Today I get to the site at 9 rather than my usual 10am start. This change to my schedule is a result of a post-work drink at the pub last week ( = read 6-week debrief session ). Arriving at 10am is great as far as late starts to the day go but I had begun to feel that I was missing out on something…Ru always arrives earlier so when I get there he has already mapped out the day, figured out what needs doing, what’s to be planted, what watered, what quantities will be harvested and how to carve up the tasks. So by the time I get there the list is already written into the book. Basically, as an apprentice, I wasn’t getting the full experience! So, I drag myself out of bed and onto my bike an hour earlier. And wow, it really makes a difference.
Carrying a cup of steaming rooibosch tea, we walk around the site and look at the week’s growth. Lots of planting to be done today – two whole beds need lettuces planted. Also the spring garlic bed, which had been harvested a good two, three weeks ago, is sitting empty so could do with some bulking up on the compost front and planting up. Only a few of the beds need watering along with those in the greenhouse. And Ru has brought some lovely Cape Gooseberries over from the Springfield site to trial at Allens Gardens. Also loads of weeding is needed, especially right up next to the plants where the hoe can’t get to – the plants are put in a plank’s width apart which enables us to hoe between the rows. They are so cheeky those weeds, they grow right within the salad leaves we plant, vying for all those precious nutrients.
Only a few specific tasks today but all quite labour intensive so we get stuck in quickly. Ann-Marie arrives and works on one of the longer beds, I take the other and Ru alternates between the two. He really storms ahead on the planting up bit – leaving me way behind! I guess it’s just knowing how much vigour the young seedlings can take. They are grown in trays with each one in its own little section ( = plug ), so you have to push the plant out from a hole in the bottom. The soil often falls away especially if the stick you use is too thin, it’s so easy to push them up unevenly. And once you’ve got it out of the plug, you have to be careful not to pick it up from the stalk. This is because they are so fragile that they might snap. If they do, then you kill the whole plant. So, always hold the seedlings by the root structure or by the leaves. When you aren’t so used to doing this it means you take quite a while to plant a whole bed – no bad thing if you want healthy plants but just very time consuming. You’ll be pleased to know, though, that I am quickly gaining confidence – you would too if you planted up over 50 lettuces / plants each week!
With all the planting, lunch arrives quickly, despite the extra hour on the day, and with it comes Precious. We sit out in the sun and eat fresh leaves (as well as our home-made lunches, of course). Such fine weather that I am beginning to feel sun-kissed on my bare shoulders. My prayers for a dry day delightfully answered.
A pleasing plate of leaves, picked there and then for lunch. Can get no fresher!
The afternoon sees yet more planting. Precious and I share the garlic bed and the support workers and a friend of Ru’s come to do the harvesting. By four o’clock when it is time to head over to Springfield I have a fine sense of achievement – everything we had planned to do in the morning has been ticked off. Early start next week then? For sure!
Grower: 1 | Apprentices: 1 | Volunteers: 3 | Support workers: 2 | Helpful friend: 1 | Dogs: 1 | Fox: 0
Harvested from the site…
Salad greens & edible flowers: 15kg | Rhubarb: 2.8kg | Mint: 60g