Saturday, 12 February 2011

Preparing the Vegetables

The greenhouse full of vegetable seedlings and plants.

Come April and we will open the hotel and the restaurant once again. That will mean lots of evening meals to prepare and lots of vegetables to pick clean and cook. Although we open in April, for our guests to be able to enjoy our freshly grown vegetables a lot of work and planning starts many months earlier in the greenhouse and on the vegetable plot.

"Cebolleta" or sweet onions, planted in October to be ready for the first guests in April

At this time of year we are particularly busy sowing and producing plants ready to plant out as soon as the danger of cold weather has passed away. We built the greenhouse last year with the idea that we could start sowing earlier, raise the plants in the protection of the greenhouse and produce larger plants which would come in to cropping sooner when planted outside.

Lettuce growing in the greehouse as well as strawberry plants

Now the greenhouse is bursting at the seams with small plants and seed trays as many different seeds start their cycle of life. Tomatoes, peppers and aubergines are some of the plants which take the longest to produce, sown in January they spend three month in the warmth of the greenhouse before planted out in late April. Other plants have a much shorter cycle such as lettuce, cabbages and spinach and these are ready to plant out in less than a month from sowing.

Lettuce planted outside in cloches for an even earlier harvest.

Oats growing in different vegetable plots as an overwinter cover crop.

This year we have also sown our midwinter sowing of mangetout and broad beans in the greenhouse. In previous years we have made all the sowings outside starting in mid October and finishing in mid February. However most years any peas and beans sown outside in mid winter soon get found by the mice which eat the seeds before they get a chance to germinate. So this year with the mice defeated we hope to be picking mangetout and broad beans for an even longer season

First flowers on the broad beans sown in October outside

Mangetout from an early November sowing starting to climb up their suports (hazzle twigs.)

It’s not just sowing and planting which has to be done at this time of year, the vegetable beds themselves have to be prepared. Many will have been sown with a ground cover crop of oats in the autumn so as to protect and nurture the soil over the winter months and prevent the valuable nutrients being leached from the soil by the winter rain. Before planting the beds the oats have to be pulled out by hand (and composted) leaving a lovely friable soil full of life. Other jobs include turning the compost, as well as weeding and mulching beds

Turning the compost.

Yes it certainly takes a lot of work to try and produce a steady supply of home grown vegetables for the hotel but it’s very rewarding seeing everything grow and in such a natural way in harmony with nature. Its also very rewarding seeing all the lovely food in the hotel restaurant prepared from these home grown vegetables and as for it eating it hmmmm.

1 comment:

Ian said...

That looks great and very productive. Tidy as well (for the time being!)

Welcome

Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.