Seasonality or eating fruit and vegetables within the season that we can grow them here in the UK is something that many people have lost touch with. Go into any Supermarket and the shelves are full with whatever you want. Strawberries in January, no problem, Courgettes in March, no problem.
Well there is a problem actually, air miles, carbon footprint and global warming. I am not going to debate those things here, if you don’t believe they exist then you probably haven’t read this far anyway.
I get asked strange questions about this kind of thing all the time; ‘do you have any courgettes ready yet,’ in April? Questions like that seem strange to me because I know we cannot grow them then, but it just underlines the fact that people are so disconnected from how things grow in our country. Walk through a supermarket and it’s no surprise.
So, what is our growing season and when can people expect to buy vegetables from us? This of course depends on the vegetable, the weather, the temperatures and daylight length it will tolerate.
We can be clever and conspire against nature by using the tools of season extension to stretch the growing season a little at both ends. Earlier crops in Spring and later crops in Winter.
Nature still has a hand to play, but you can get a much longer growing season if you have the equipment and the resources to pay for artificial heating and lighting.
Large commercial growers take advantage of such technology, but it still has an environmental cost. Is this more destructive than flying crops half way across the globe?
For us at Burscough Community Farm, season extension means;
- Electrically heated propagators
- Crop covering fleece
- Poly tunnels
By using these things we can get our crops started earlier than nature intended. We can get them growing earlier in the field and even grow things into and through the winter.
I was asked the other day ‘what is your growing season?’ I must be honest, it is difficult to know with any certainty. So much depends on the weather. Now we have our new, larger poly tunnel, we have been given new opportunities that I haven’t yet explored.
Over the last four growing seasons we have officially started the veg shares in mid to late June, generally when the first potatoes are ready. Now we do have the potential to grow some potatoes in the poly tunnel which would bring things on earlier. The poly tunnel also gives us the opportunity to grow some salad crops right into the winter, something that we have never done before.
The idea of waiting to launch the veg share until the potatoes are ready to sell is simply because I feel that the veg box/share should be reasonably substantial before we launch it. We don’t want you to be disappointed.
In reality, some crops come ready before the potatoes, so we could offer a smaller box much earlier. Would this be of interest to you?
Please let me know what you think.