Our baby’s

Our baby’s

Hey there,

This evening I thought I would talk to you about growing stuff on a MASSIVE scale, by hand. When I began this job, I planted in traditional Victorian rows, leaving plenty of space, thinning as I went. It was not enough; nowhere near enough. Of course, it will take us a while to be up to full productivity and capacity, but to help address the deficit, we began the ‘baby beds.’

With advice from Charlie, we introduced microherb style plots for small crops. The word ‘baby’ pretty much prefixes everything we grow here. Carrots, parsnips, chard, leeks…you get the idea. Small generally means full of flavour, tender and luxury = Novikov style.

These plots are intense work. We cover them with a dense black material to stop daylight, wait until germination and then cover with horticultural fleece. Uncover too soon and it could mean disaster – too late and the seedlings are etiolated (weak and leggy). Being tiny and dense, the nursery beds need constant watering and checking. But the good news is that they are working! We now have dense crops of beetroot, radish, carrot, chard, lettuce and leek to name a few, growing away. This style of planting is always a risk. High density means higher risk of damping off, a fungi which loves damp compost.



One of the sets of eight ‘baby’ beds. Note the black covers still on, waiting for germination. In the foreground the beetroot is bulging under the fleece – waiting to be thinned.


Raffe lifts the germination cover from the baby leeks. The soil has been worked intensely. Even the compost here was sieved. Who wouldn’t want to get their roots into that?!


Gently does it…


Aaaaaaaagh…I’m going to drown thinning this lot under here.


The beginning of thinning…

When thinning out it’s important not to get freaked out. Each plot is around the size of an average galley kitchen.

I settled down to begin the task – if it’s not done in time, there is simply no room for seedlings to expand – vital for root crops such as parsnip, turnip, carrot and radish. I was soon joined by Laura and Benjy.

Raffe and I had a lot of  planning to do – OK perhaps we weren’t feeling as excited as we could have been at the paperwork. But it’s certainly great to get it done and instil direction. In conjunction with Novikov’s Head Chef Marco we are carefully selecting our key signature crops at which we will excel. Meanwhile Benjy and Laura held the fort and got three varieties of beetroot and radish thinned…

Earlier on Benjy and Laura had been intensively weeding the bottom border, where bindweed had got itself rather carried away. Here they are finishing off the bed and dividing the day lilies…


Think Laura is definitely catching the sun and rocking the BE healthy glow.

Breaking news. A rabbit has been spotted amongst the pumpkins. I guess it was only a matter of time. The traps have been set.

I will try not to have nightmares.

Good evening X





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