Saturday, 20 September 2008


For many growers this summer has not been conducive to growing the heat-loving crops such as sweetcorn, tomatoes, peppers and squash. Here on the Isles of Scilly we have had a wet summer, but perhaps not as bad as some. Our squash plants have really shot away since planting and are laden with fruit.

There are two varieties - a summer variety called Table Ace and the ever popular Butternut. The former ripen up quicker than the latter, but Butternut tend to be more popular with customer as they're more recognisable - though both are very tasty.

Now the question is "will they all ripen before they rot?!" well, the good news is the last few days have been warm and sunny, which will help them along just nicely. We've even resorted to cutting leaves above the fruit to make sure they get as much sunlight as possible.

Squash actually need quite a bit of heat, firstly to ripen, then to cure. This is so the skins thicken and they can store through the winter months. It is quite possible for squash to last well in to the spring months from the previous autumn.

In our opinion they are one of the most under-rated vegetables in Britain and are a great treat that are extremely tasty.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Mustard is a great green manure that we use to cover soil that has had one crop in, but it's not time for the next one. Bare soil is a bad practice because nutrients are leached and can lead to losses of organic matter. So by sowing a fast-growing green manure, like mustard, several functions are performed at once.

Firstly, it smothers out all the weeds - obvious benefits. Secondly, its roots go in to the soil and improve structure. Thirdly, it holds nutrients and releases them back in to the soil once its cut and cultivated back in to the soil - releasing nutrients for the next crop. Lastly, it provides a habitat for wildlife.

All green manures are good for birds and insects, but mustard is especially good for butterflies and bees. I took this photo today of a honeybee working the pollen from mustard flowers:

This is a bee from one of my hives (incidentally nearly a mile away), which means that I benefit further, from the sales of honey. All in all, green manures are a fantastic thing that should be an integral part of every growing system. And all it costs is cultivation and seed...