Spring is here!

I love the feeling I get when winter is ending and there is that spring feeling in the air. We are franticly getting seed in, cleaning up the farm ready for spring plantings of cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers amongst all the other seasonal vegetables we grow. We know at the markets that people are wanting to get into there gardens but they’re just not quite ready so we need to make sure we are on the ball and we have plenty of plants available for when the madness starts.

We could really do with some more warmer days though as some veges haven’t grown quick enough and are starting to get that yellow look too them. The baby spinach particularly! No matter how hard we try we just can’t grow enough of it during winter. We just have to be patient and wait for that spring growth. We try and explain this to our customers as best we can and fortunately we are lucky enough that they are very patient and understanding about what we do. We work with the seasons, we don’t like to force growth through heated greenhouses and LED lights.

For the last month or so I have been flicking through previous year’s diaries looking at what has worked and what hasn’t. Last year we went a bit crazy with the flower seedlings. This was a lot of fun but we found that customers were more into growing vegetables. So this year we have decided to focus more on the flowers that are companion plants. Flowers that attract beneficial insects such as bees and also flowers that attract the naughty insects such as thrips and aphids, keeping them off your vegetables.

I also look at how we can improve our systems so that we can manage time better and be more efficient. Making sure anything we put our hands on, we know it will be worthwhile. If not, then we have to bite the bullet and stop. This can be really hard especially as we all love what we do and we are very passionate, so cutting something out is not an easy decision but we have to remember that this is a business and we need look after it. For example, last year we grew a lot of cucumbers but we had terrible trouble with pukeko birds eating them, so this year we are growing a very token amount so that we can keep it manageable.

Something we grew this winter which I have been really impressed with is the purple stemmed broccoli. Gosh this is a wonderful plant. Beautiful long tender stems with a deep purple floret. They have been brightening people’s meals all winter. We are also growing miniature purple and green cabbages. These are small compared to the giant ones you get in the supermarket’s but they are solid heavy little things. They have been extremely popular at the markets as they are a more usable size (what on earth are you supposed to do with a basketball sized cabbage??). They’re wonderful keepers as well, i found one at the back of my fridge after about 3 weeks and it still looked perfectly fine, nutritional value might have depleted a bit though!!

It is hard to believe we will be selling tomato plants again soon. We already have a token amount of cucumber, courgette and bean plants for sale for those who have greenhouses.

I am really looking forward to what this season is going to bring us. Will it be as challenging as the last? No two seasons are the same so yes it will be. That’s what keeps us on our toes! Not only does the weather have a big role to play but the market trends change with every season too and I am looking forward to what they will be this year. I just hope that I will be quick enough to adapt to these ever changing trends. Can’t wait!!

What to plant now: lettuces, beetroot, spinach, spring onions, leeks, fennel, peas, mesclun, rocket. Coriander, parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano, chives.
Plants coming in the next few months: TOMATOES! BASIL! Beans, zucchinis, cucumbers, chillis, capsicums, sweetcorn, pumpkins.

Come and visit us every Saturday and Sunday at the markets for our full range of seasonal vegetable and herb plants all ready to go for planting in your garden. Please feel free to ask us any questions, we love helping out!

Thank you for reading,
Liz

Weekend markets
Every Saturday:
Howick market 8am-12.30pm
Britomart market 8am-12.30pm
Mt Albert market 9am-1pm
Mairangi Bay pop up stall behind the green gables 8am-11.30am
And also the Clevedon Village Farmers market every Sunday 8am-1pm.

We also sell at our farm gate at 355 McNicol Road, Clevedon.