Trill Farm seed field lab in leafy Devon
Trill Farm - 31 May 2013
My first visit was on Tuesday 21 May to record the progress of seed varieties, donated by various vegetable seed breeders. The trial is managed by Ashley and Kate Wheeler at Trill Farm near Axminster Devon. Ash and Kate are running their own business within a larger 300 acre organic farm on a level site of yellow clay loam incorporating several multi-span poly tunnels. Their main crops are salads intended to local restaurants and shops, including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Café in Axminster.
The trial comprises of tomatoes, leeks, carrots and parsnips. Brussel Sprouts had been donated but Ashley had decided not to sow these as that crop was not one that fitted his growing and marketing plan. Ash sows into West Riding module compost and pots out into same brand potting compost.
- Jens Tangerine
- Britain's Breakfast
- Bloody Butcher
- Black Russian
- Chocolate Cherry
- Matina (control)
Sowing was on 30th March and all showed very good germination. Five plants of each variety will be planted out with his commercial crop (Matina).
Leek varieties were sown 27th March into modules. The control variety did not germinate. Two to three seeds were hand sown into each module. Germination % follows name:
- Toledo 80%
- Blue Solsaise 40%
- Winter Giant 80%, leafy
- Northern lights 60%, patchy, could be due to uneven warming cables
- Long De Mezieres 70%, promising.
Carrots sown outside 3rd April with hand pushed Earthway seeder; germination % follows name:
- Early Market 60%
- Amsterdam Forcing 20%, patchy
- Amsterdam Forcing (Maxi 2) 65%
- Chantenay Royale 20%
- St Valery 75%
- Bambino 80% sparse at one end due to couch grass
- Napoli 70% due to slugs next to grass border.
All gaps were re-sown by hand.
All parsnip plots were sown by hand mixed with radish seed. While the radish had emerged well the parsnips were only just beginning to show. Varieties sown are:
- Imperial Crown
- Hollow Crown
- Tender and true (control)
Trill Farm is a 300 acre mixed organic farm set in the rolling hills and woodlands of east Devon, close to the Jurassic coast. Romy Fraser and her family bought the farm in 2008 with the aim of developing an education centre, and community of small businesses based on the farm, working together to use resources of the diverse landscape. Ashley and Kate came to run the vegetable garden in 2010 and began selling to local restaurants, specialising in salads.
The seed variety field lab is looking into Open Pollinated (OP) seed varieties available to non-organic growers and trialling them in organic systems with a view to either creating a demand for them organically or saving them on farm for use in subsequent years. The field lab is part of the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme which is aiming to improve productivity, quality and environmental performance in organic and low-input agriculture.