodils are still tucked away underground but all being well they will begin to bloom just in time to be sent as beautiful home grown Christmas flowers in mid-December.
The ivy in the hedges around the farm have been producing masses of pollen over the past few weeks which the bees are happily enjoying – it could be their last treat before retreating to their hives for winter.
Back in the fruit garden, it’s the last of our raspberries at the moment which have been working brilliantly in smoothies, the recipe seems to be: as many raspberries as you can pick, a few bananas, yoghurt, milk and a quick whizz with the blender. They really don’t take long and they taste yummy.
And, finally, there have been some weird things happening out here in the Cornish countryside…Sissy (the horse who produced all of our raised bed manure) was out having a walk along the river just the other day and spotted this Pelican who’s come to Cornwall for his holidays! Can you spot it?