Saturday, 27 July 2013

Lower Lovetts Farm. Richard Sandford.

BBC Two - Gardeners' World, 2012, Episode 25:
"Monty was certainly impressed by the quality of Richard Sandford’s organic tomatoes. So what’s the secret of his success? Here are a few tips from the man himself.

All of Richard’s plants are grown in 25cm (10in) terracotta pots half-filled with his own compost. The pots are placed directly onto the sandy floor of his polytunnel where the roots are allowed to grow through the drainage holes in the bottom. Half-filling the pots means that there is a plenty of room for water to drain through. Pots are spaced 30cm (12in) apart to ensure good air circulation.

Richard also likes to train his plants at an angle to reduce the risk of the leaves being splashed by water. It also allows the fruit to hang down away from their support which, in turn, makes them less likely to be damaged.

Now, for the feeding. Monty was clearly surprised that Richard fed his plants every day. This requires some dedication! And furthermore, he makes all three feeds himself! Nettle feed is high in nitrogen and is used to boost leaf growth at the start of the season. Comfrey feed, on the other hand, is rich in potash and so is best applied when the plants start to fruit. Towards the end of August, when the fruit is in its prime, Richard switches to a daily feed of liquid wood ash. This is very alkaline and will eventually turn the leaves yellow, but what a small price to pay for such magnificent fruit! To make it, he simply steeps some wood ash in a bucket of water for three weeks and gives it a daily stir. The liquid is then drained off and any sediment allowed to settle. The liquid concentrate is then bottled and used at a dilution rate of 1 in 50. The wood ash itself must not come from wood that has been painted or treated with preservative."

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