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.

Monday 24 August 2020

Fruiting for four

 I don't mind admitting that I am a bit of a fruit addict, so you could say I am very much in the right job. However looking back this year to the time when the country went into a bit of a blind panic and we entered into lock down, Melv and I were thinking about ways to extend the fruit season to keep my addiction fed without having to frequent the supermarket. 

One idea was to use blue water barrels for our strawberries, for which we had everything we needed, (the barrels originally bought for the aquaponics, currently on the back burner), homemade compost and the strawberry plants from last year.

All we needed was a few hours to get them filled up, which took no time a at all, and after just a few weeks we were rewarded with the first flowers and small fruits.

These turned into be a great success and at the beginning of May - the 2nd, I harvested our first strawberry. Well now nearly 5 months on I can honestly say I have had strawberries for lunch every day - provided from 4 barrels of assorted varieties. Even now the berries are to be admired and taste delicious.

And more to the point the plants are still producing and there is still more to come.
Through the season, my lunch fruit bowl hasn't just been filled with strawberries, it has had black currants and red currants for company...
However, the other stars of the fruit assemblage have to be the raspberries, like the strawberries they have a long fruiting season. We have a number of different varieties that helps to extend this, for example the Tulameen fruit early...
Compared to the latest fruiting variety that we have - given to us by a friend and of an unknown type - but very tasty and very productive.
We also have a rather special variety, popular with The Sheppey Inn, as a way to introduce a bit of intrigue and surprise to their desert menu - the All Gold.
And the added bonus is that unlike many quirky fruit and vegetables we have tried to grow, they not only look good to help satisfy my lunchtime addiction, they also taste really good - what a treat.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Harvesting heaven

One of the most pleasurable job for anyone that grows their own produce has to be the harvesting, whether it be picking soft fruits or plucking off beans and tomatoes. However there are two types of produce that we grow that are very special from a harvesting perspective - those that hide in the ground - these of course are artichokes and potatoes. Last November we were treated to some beautiful Jerusalem artichokes, with tubers in abundance.
However now this year, we are very excited that it is time for the potatoes. Back in May we planted both Jersey Royals and Pink Fir Apples - Jersey Royals a well known new potato which have a texture which is firm and waxy with a nutty, sweet, earthy flavour, compared to the Pink Fir Apples which are one of the oldest maincrop varieties still in use today, loved for its buttery waxy texture and nutty 'new potato' flavour. 

No one can deny that it has not been a normal year, for us this was both in the form of the pandemic, but also herbicide contamination, which meant for a number of weeks we were searching for clarity and seeking the most appropriate, relevant and achievable direction. As a result, unfortunately we were late with some of our planting dates, and the spuds were no exception. We knew this was the case, but at the time we felt it was worth the risk, and as we begin the reap the rewards of our efforts - we are finding that it was. Although 35% have turned out a little unusual the remainder are stunning.

Unfortunately in addition to a late planting date, due to the damp weather the haulm of both varieties have got blight.  Blight is a disease caused by a fungus-like organism that spreads rapidly in the foliage and tubers or fruit of potatoes in wet weather, causing collapse and decay. It is a serious disease for potatoes which quickly spreads to the tubers. But all that said, as we start to dig up our hidden treasures we have been both pleased and surprised at the results. Unfortunately although the Jersey Royals have been affected by the bizarre year and are certainly not new potatoes good enough for sale, they are however a lovely large floury potato that have turned out to be beautiful for roasting, mash and chips. Their floury nature means that they produce the best crispy chips and roasted spuds that we have ever tasted.

However the Pink Fir Apples, they are a completely different story, and an amazing success, they are absolutely superb, we have caught the blight well in time, removed all the haulms and are now in full harvest mode.
They are certainly an odd looking potato, long and 'knobbly', but they are the most exquisite tasting waxy spud you will every try.
You can't be put you off by their appearance, as they are delicious boiled in their skin, which you can peel off or eat, lovely hot or cold, boiled or roasted. The plants harvested were all very productive and each 12m row has been producing at least 25kg of crop, with more expected in the rows in the second half of the planting areas. 
Already popular with our village customers, together with the Old Tannery Glastonbury, for the first time the Sheppey Inn are serving them as part of their Sunday roast, (and they are amazing roasted!) accompanied by our fine green beans and black cabbage - you certainly can't get more local - lovely.

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...