Monday, 9 July 2018

Summer heat

This summer weather has been fantastic for tourism. Blue skies, hot sun, beaches well used and lots of swimming. Not to mention some truly fantastic sunsets...

The flip side however is that for farmers and growers trying to grow crops and/or raise livestock, this extended hot spell has been very difficult. I don't remember a time when the heat continued for so long, nor an extended period without rain. We have had next to no rain for at least 2 months, and very little over 3 months. 

This has made growing crops like salad very challenging, and required many sessions of evening watering using a very unsophisticated system. Normally we plant out, water, then water again 3 days later...and that's it for the whole growing life of the crop.

This year it's been plant out, then water every 2-3 days or so for at least 2 weeks, and then give every leafy plant (yes, every one) some water at least once a week, but usually twice. 

As you can imagine this is a big demand on our time and requires several late sessions, but there's not really much choice if we want to keep the crops alive! 

So there we go, two tales of summer heat - one from the tourist and one from the grower. Any compromise possible to keep everyone happy? Perhaps half an inch of rain overnight followed by some sun...?!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Veg stall

Our veg stall at the top of Middle Town hill is now being stocked up three times a week - Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at midday. It's full of fresh new crops, including our well known salad leaves mix, beautiful earthy new potatoes, cracking kale and chard, and succulent New Zealand spinach.

Soon we'll be moving on to stocking up every day, and offering more crops as they come on.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Spring gets underway properly

The shift in weather patterns has led to spring looking like it's here to stay! You cam always tell when the shift has happened because wild spring flowers come out properly, like these lovely celandines.

...and this blackthorn

Meanwhile in the glasshouse the seedlings are responding to increased light levels and warmth. Not long until these are ready to plant out. Better late than never!


Friday, 23 March 2018

Assistant grower summer 2018

Applications for this post have now closed 

Assistant grower wanted for organic market garden in summer 2018

Scilly Organics is a small organic market garden on the Isles of Scilly, growing a range of vegetables, herbs and fruit that is sold locally, and we specialise in mixed salads. The business has been running since 2003 and has always been certified organic.

This is an opportunity to gain direct experience of growing a wide range of fruit, vegetables, herbs and salads on the beautiful island of St Martin’s in the Isles of Scilly. You will gain both growing and business experience, and be given considerable responsibility. This is an ideal post for a grower with experience who wants to take a step up to management or starting their own business.

We are looking to take on an assistant grower for two to four months from June 2018, working with us in our small team. We are looking for someone who has:
  • At least six months’ experience of growing organic vegetables commercially
  • Is highly motivated
  • Can take responsibility for day to day operations
  • Is keen to learn new skills and approaches
  • A driving licence and some tractor driving experience

Working hours are 4 ½ days per week, accommodation is provided, and free vegetables are available from the farm. Work contract length is negotiable depending on your availability and commitments. We are offering this post at a late stage in the season due to a previously arranged assistant grower having change their plans at short notice.

To apply for the position please send a CV, and a covering letter to include description of relevant experience, your motivation for applying and anything else relevant.

Applications, and enquiries for more detailed information, should be emailed to Jonathan Smith Deadline for application is midnight on 8th April 2018.
The role is paid; please contact me for details and for full terms and conditions, as well as any questions you might have.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

It snowed - again!

Snow on Scilly is a rare event. The last I can remember before this year was 2009. But now it's snowed twice within three weeks! Apparently an old boy in his 80's, who's lived here all his life, has said he can never remember two lots of snow in one winter. Climate change?

Anyway, for the sheer joy of Scilly in the snow here are some photos from this morning of snow and sunshine. By this afternoon it had nearly all gone...

Snow on caulis isn't a common problem we have selling on the veg stall!

Settling on elm trees, which should be ready to burst in to leaf in a week or two...

The track along Lawrences

Lawrences beach

Mr Snowman in front of the tunnel

The strange effect of snow slipping off a polytunnel

A downside of having guttering on tunnels - that took a lot of work getting the snow out!

Fields at Lawrences looking pretty

Believe it or not there are spuds under there. Fortunately none have shot up above ground level yet...

Above Great Bay

Monday, 19 February 2018

The growing season has kicked off

Mid February marks the proper start of the growing season for us. The
winter jobs are coming to an end and plant growth is starting to pick up.

Today I cultivated in some seaweed ready for early spud planting later
this week. In the glasshouse we've been sowing seeds for a month and now
have some nice little plants coming on. The first salads will go in to
the polytunnel, planting out next month for cropping in April. The next
lot will be planted outdoors for harvest in May.

Today felt like the first day of spring, it was so warm and quiet. There
will be some wintry weather to come yet for sure, but it  certainly felt
like a turning point.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

In praise of Pittosporum

A good proportion of our hedges on Scilly are Pittosporum angustifolia, which are very hardy evergreens originally from New Zealand. They are drought tolerant, salt resistant, and withstand high winds - all characteristics which make them flourish on Scilly. 

The hedges are equally as good at 6ft high as they are at 20ft plus, like this one on the farm. They can be cut annually or left for 3 or 4 years before a cut again. 

The flowers appear early in the year, from now until April; generally they are a lovely deep red but occasionally white. On a mild and still spring evening the scent is deep, heady and quite intoxicating!

They go on to produce seemingly thousands of seed pods per plant, opening up from summer through to winter. This results in often a proliferation of young plants below the hedges. These are quite easy to dig up and transplant to a new site if you want a new or replacement hedge.

The cuttings can be used for animal feed, or can be processed through a woodchipper to make good woodchips. Lastly, bigger pieces make very good firewood which burns very hot due to the high sap content.

Without these amazing plants we'd certainly find growing quite a challenge down here!