Winter is Back

We were jolted back into winter again with hail the size of dried peas down the back of the neck this morning. Most things we have planted so far wont’t be affected by this and should be fine.

The Kohl Rabi we sowed last week has germinated well and is nearly ready to transplant on to the next stage in the larger soil blocks. The Greenhouse Sensation Vitapod propagators are doing an amazing job and we are really starting to churn out seedlings with the help of this brilliant device.

Not everything needs a propagator to start germinating, these beetroot (below) have managed just fine by being covered by black plastic until they just started to break the surface. This kept the moisture in and helped warm the compost on days that the sun did shine. To be fare though, it was much warmer in the glasshouse last week when they did germinate than it is today.

Some more wintery pictures from this morning.

Farm In A Box

Greenslate Seeds 2017

I always find this time of year especially exciting when all the seeds you have finally chosen make it through the mail.

I still cannot get my head around how the contents of those packets will fill the field over the next few months and go on to fill our bellies. It is a ‘farm in a box’ with so much potential spilled out across the table.

Let’s hope the weather is in our favour and we can fill the shop and cafe with wonderful produce that will put Greenslate on the map.

If you want to get involved it turning these seeds into food and learning how we are going to do it, check out the Volunteering page.

Stale Seedbed and Lettuce Transplants

Running the irrigation on the Poly Tunnel beds the other day has yielded a few weed seedlings which is what we want, to try and get the beds as weed free as possible before we do any direct sowing. Expect more info on stale seedbed techniques soon.

The lettuce seeds that we germinated in the propagator have now grown big enough to transplant into the two inch blocks. I am really pleased with the germination rate and how they have come on.

Feeling Warmer

Greenslate has been a cold place to work so far, but today that trend changed. It had the feeling of a spring day with birds singing away in the hedgerows.

I finished off planting out a garlic bed that Roger and I started the other day and felt so carried away with the warmth that I went on to sow a couple of rows of broad beans. The soil was dry enough to work up a nice tilth.

The poly tunnel reached 15°C so I started to water the very dry beds to see if there are any weeds that want to germinate before we get sowing and planting.

I realise it won’t last but today felt really great and I cannot wait to get into spring proper when it does come.

Garlic Planting

It’s not too late to put some garlic in the ground so I thought that we would add to our stock today. So, hopefully by July we should have plenty for the shop and perhaps the cafe can serve Billinge Garlic Bread as a speciality.

Roger got a picture of me doing a bit of work just to prove that I do some. The peril of taking the pictures is that I am rarely on any and it looks like I make all the volunteers do all the work.


One Month In

My first month as Greenslate Grower has ended and I have really enjoyed it. The team working on the farm have been very welcoming and have given me a free hand to get the crop growing operation started.

What’s happening on the farm is inspirational, I feel that this small scale community growing project has come of age and is making a huge difference in many peoples lives.

Let’s face it, there is lots of worrying stuff going on in the world at the moment that can leave you feeling helpless, cast adrift on a stormy sea of uncertainty. Well there is one thing that we all can do, reach out to our community and make sure that our own part of the world hasn’t forgotten what humanity is all about.

The Long Term Plan

I see my mission at Greenslate to be very much in line with its ‘Transitional’ roots of providing local food to the local community and bringing money into the local economy rather than spreading it to national and international corporations; ambitious plans indeed.

For me, success in the first year will be to get the café and farm shop stocked with fresh produce grown on site. Forget food miles, think food yards (or metres if you prefer).

On a practical level, much of the work so far has been planning the creation of a one acre market garden. It is an exciting process and I feel incredibly lucky to be given this opportunity. At the same time, it feels a little scary as there is so much to be done.

Roger Buckner trialled some growing on the farm last year with some success and we will build on that this season.

The soil is much sandier here that I would have thought but it seems to have a good balance between sand, silt and clay. The samples that I have looked at seem low in organic matter but this can be worked on. A pH of 6.5 is also a good place to be starting for growing the wide range of crops that we need.

At the moment we are sowing onions and we will soon be starting our tomatoes.

If you want to get updates about the growing on Greenslate Farm you can subscribe to our blog and hear the latest news as soon as it hits the web site. Just leave your email address in the panel on the right and click the subscribe button.

First Seeds Germinating

This is a bit of a ‘moment’ for me, the first germinating seeds for this season at Greenslate. We are trying onions in seed blocks and they are bobbing their heads up a week after sowing.

Have you done a jam jar soil test?The soil at Greenslate contains more sand than I expected with nearly 50% content in this sample that I took from the market garden area.