The first impression people often experience on arriving at Trigonos is the spectacular location – the ever-changing shifts of light and mood never fail to impress.
The 18 acres for which we are responsible lie within this grander landscape – gardens, meadows, woodland and stream. Three polytunnels and a substantial plot of land including a small orchard and hen-run allow for salad, herbs, fruit and vegetable growing. Providing sustainably grown fresh food of good quality has always been integral to the purposes of Trigonos, as has the amenity value of the larger estate as a whole.
Trees that we planted years ago are now well-established and the fields that are following grassland management plans encourage bio-diversity as they gradually become wild-flower meadows – even better for our bees and other insect life.
Trigonos began as a business 20 years ago; our outlook remains fresh with an awareness of the many potentials that await attention, development & care.
The Value of Polytunnels
A polytunnel is a real asset, It protects more delicate crops from strong winds that sometimes rush up the Nantlle Valley – winds with rain on their backs.
Having three tunnels means that we are able to increase the variety of produce and extend its availability for much of the year. It always seems to happen that it is a radish that is first ready from a Spring sowing. Bright red, crispy white inside with a sparky tang to match. Yum! Other greens follow on, salad stuffs, lettuce and spinach are sown at intervals to keep the continuity of supply. Then it’s tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers – around 250 plants, more or less, fill up the largest tunnel
Spring cabbage, endive and parsley are overwintered in one of the other tunnels along with other plants that can hold through the colder months
A programmed irrigation system with water drawn from the stream neatly divides each tunnel into quarters so that we are able to grow crops in rotation. There are always extra seedlings or pressing requests from the kitchen to meet so that all available space is made use of. Peas and beans do well, as do fennel and celery
We collect spent hops from a small local brewery that are spread around the base of plants as mulch. They are a useful weed suppressant, moisture and warmth retainer and source of fibre when dug in at the end of each season. The brewery is glad to have found a use for them too!
An average of around 40 items are cultivated in these three tunnels, picked fresh at around 8.30 each morning, they are taken straight to the kitchen for all to enjoy at mealtimes.
Growing Vegetables on an Acre Plot
Growing vegetables at Trigonos is an on-going learning process, of becoming ever more familiar with environment, soil and plants and their interrelationships. There is an annual cycle of planning, rotovating, de-stoning the ground, manuring, bed forming, planting out and protecting. All the former lead up to harvesting and eventually – eating. Quality and taste is what we’re after. This is what it’s about – nourishment.
Each growing year follows a similar pattern, but like snowflakes no two are the same. Changes of climate and fickleness of weather require flexibility and we have to be ready to make our own changes in what can be done each day and year.
Our produce is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. We make a lot of our own compost and import manure from a neighbouring farm. Our planting programme is guided by the Bio-dynamic sowing and planting calendar that reminds us daily of our connection with the greater environment of sun, moon and stars
Michaelmas, at the end of September, is a pivotal time. A time to take stock of what worked well, where we made mistakes and what is yet to be explored. We stand at a new creative point, the seed catalogues are coming in and we will make our choices from experience and always with the freedom to try something new
This year the vegetable growing plot has been left fallow, after many years of productivity. The word ‘fallow’, suggests something static, unused, left to get on with it, unproductive etc. it has a rather negative, abandoned ring to it. Not so. In order for the land to have a ‘rest’, care has to be taken to cultivate it in such a way that it will be in good heart and fertility for a return to cropping.
To this end so far we have:
- worked in farmyard manure in early Springtime
- covered with a sowing of green manure – phacaelia, which also helps to suppress weeds
- turned in the phacaelia at the point of flowering in July. This returns bulk, fibre and nutrients to the soil
- sown buckwheat as a follow on cover crop
The photograph shows Owain using a traditional ‘sowing fiddle’ to broadcast the buckwheat seed over the field. Just a week or two later, following a rapid germination, there is already significant ground cover for the next stage.