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  • Farmer Powell

No. 3 Can we grow pumpkins in Radnorshire?????

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

On 16th January 2020 I registered with Tyfu Cymru Grow Wales this allowed me to access the expertise of Chris Creed from ADAS fully funded. This was a huge turning point for us. Chris came out to visit us on 7th February he had a walk around the fields we thought would be best suited to growing pumpkins and discussed what would be required. He was supportive of the idea and gave us guidance on how to grow pumpkins - bearing in mind I have never grown one before and I am not a green fingered gardening goddess by any means. Chris suggested starting with an acre or two (4000-10000 plants). We found what we thought would be the ideal spot so we began work fencing it off and preparing the ground before things got really busy with lambing and calving.

Chris advised us to sow the pumpkin seeds in seeds trays in a poly tunnel in mid April due to our height, the climate here and the risk of a late frost. This would give the seedlings a head start and we should aim to plant them out at the end of May. So the hunt for a poly tunnel was on. Initially I contacted all of the local garden nurseries to see if they would have any space which we could rent and they host the seeds for 4 - 6 weeks but no one had room. The only option was a Community garden but unfortunately that wasn't an economical option in the end.

Then one day whilst driving to my parents house I remembered a local farmer who had diversified into vegetable boxes many years ago, did he still have a polytunnel, would he look after the seeds for us? So I spoke to my Dad and he said he would call by and ask him but every time he did he couldn't find him, I tried calling but no answer. Finally a few weeks later I managed to get a mobile number and I sent a text. The reply "not for rent but 2 poly tunnels for sale, dismantle them yourself" this was the break I needed. I called on my faithful Mum and Dad and we set to one miserable Saturday morning (7th March) to dismantle a polytunnel. It was a new experience but we did it with some permanent marker pens to label all the parts, plenty of drill batteries and lots of WD40.

So the polytunnel made it back to Powells Farm but that is as far as it got. The UK reported the first death from Coronavirus on 5th March and 100 people in the country had now tested positive for the virus. The mini Pumpkin conference which we had been looking forward to on 17th March was cancelled and we were left feeling uncertain and questioning the plans we had made. Things escalated quickly with the UK going into lockdown on March 23. The girls were home from school and required home schooling, our son didn't have a nursery to go to and the lambing students couldn't come anymore. Unfortunately the ewes had no idea what was going on and within a couple of days we were in the full flow of lambing 2020. Thankfully a local lady was available to help a couple of mornings a week, the children got stuck in and my work allowed me to take a month off to help. So we survived and the weather was on our side this year. But we had a huge decision to make in April - do we order the pumpkin seed and if so how many seeds?

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