best laid plans

In September last year, Stan and I started to plan all the plantings for this season. We first set about working out exactly what we need for the boxes and then the areas to be planted and volume of seed to be ordered. Finally Stan works out exactly which plots will be planted with what crops, depending on soil conditions and previous cropping. With over 50 different crops harvested over three quarters of the year, this is a pretty complex process. For the last two years this approach has worked amazingly well and really helps us to organise harvesting and get the best from the crops and the land. This year our best laid plans seem to have flown out of the window already! Stan and I have spent the last few days burrowing around in the fields to find signs of moisture retention in the top few inches of soil, which is essential if our young crops are to establish themselves and send out healthy, foraging roots. Like deranged explorers crossing the Sahara, we have staggered from field to field frantically scrabbling away the top, dusty layers of the soil in the hope of finding just a little bit of water underneath.

The result has been a complete rethink. Rather than religiously sticking to the planting plan, each new crop is being allocated to the areas of the fields that seem to have held the most water. Undoubtedly, in time, the new approach will cause us headaches as space for planting on the farm becomes more limited, but we have to give the seeds and seedlings a fighting chance. Fingers crossed we get a good downpour in the next few weeks to ease the pressure.

Farm walks

The walks we ran through 2006 booked up really quickly and we thoroughly enjoyed having many of you on the farm. I think that most of you who came along enjoyed filling your tummies direct from the field. This year we have decided to put on more events, from wildlife walks in May through to pumpkin day in October. Have a look at the website for all the details on when and where the events are happening and how to book.

Rob Haward