We have two large gardens, a field crops area and four polytunnels. We also have an orchard. We aim to grow all our own vegetables. Eating what is in the garden does mean eating in season. Of course this is easy in August, when the main problem is usually how to use the courgettes and beans fast enough. It can be more of a challenge in May, when there may be lots of sprouting broccoli and leeks but not much else. To get round this, we do lots of bottling , chutney-making and pickling in the summer so that we have plenty of interesting things to cheer up our meals during the hungry gap. All our gardens are gardened according to organic principles. We make lots of compost and use manure from the animals to keep the soil fertility high. We also sow quite a lot of our beds with green manure in the autumn-to improve fertility and soil structure and keep down the weeds in otherwise empty beds. We only use non-hybrid (open pollinated) varieties, so that we are able to save our own seeds. We grow some vegetables specifically for seed to be sold to a local seed company, Realseeds.
THE TOP GARDEN
The top garden contains annual beds, perennial beds and areas of fruit trees and bushes, herbs and edible shrubs. It is a no-dig garden and we do a lot of mulching. We share the garden with a lot of other creatures-among them toads, bats, damsel flies, slow worms and of course, slugs!
The bottom garden
grows a lot of our annual vegetables, and is a pretty traditional organic garden
based on a four year rotation; beans, followed by brassicas, then roots, then
potatoes. It is managed on a bed system, and we try to dig as little and mulch
as much as possible. We have ducks for slug control. The garden is very sheltered,
and on a south facing slope. This combined with the relatively mild Welsh coastal
climate means that providing vegetables year-round isn't too much of a challenge.
We have four polytunnels, which are fantastic both for growing tomatoes, peppers, grapes, apricots and other heat-lovers in the summer, and also for making sure that we have a good supply of salad stuff all winter. We also use them for early crops such as carrots, onions, garlic and beans.
THE FIELD CROPS AREA
In order to have year-round staples such as potatoes, onions, garlic, drying beans and peas we have two larger plots away from the gardens where we grow these crops on a larger scale. We use the tractor to plough these areas and usually organise specific work weeks for preparing, planting, maintainance and harvesting them. Being further away from the yard they are more prey to pests like the rabbits, which have recently returned, and pigeons.
We also have lots of fruit trees: apples, pears and plums which along with soft fruits such as blackcurrants and gooseberries if not eaten fresh, get made into jam, chutneys cider and lots of wine. We join our neighbours for an annual community apple day in Autumn where we press our apples into juice.
Part of the Brithdir Mawr Community website at www.brithdirmawr.co.uk