2021: September news – Allium Success

September 16, 2021 by General Administrator

We’ve now weighed in our onion and garlic harvests which have been a great success. Over 100kilos of cured garlic bulbs and 1.7 tonnes of onions which will see us through the coming months. This is a much better yield than last year and on par with the year before that. A lot of work went into making sure the onions were irrigated well during the drought earlier in the year so we are pleased this paid off in the end.

2021: August news – Art on the Farm

August 5, 2021 by General Administrator

The highlight of the week was being visited by artist Robin Wang who spent a day doing reportage illustration around the farm as part of her MA project. Check her out on Instagram to see her amazing work. It’s really special to have creative documentation of what we do on the farm and to know that as we were cultivating the food crops she was cultivating these drawings which she plans to use to spread the word about local sustainable food production.

Update 31st August: to view Robin’s finished ‘zine, click here.

2021: July news – The Heat is On

July 22, 2021 by General Administrator

This week we’ve been getting very sweaty on the farm – as well as staff and volunteers boiling, it’s even been to hot for our bountiful garlic crop which had been curing in a tunnel: in these high temperatures (been getting up to 40 degrees C) there’s a risk they start to turn translucent and cook as happened a few years back. So now they’re curing in the pole barn instead.

Thankfully, we’ve finished planting most of the next round of tunnel crops, with fennel, chillies, New Zealand spinach and basil taking over from potatoes, carrots and leeks.

We’re praying that the rain, which is due at the weekend, will be enough to saturate the fields as we are currently spending a lot of time irrigating the crops.

2021: June news – A Month Behind

June 3, 2021 by General Administrator

It’s been lovely to work in the sunshine this week and it has certainly given the crop growth a good surge. Here’s hoping for showers to balance it out and make our field irrigation easier.

As you’ll see when you collect your share, we have really entered the ‘harvesting gap’ (aka ‘hungry gap’) – our stored crops have done us well until now but potatoes, beets, celeriac and squash are all but over, as are our winter field crops like carrots, parsnips and leeks.

The new carrots and potatoes are looking great, but because of the unusually cold spring could be another month until harvest. In fact a lot of things on the farm are about a month delayed which is a very different story to last year when we had such a warm spring. Looking back at the last few years’ records, there is a huge disparity in the share right now: strawberries, courgettes and cucumbers were already being harvested this time last year, much to our chagrin.

2021: May news – Sunshine and Showers

May 20, 2021 by General Administrator

This week the steering group finally got to meet for the first time since last June. We enjoyed a farm tour together led by Stephen before our monthly meeting to uphold the vision and development of Canalside – it was great to meet face to face outside after many months on zoom!

May is feeling more like April with sunshine and showers so we’ve been able to make some progress in the fields. And with the increase in warmth we’ve seen some real growth in the plants, especially in the tunnels – even the most raggedy looking tomatoes are now filling out.

But to be honest, the most exciting news of the week is the arrival of our new trolley – after years of keeping homemade equipment going we decided to make small investments around the farm that will make things run smoother. We can now easily transport plants and harvested crops around the site without the wheels falling off!

The new hand trolley

Eleanor, on behalf of the growing team

Photos: Tom Ingall

2021: April news – Weather Report

April 29, 2021 by General Administrator

April has been a tough month for growers across the UK. High pressure has meant weeks with no rain – only 5mm had fallen until the rain came on Tuesday night. To put this into context, the driest April on record was 7.1mm back in 1938 and the average April rainfall in England over the last 4 yeas has been 28mm (2020), 35.4mm, 78.4mm and a very dry 2017 at 17.6mm.

It’s very unusual to have to irrigate bare land just to cultivate (prepare the land by ploughing, power harrowing etc) – let alone for establishing the first cultivations of the season – but this is what we’ve been doing the past couple of weeks. In very dry weather irrigation hoses are left to run on timers overnight but because there have also been a record number of frosts this month this wasn’t possible. A lot of time has been spent on this, as well as time each day covering and uncovering crops for protection from both the night’s frost and the heat in the day – an unusual combination.

As a consequence we are behind on many of our field plantings which have already been growing slowly because of the cold nights, and wouldn’t have survived planting out in the dry ground in these conditions. This also has a knock on for new sowings as we simply have no space in the hotbeds for them whilst the field crops are still there. This may well result in the hunger gap bei

It’s all a juggling act and has been a challenging few weeks for the team. Speaking to other growers we realise there is very little we can do other than pray the rain continues (but not too much!), the frosty nights come to an end and everything catches up. As always it is humbling to know we are really at the mercy of mother nature, who will always have the last word.

2021: March news – Cauli Surprise

March 11, 2021 by General Administrator

We decided to split our ploughing this year into two bulk lots to make it easier for the growers; an early and a late plough. Thanks to the recent dry weather we reached a major milestone for the new season this week having ploughed over half of the land, ready to prepare it for planting.

We hope you enjoyed the first of the over wintering cauliflowers this week. Cauli’s are notoriously hard to harvest – there is a very small window to catch them between being under or over ripe so Stephen had a very happy surprise to find 180 plants perfectly ready on Monday.

2021: February news – New Shoots!

February 11, 2021 by General Administrator

There are tiny signs of spring emerging with new shoots popping up around the place. It’s great to get stuck into the new season, preparing beds for planting and sowing our first seeds: early field crops like kohlrabi and celery and tunnel crops including lettuce, beets and spring onions, as well as planting seed potatoes directly into tunnel 4. The kohlrabi seeds win the prize for showing themselves first – always a little miracle that life wants to grow and a sign that spring is not too far away now.

Words from Work Mornings

February 4, 2021 by General Administrator

Whilst there is much uncertainty in the world, the popularity of CSAs has shown that local food production is an essential, safe and reliable service. We’ve seen a great turnout at our work mornings in the last year, and perhaps due to lockdown are again seeing a boom in people coming to help out. As volunteering work is still allowed, we find jobs where we can space out or work in household bubbles. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get outside and be together in a safe way, working towards a common goal at a time when there is so much separation.

Here’s what our workshares and volunteers have to say:

‘I love the welcome and camaraderie, it’s amazing how much we get done when we work together, this is a unique place’ – Clare (volunteer workshare)

‘It’s the highlight of our week’ – Christine and Dave (veg members and volunteers)

“A workshare at Canalside ticks so many boxes, providing exercise, fresh air, vitamin D and purposeful companionship in a relatively safe, outdoor environment.’ – Zoe (volunteer workshare)

If you’d like to read more from Zoe you can read her blog about joining Canalside here.

2021: January news – Would you rather…?

January 28, 2021 by General Administrator

Well the farm turned into Narnia earlier this week and reminded us how lucky we are to be in this space, bringing a moment of beauty and peace that only a snow scape can – see photos! Alas, it quickly returned back to the familiar mud bath. Harvesting crops in hard frost and snow is always an interesting experience and the team seem to spend a lot of time at the moment playing ‘would you rather’: ice and snow, pouring rain or searing heat. Outcome TBA.

British weather issues aside – we’re turning our attention to spring planting, taking away our old ground covers ready to muck spread for the new crops.

A big ‘thank you’ to our workshares and volunteers turning out on Wednesdays and Saturdays, helping get lots of big jobs done and site maintenance – you’re very much appreciated. 

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