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Grow-How

Regular expert advice from Fruit Hill Farm on organic growing.
  • What does Organic mean?

    Organic food is food produced by methods that comply with the Standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming in general features practices that strive to cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organic Growers do not use any chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides on the crops they grow.  Neither do they use Genetically Modified seed. The emphasis is on working with nature to produce a healthy soil environment through the addition of natural inputs (for example seaweed) and green manures.
  • Propagation

    If you want to get you seeds off to an early start you will need to create a nice warm and protected environment.  There are 4 ways of doing this - soil warming cable, heated propagator, heating mat, hot press. Soil warming cable   Soil warming cable. Early propagation requires a consistent soil temperature of 12ºC to 16ºC. Germination and root development are very slow below these temperature levels. If you have a large area to heat up then a soil warming cable is ideal.  The cables are ready to use and can be plugged into a thermostat for complete temperature
  • How to grow Potatoes

    What to plant Earlies:   Very good if you only have a small area. As they are lifted earlier, they are less likely to encounter problems such as wireworms, slugs and blight. Earlies are ready 15 - 16 weeks after planting in March onward.  Only plant when the conditions are right - be patient! Second Earlies:   Second Earlies take 16-17 weeks to mature after planting in April Maincrops:   Maincrops take 18-20 weeks to mature after planting in mid-April onwards. These take up the most space in the garden, but they are the best varieties to store.  They also
  • What are Green Manures?

    Green Manures, also referred to as fertility building crops, may be broadly defined as crops grown for the benefit of the soil. A wide range of plant species can be used as green manures. Different ones bring different benefits. If the most is to be made from green manure crops it is important that they are carefully integrated into the crop rotation and proper attention paid to their cultivation. Advantages -  Increased biological activity  Improved soil structure and drainage  Reduced erosion and leaching  Increased supply of nutrients available to plants
  • Chitting Potatoes

    What does chitting mean? Chitting is basically another word for sprouting. By exposing the seed potato to light and a small bit of warmth you are encouraging growth.  The eyes of the potato will start sprouting - the sprouts should be small, knobbly, and green/purple in colour. If you end up with long, white coloured sprouts, it means there’s not enough light. Why do you chit potatoes? By getting the potato to sprout you have started off the growing process so that the plants will have a head start when you put them in the soil.  In theory you will then get your
  • Cleaning your greenhouse or polytunnel: equipment and methods

    Cleaning the polytunnel and your pots Not the most popular of tasks but one that must be faced to avoid pests and diseases later.  All plant pots, seed trays, propagation trays and tools should be well and truly cleaned.  Don’t brush over this advice because you think they are going to “get dirty” anyway.  Pots that are dirty can contain pests, bacteria, and fungus that can harm your plants before they even get started.  Same is true for your glasshouse or polytunnel.  As well as letting in extra light you will get rid of all the overwintering red spider
  • Attracting Wildlife in the Garden

    Provide as many habitats as possible and make the most of the ones you have Lawns Lawns provide a home for many insects that are eaten by birds and other wildlife. You can improve your lawn for wildlife by simply avoiding the use of weed killers and artificial fertilizers. Providing areas of grass of different heights, which are cut at different times of the year, optimises food potential. Grow clover in your lawn. Clovers are of great value to bees, which will pollinate your plants, as a source of nectar. Hedges Consider a hedge rather than a fence. For every foot of
  • Sowing seeds indoors

    Growing from seed is a simple and economical way of raising a whole host of plants for your garden. Sowing in a heated environment allows you to raise plants from seed in early spring - much earlier than if sowing directly outside. What you will need Klasmann Organic Compost - the very best compost you can buy. Quality seed compost.  Seed compost has a fine particle size and is not as rich as potting  compost.  It is ideal for sowing seeds.  We sell Klasmann Organic composts, for more information please see our blog post. Quick Pot trays come in a variety of
  • Taking a soil sample

      Beneficial results of a soil test depend on a good sample. The sample should represent the area it is taken from. A soil sample must be taken at the right time and in the right way. The tools used, area sampled, depth and uniformity of the sample, information provided, and packaging all influence the quality of the sample. Take a sample well in advance to give yourself time to understand and act on the results. Do not sample when the land is waterlogged or very dry. For sampling purposes divide the farm into fields or areas of between 2 – 4ha. You will need
  • To get the best potato crop - add plenty of potash

    Potash deficiency in potato tubers Potatoes are heavy feeders. To get the best crop you should add plenty of fertility in the form of manure, compost or organic plant feeds. You might not be aware of how much they can benefit from a high potash feed. Potash is potassium (K) in a plant available form. Tubers with black in the middle are a sign of potash deficiency. Another sign is yellowing around the leaf margins. Sources of potash If you have a wood fire you can use wood ash to boost your potash levels. Take care to only use wood ash. Coal or peat ash is not a good

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