Godney Aquaponics

Godney Aquaponics
In the village of Godney, with the beautiful back drop of the Glastonbury Tor, Melv and Sal are embarking on a new venture. Fed up with the poor quality of veg in the shops, they have the ambition to set up an aquaponics system to provide fresh vegetables and salad crops for the village, and with a little help from their hens a supply of fresh free range eggs too.

What is Aquaponics??

What is Aquaponics??
Aquaponics is a sustainable method of producing quality food with minimal external inputs. It is a system that combines conventional aquaculture (e.g. fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Water from the aquaculture system is fed to the hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down and are utilised by the plants as nutrients, and the water is then re-circulated back to the aquaculture system.

Thursday 25 July 2019

Top tomatoes

Our tomatoes are really coming into their own now and are being enjoyed by local people and businesses alike.

The large Brandy Wine and the contrasting Green Agate (either side) melt in your month and taste so perfectly ripe they are incredible.

As the Brandy Wine continue to ripen, so to do the Red Tiger, (bottom right), which look beautiful on a plate.

The Brandy Wine is also accompanied by Bumblebee Mix...

and to accompany the Blush Tiger...

is the Green Tiger...

 Overall a beautiful selection

Monday 22 July 2019

Crazy courgettes

Courgettes are magnificent plants, with rampant green foliage, covered in prickly hairs.

However I often think that courgettes are a really under rated vegetable, I think this might be that when ever you see them in the shops they are the standard dark green uninspiring variety. 

Not that there is anything wrong with dark green courgettes, but I would like to introduce you to another world of varieties that are of all shapes, sizes and colours. 

To immediately add a bit of colour there are the traditional shaped varieties that are bright yellow such as Gold Rush

or the stripy Coucourzelle, which is a variety which combines the two colours which produces slim straight fruits of excellent nutty flavour.

Keeping with the stripes we are growing the Piccolo, an attractive 'tennis ball' size round striped green courgette, which not only look good but have excellent flavour.

Very similar is the Eclipse, slightly paler and a little more defined, with rounder fruits, which if picked small can be eaten raw. Larger fruits are perfect for barbeque kebabs or brilliant for stuffing.

Staying with barbeque beauties, the Griller's mix variety have been bred exactly for that, which produces fruits which are less water, firmer fleshed and oval. This variety grow in three colours, a pale glaucous green, as well as striking golden yellow and a deep dark green.

However for shape the title of the best has to go to the Patty Pan, a little like a flying saucer, this unusual variety is small in size, has a round and shallow shape with scalloped edges, somewhat resembling a small toy top. The name 'patty pan' apparently derives from 'a pan for baking a patty'. They have a very mild taste, with a buttery texture and clean, squash flavour.

Staying on the yellow theme, the Summer Holiday has to be the favourite, with stripes and all!!  Producing rounded fruits about the size of a tennis ball, with not just amazing looking little fruits, but ones which have a great flavour and texture, superb for stuffing and baking.

All in all a rather special collection and one which surely dispels the misconception of a under rated vegetable.

Oh and of course the icing on the cake is the flowers, which in some restaurants are more popular than the fruits themselves even more reason to applaud what is really an rather amazing little vegetable.

Monday 15 July 2019

Time for tomatoes

One of the wonderful things about this time of year has got to be ripening tomatoes and this year we have decided to try to grow a number of different varieties and I am excited to say they are just starting to display their beautiful shapes and colours as the sun begins to turn the fruits, and already we are starting to get a rather interesting selection...

From the well known Gardeners Delight, a cherry tomato which everyone knows and loves.

To the other end of the size spectrum, the large Brandy Wine, which are beginning to display a beautiful rosy tinge. 

One of the best tasting heirloom tomatoes, with an incredible rich and intense flavour, with fruits that bulge out of their skin and can grow up to 2 pounds in weight.

Then there are the very unusual coloured varieties, like this Indigo Pear Drop, the purple colour is due to a high anthocyanin content, the naturally occurring antioxidant found in blueberries, now known to be so important for our daily health.

As it ripens the fruits start to turn yellow, resulting in this cocktail pear-shaped tomato becoming a rich golden yellow with purple shoulders.

Then there is the Green Agate a green tomato which develops golden stripes. This medium-sized tomato is luscious and tender which has a tasty thick green flesh which is superb for slicing and salads.

There are those with  beautiful colours but also curious shapes, like the Indigo Rose, which is a true superfood with high levels of vitamins and antioxidants. They are delicious raw, or even better cooked when they take on a smoky barbeque flavour.

And there are those varieties with a mix of the two, the Green Tiger, which has pointed plum shaped fruits, which are yellow-olive streaked with an emerald green skin and flesh. They have a bright, sweet and tangy taste and an excellent addition to any salad.

All in all a rather nice collection and one which is going to increase and just get better and better as the sun continues to shine

We wait and watch for the fruits of Firecracker, Dolcevita and Indigo Kumquat, just to name a few - which I am sure will form a much deserved focus of a future blog.

Wednesday 10 July 2019

The productive polytunnel

There is no getting away from it the polytunnel creates a microclimate of its own and it certainly is a very productive place. It doesn't seem long ago that we were removing the winter plants, such as the black cabbage and chard that had sustained the village in greens over the winter and started to prepared the beds for the new season.

Next it was planning what to plant where and we then methodically worked on placing stakes and strings to support the individual requirements of the different plants.

 Stakes for the aubergines and chillies

 and strings for the tomatoes

We have used bubble wrap on the beds that are home to really heat loving varieties such as peppers, chillies and aubergines, to keep the soil warm and try to cut down on watering a little.

 To maximise the space we have invested in some large planters that can be placed around the side of the tunnel particularly good for growing melons and cucumbers that can be supported via the frame.

However without this photographic record looking in the tunnel now it is hard to remember how sparse it looked just a few months ago, as now it is a riot of green growth

From fennel to cucumbers...

Peppers to sweetcorn...

A tunnel of melons...

And a eclectic mix of courgettes, asparagus, aubergines, agretti and red orach, a jungle of rich ingredients.

Monday 8 July 2019

Its time for garlic

Produce that grows below the ground, like Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, potatoes and of course garlic always generate that feeling of expectation and excitement as you never quite know what lies beneath the soil!!

Well this time of year is garlic time and this week ours was ready to be pulled. Garlic can always be a little misleading as on the surface the remaining leafy grow looks tired, dead and spent. As I put my fork in the ground I didn't expect to reveal any significant bulbs at all, as the plants had had know care or attention at all, but much to my delight this is what I found...

The biggest garlic bulbs we have ever grown!! Perfect white bulbs with bulbous cloves - just amazing and there wasn't just one there was 100% success rate...

All the bulbs were the same and it was hard to find a small one amongst them - almost the size of a plastic plant label across, I gave them pride of place in the polytunnel to dry.

Just can't wait to try them! :o)

Home grown

Now normally with our horticultural hats on when we talk about home grown we are refering to vegetables. But for the first time since we hav...