We’ve been producing salad leaves at Hawkwood for over a year now, in containers, but now the West Bank, our “Salad Central”, is starting to give us salads grown in the ground.
It’s one type of leaf per bed, so the range of tastes and colour is a t present quite narrow, but once we’ve got one terrace of thirty four beds dug and planted up, the diversity of leaf will become quite impressive. At Growing Communities the salad bags boast over forty species – and some sixty cultivars – over the year, plus a fine range of edible flowers – and I think that represents something of a panacea that we would like to approach.
As well as supplying our own market stall and box scheme, we’ve now got an outlet in the “local village” of North Chingford. The Deli Station are this week testing our salad bags out on their customers, as supplying Table 7 restaurant. Jo from the Deli was here on Friday and perhaps was struck, as I have been, by just how “clean” all the leaves are: the plants are not yet showing one leaf that needs “grading out” due to pest / disease / old age/ boredom.
To be honest it’s almost too perfect, but we should revel in it while we can. I know only too well that sustained cultivation in one place can have the benefit of improving soil structure, but also create great conditions for pest and disease build-up. It’s a reminder of the importance of rotating, moving around, and observing breaks. For me, that means strolling around the whole site once a week with a cup of tea. This month the tea rotation shifts from nettle to elderflower. Tastes perfect.