May

Thursday 26th May 2011

The drought continues, the reservoirs drop and we start to get nervous. Our lighter, easily worked sandy and chalky soils are the first to suffer as their water capacity (ability to hold water) is inherently low and quickly exhausted. These properties, leading to them being known as “boy’s land”, make these soils valuable for early crops because they are the... continued

Thursday 12th May 2011

In a normal year, we don’t expect to irrigate the first lettuce, spinach and cabbage. They are planted in March on our better drained, south facing fields, before being immediately covered with fleece to ameliorate the shock of leaving the greenhouse. In an ideal world we remove the fleece a week before harvest, to allow the pampered and excessively soft... continued

Thursday 12th May 2011

We have just come through one of the easiest springs for a long time, with near perfect conditions for planting and weed control. Keeping moisture in the soil is a bit of a challenge, but generally it just means us doing as little cultivation as possible before going in and planting. In this part of the country and with the... continued

Thursday 12th May 2011

I should probably open this newsletter with the disclaimer that, as I am writing about how dry it has been, we will probably get some rain soon! In 2010 we had 43.5mm of rain in March and April; this year we have had a measly 7.5mm. I wonder if that constitutes a drought yet. This has meant we have had... continued

Thursday 12th May 2011

As I write, it’s all across the news that the recent rain has brought an end to the driest March and April for a long time. At this stage we are not aware of any lasting damage as we’ve been able irrigate the ‘critical’ veg (really thirsty crops like lettuces and radishes) in most cases, but it is nonetheless very... continued

Thursday 12th May 2011

Farmers are known for obsessing about the weather, but I think it’s justified at present. We’ve had dry springs for the last two or three years, but this time around it’s been genuinely horrendous, with no rain of any consequence in March or April. The up sum is that we have had to irrigate our carrots, onions and broccoli, which... continued

Thursday 5th May 2011

At the beginning of last week, a Ugandan farmer appeared on our doorstep. Charles Mulwana was trained by Send a Cow in 2004, and is now so involved with the charity’s work that he has come to Riverford to teach schoolchildren (and us) about sustainable agriculture. They say that if you leave your walking stick in the ground in Southern... continued

Thursday 5th May 2011

At the beginning of last week, a Ugandan farmer appeared on our doorstep. Charles Mulwana was trained by Send a Cow in 2004, and is now so involved with the charity’s work that he has come to Riverford to teach schoolchildren (and us) about sustainable agriculture. Back in 2001 I took a two month sabbatical to visit farming friends in... continued

Thursday 5th May 2011

At the beginning of last week, a Ugandan farmer appeared on our doorstep. Charles Mulwana was trained by Send a Cow (the charity whose excellent work Riverford supports) in 2004, and is now so involved with the charity’s work that he has come to Riverford to teach schoolchildren (and us) about sustainable agriculture. Back in 2001 I took a two... continued