MONDAY 30TH MARCH
It may have seemed another world, but it was the origin of the Greenhouse's supply chain. David delivers vegetables to our café every week, and today was the inaugural site visit for our Starting From Scratch project, designed to demonstrate to our volunteers the process of food from seed to plate, and engage them in growing.
David began the day with a tour of his small farm. He has one large poly tunnel for growing herbs, and even so early in the season it was covered with seed trays and miniature plants. We admired the scents and textures of thyme and rosemary before moving to the other poly tunnel, where David grows salad leaves. The multi-coloured rainbow chard was already out in force, and the elongated and variegated leaves of a different plant caught my eye. "Try it," said David, breaking off a corner of leaf. A crisp peppery taste blossomed into a mouthfilling mustard flavour. "Chinese mustard leaf," he said, "you can sow some of those if you like."
He gave us a supervised introduction to seed sowing. We filled the trays with compost, made small indentations and put two or three herb seeds in each module. The golden rule, we learned, is not to bury the seed too deep. If the seed is 3mm long, then sow it 3mm below the surface. We sieved soil over the top, and watered them in, before leaving them on one of David's heated benches. Kept warm all day long and in the protection of the poly tunnel, the seeds should germinate rapidly.
And sure enough, David already had mini basil and parsley plants, and next he showed us how to pot these up. We watered the seedlings and pushed out the small plant, untanging the roots a little before planting them in individual pots with fresh soil. Soon Justin was scooping organic compost into pots and Mark and Lucy were planting out the herbs, whilstFrankie trimmed thyme plants to ready them for sale.
I was busy too, sowing some seeds to begin our own courtyard garden at the Greenhouse. Dill, fennel, sage, coriander and oregano should give us fresh herbs for the kitchen, whilst rocket, Chinese mustard leaf and crisp leaf lettuce will add variety and texture to our salads.
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