Monday, 20 March 2017

Potting time!

Le Jardin de Salade Project

This arrived last Friday, with three hundred of these inside:
Bought from the UK because I could not find a source to buy from here in France,
this package took six days (including a weekend) to get here.
I was impressed.
The pots are 9cms square, and quite sturdy, not thin and crumbly but not thick and heavy duty,
but they are substantial enough to last for quite some time, and at 9p a pot are well worth it despite the cost of postage. If that was included in the cost per pot, this would come out at  14p per pot, which I think is still worth it. We shall be buying more of the same. We have a lot of seeds to get planted.  
We have been rethinking the purchase of a poly tunnel, and are thinking about building one with poly carbonate sheets, whatever that is, which means that we can have a greenhouse which will fit the space rather than having to have major clearance work done.
We have also had a re-think about the 'shop' environment and think that instead of buying a chalet type hut, which is going to cost upwards of 2000 euros, which would look attractive in itself but would not blend in with Labartere's rustic farm look. So thoughts are travelling towards building a  sort of rigid market stall, with rough cut planks of wood at the back and on one side which will give shelter to rain and sun, and will be in keeping with the farm. It will be quite a size, not small as in the stalls found in local markets, and will give a good display area.
The downside is that the area would have to be emptied out after each day because there is no way of locking things up, but if we do alright with this market garden project, then Lester is going to build a lockable shed behind it so we can put things in there at night instead of bringing them back into the courtyard. 
We like this new plan, because passing cars will be able to see what produce we have for sale, rather than everything being inside out of sight.
Most of all, it will fit the look of the property, and be more people friendly.
I have also started looking into getting some signs printed for our little van,
and we shall also need signs for the fences, plus flyers, leaflets, etc
Plenty of time to do this, as we haven't got anything to sell yet!
Lester is also on the move with getting the chicken house built, and I have sourced some young chickens which we can buy in when the chicken house is ready. We have been frequently asked if we sell fresh eggs, so feel encouraged to get our egg production started. One thing, though, and that is that we do not want to look like a commercial operation, which would not suit us or our thoughts about how we want to live at all.
I have been slow in ordering the seeds for this year, mostly because I kept dithering about what to order, but I have finally got the order done and sent off. Ordering for ourselves is easy, but ordering with a view to sell to the public is entirely different.
We think that we shall focus on herbs and baby salad vegetables, if possible on a year round basis, with some standard type vegetables when available, but we do not have enough land to do large crops of potatoes, cabbages, etc..... and neither do we want to grow main crops because there are plenty of people doing that already here. We don't have an interest in that type of produce anyway, apart from growing for ourselves. But what we do have an interest in is the baby veg, salads, herbs, and eatable flower, so this is what we are going to grow. Time will tell if we are on the right track in regards to selling to the public.
Anyway, enough of my rambles,
there is a huge hunk of cooked pork waiting to be cut  up and put into the freezer,
there is milk waiting to be canned / made into butter,
the cheese fridge needs attending to,
and Lester is trying to mow the grass in the courtyard with my hand mower so I need to go and rescue him. Bless him, he has such a lot of infrastructure work still to do, while all I do is stand by and wait to get planting!
Bye for now,
just going to give my husband a hug and take over the lawn mowing task,
PS. the sheep are continuing to do a most efficient job of keeping the grass mown, but the cows are moaning because they want to go out into the field but must stay in because the grass on the fields is still too slow growing.


coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Best of luck on your business venture! If people are already asking about eggs, no doubt you will be successful, once you've priced out chicken feed, etc. As well, it's good to know what most people are growing for themselves and offering up something different. -Jenn

rusty duck said...

Woo hoo!! It's really taking off! And you've reminded me I need to get out there and finish the seed sowing too. Raining again. Make sure the greenhouse roof doesn't leak, believe me it's the pits.

Vera said...

JENN, we produce most of our own food, and any excess goes to our free range chickens, so the cost of producing eggs is not very high.

JESSICA, 'finish seed sowing'?.... we have not even started yet! Could do with some rain here....been months since it rained. As for a leaking greenhouse roof, ....I would think that it is not a happy experience to have drips of cold water running down one's neck, so shall give specific instruction to Himself to make sure the roof is water tight!

The Broad said...

You two fit more into a single morning that I probably do in a month! I think your plan for selling is brilliant and I hope you have a lot of fun doing it...

Vera said...

THE BROAD, oh we are not that busy, and I have plenty of sit downs during the day! We are looking forward to growing herbs, etc, and to pottering about in the greenhouse when it is made.

minwks said...

Dear Vera, Sometimes it must seem overwhelming. I think you are on the right track - keeping the sales hut complimenting the property and the district, I am sure your customers would enjoy that experience as well.
Regards Janine

Rhodesia said...

Hope all goes well and the little veggie shop works well for you. I must get our seeds in but I am not enjoying this chilly wet weather that has just hit us!!! Have a good week Diane

Vera said...

MINWKS, you are right..... frequently we feel overwhelmed by the market shop project, but then again we also feel excited and challenged, which, I think, is a good thing!

DIANE, thanks for your best wishes, for getting the seeds in, we also seem to have hit a slow down since the weather has turned chilly!

DUTA said...

I suppose the little things such as good pots, quality seeds, eye catching signs - have a lot to do with the project success. You'll also need the cooperation of the weather and of the perspective buyers, and ..voila! Good Luck!

Coco said...

Best of luck with your project! Interested to see how you get on.

In a fit of enthusiasm I sowed some seeds, which will now all be frozen since they´re predicting snow.

Still trying to get my head around seed starting indoors with limited space and no infrastructure.

Mama Pea said...

Your plans for you market stand are so exciting. And I love the idea of keeping the stand itself a structure that will fit in with your homestead/farm and way of life. The books on market gardening list specialty greens as one of the most profitable crops so I think you're on the right track. Will you be manning the stand certain hours during the day or have an honor system for purchasing and paying? So many things to think about and do, but it's the starting that counts. You'll be able to make any changes necessary as you go along. Looking forward to reading all about it!

Vera said...

DUTA, you are right.....there are a lot of factors which all have to come together if we are to succeed!

COCO, it is the infrastructure which is taking the time.... and we haven't even started planting our seeds yet!

MAMA PEA, the stand will be on the drive, just beyond the courtyard gates, so is quite close by. We do not anticipate being overwhelmed with customers for a long time yet, so we shall just go out to the stand when we hear a car arrive. The greenhouse will also be near the stand, so we shall work in there when open. It is an exciting time! It will be so good to grow things again after having had last year off.

Kerry said...

Your project sounds so exciting and I wish you all the best with it. Looking forward to hearing how things go. My seeds are in my cold frame but not 300 pots full. That's a lot of compost to buy :)

Old School said...

What an exciting project! Baby greens sound like a good idea – you could start and sell them throughout the season. Since you have those lovely stone buildings, have you considered a lean-to greenhouse? Our brick building makes a great heat sink for our little greenhouse. Ours a bit tatty, being made of salvaged materials, but you two do such beautiful work, I'm sure yours will be lovely.

Old School said...

Vera, if an American approach would be useful, I'm a retired graphic designer and would be happy to help with labels/logos/signage, anytime, for free. If French language skills are required, never mind... Su

Vera said...

OLD SCHOOL, my partner has also come up with the idea of making a little greenhouse against one of the walls of the old chicken hut in the courtyard! I vetoed it at first, and then I read your comment suggesting that it might be a good idea so I reversed my thoughts.

And thanks for the offer of help with the graphics, Su. It was appreciated more than you can ever imagine. Vx