Sat 28 Apr 2018 11:16PM

What to grow (and how and where to grow it)?

D Darren Public Seen by 9

So I'm keen to grow some food this year and with other people organised as a commons.

In particular I'd like to grow a load of food that I will eat - things that will store well.

Also stuff that doesnt need a whole lot of looking after.
I've been thinking - beans, peas, or even lentils (all for drying), potatoes, possibly a grain or pseudo gain (something like buckwheat or quinoa)

I had a chat with @farmerfrank who suggested other root crops could also work well - turnips & swedes. Also possibly thick skinned squashes.

Ideally we'd grow one or more of these crops where someone could keep an eye on them.

How the costs, work and food distribution would work we'll have to decide. But I'm personally keen on exploring novel ways of organising this and have some ideas I'll share.


Darren Sat 16 Jun 2018 10:34PM

Been a bit tied up in stuff and the years got away. Would really like to still do something this year, even if quite small scale.

At the recent SoilHack the caterers cooked us a lovely dinner which included carlin peas which I'd not had before, but were delicious. We've still got time for a crop. I think I can secure some seed from the grower that suppled the event and would be happy to have a sack for my own use.

Could grow something else as well or instead?

Anyone want to get involved? - we'll need to finance it, but it shouldn't be very expensive. I can think of a few possible places (Reading, Somerset, Devon, South of London, Brighton or South Wales) we could either grow, or possibly more wisely, pay someone to grow a crop for (or hopefully with) us. I've got room to store the crop and semi-regularly drive across the South so could drop stuff off, at least in the south.


Darren Tue 3 Jul 2018 11:15AM

I've had a chat with a grower friend near Reading whos got space to grow some crops for us and interested in working with us. I guess we would pay him for his time (which hopefully wouldnt be to much). We could go and get involved with planting, weeding, cropping. Quite possibly camp out. Its a lovely field in the middle of some woods.
I'm hopefully going to see some other friends later this week, who save a lot of seed.
I'm currently still thinking we should do some beans and/or peas.
Anyone got any thoughts?


Darren Tue 3 Jul 2018 11:24AM

Just realised everyone wouldnt of been getting notifications that I was sending these messages :laughing:
Hopefully you will be seeing these now, and maybe I'll stop feeling so lonely in here?


Abigail gibbs Tue 3 Jul 2018 9:02PM

Beans sound good. I'm up for being involved. It would be interesting to hear more about how the logistics/finances might work, as not living near Reading, i can't help out with the weeding/watering much. What kind of timescales are involved for deciding and getting a viable crop in?


Farmer Frank Sat 14 Jul 2018 9:05AM

Hi- I like the idea of staple foods that are also seed saving opportunities, peas, beans and buckwheat are a good option. Its getting late in the season for a sowing and harvesting (normally) but with this heat wave we could stay warm into the later part of the year. If you get a move on peas could work at least to get seed for next year, not enough to eat.
From now on I will be sowing winter Raddish as its still good for them, I could still sow Carrots in a warm area that would be harvested in december, you could take a chance on turnips as they may fatten up before it gets too cold, and you could try beets although they may all be small (good for pickling)....... But in the end the farmer will know what will work in the site you have, the soil and what time they have.


Darren Sun 16 Sep 2018 11:19PM

Now we finally have had a bit of rain, I've been wondering about doing an autumn planting somewhere to get things moving. I chatted to a friend whos growing near Reading and has room for us to put a smallish crop in. Theres a photo here of one of the beds we could use (up to the runner beans)
The field is lovely, in the middle of some woods, all beds established and grown without using any chemicals or fossil fuels. We could go and get involved in the planting, or get them to do it to for us. Was thinking a crop of broad beans would be good to overwinter and should give us a useful crop we could dry and distribute without needing much more work than sperating the beans from the pods


Darren Fri 26 Oct 2018 12:04AM

There is about 80 square meters of beds available for us to grow some winter beans on this site. Andy, who grows here, has said he doesnt want anything to plant and keep an eye on the crop for us. I'm thinking it may be interesting to split between the highly regarded large beaned Aquadulce and a smaller beaned, but hardier and possibly heavier yielding fava/field bean.

Time is short the seed will need planting soon. I'm going to order the necessary kilogram of seed tomorrow and should be passing by Reading during the week (possibly Thursday?) with @abigailgibbs and plan to stop to plant the seeds with Andy - if anyone would like to join us let me know.

If anyone wants to support these efforts or would like some of the finished dried beans now would be a good time to speak up.

The financial outlay should be quite low
We may need to have a weed blitz at some point while the beans are growing There will be work picking and winnowing when they are ready in the summer


Darren Wed 7 Nov 2018 9:31PM

I ended up spending £20 to get some Aquadulce beans from The Seed Cooperative.
Thursday afternoon 4 of us planted most of the beans and cleared a bit of the bed for the last few beans that hqdnt been pre soaked, we weren't sure they'd all fit in, so not all of them had been soaked.
They hopefully shouldn't really need any more attention untill they are ready for cropping in summer.
In the mean time we can think about what & where we want to plant in the spring.


Darren Mon 19 Nov 2018 8:21PM

Photo of the beans being planted.


Darren Thu 16 May 2019 4:52PM

Beans are all happily growing on along with a light scattering of weeds (companion plants?). Looks like they probavly wont need weeding.
Wondering if anyone wants to get another crop in the ground soon?

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