Our latest home video taken over the last few days on the farm
Sunday, 21 April 2013
No, this isn’t a blog entry about indulging in eating live oysters; this is about freshly picked “living” fruit and vegetables grown on soils rich in organic matter and abundant in life.
I used to work as a “professional” horticulturist growing vast acres of tomatoes on hydroponic systems. The plants were grown in sand and watered with solutions that contained all the necessary nutrients the plants could need. Any weeds were controlled with weed killers and a weekly spraying of pesticides would keep the plants free of any bugs. Plants produced in this sterile lifeless environment might look good but I am sure they were lacking.
|Hydroponic tomatoes in sterile lifeless conditions|
|Tomatoes growing in our vegetable garden with lots of life rich compost.|
Now I am a small scale organic grower and amongst other things I regularly mulch my vegetables. As I fork the compost around the plants I am amazed to see all the different types of life crawling around; worms, centipedes, spiders and many insects I have no idea what they are. Then there is all the life in the compost and soil that you know is there but can’t see; fungi, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes etc. All this life or “biotic mass” is present in our organic soil living in harmony with the plants and making an array of different organic compounds available to them. The soil looks so healthy and full of life, and so do our vegetables growing in it.
|Healthy vegetables in a healthy soil|
I often look with concern at salad packs with a 15 day shelf life sitting under a neon light on a supermarket shelf. The salad leafs were probably grown on a sterile soil dosed with pesticides and then packed in a bag with a modified atmosphere. Can that really be healthy eating?
Here at the
hotel I normally go to the vegetable garden about four o clock in the afternoon
and pick the vegetables from our living soil. By eight o clock our team of
cooks has prepared these vegetables into an array of delight full tasty salads
and then the first guests start to serve themselves.
|Freshly picked vegetables|
|The hotel salad buffet|
Now that’s healthy eating.
Monday, 1 April 2013
|Mange tout peas yesterday.|
|Potatoes and weeds!|
|The same potato beds a couple of hours latter just after weeding and earthing up.|
Our vegetable garden is dynamic, some crops and varieties do better than others and we try to grow the best tasting varities that are most suited to our conditions. We have been growing the standard strawberry variety Selva for some years. It produces lots of firm large red fruits but the flavour is a big disappointment. So we when we got offered some suckers from a local organic grower of the flavour full variety Albion we jumped at the offer. We over wintered the suckers in pots in the greenhouse and have now just planted them out in a new bed. In the existing strawberry beds we are interplanting with artichokes and more raspberries with the idea of removing these strawberry plants after they have fruited this season.
|The new strawberry bed just planted.|
|Artichokes interplanted in one of the old strawberry beds|
|Raspberry canes interplanted in another of the old strawberry beds|
At this time of year some crops are in their prime for harvesting and some of the best plants we select for seed production.
|A superb swede plant selected and left for seed production|
From the greenhouse we are cutting lettuce and we will soon be planting tomatoes where the lettuce are. However at this time of year the majority of the greenhouse is dedicated to producing plants for planting outdoors.
|Lettuce in the greenhouse ready for cutting|
|Pepper plants in the greenhouse house|
|Andrés repairing the compost bins|
|Three weeks ago; tree branches next to the hotel broken under the weight of the snow|
|Two weeks ago; broad beans flattened under the weight of the snow.|
|Yesterday; the broad beans fully recovered from the snow and enjoying the warm weather.|
Happy gardening and healthy eating!
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.