the good, the bad and the ugly

The good..

I am enjoying our first strawberries on my muesli; a great way to start the day. Strawberries from the Devon farm are on the extras list now and we will start on the local Laverstoke Park strawberries in some boxes next week.

All our strawberries fare grown outside in soil, a practice that is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as each year more farmers grow under plastic as insurance against the vagaries of the weather and to intensify production. Some growers have abandoned the soil altogether in favour of a disposable peat-based growing medium. Others have gone even further, growing hydroponically in a gutter, down which fertiliser is trickled.

Such practices are the antithesis of organic production where a close relationship between plant and living soil is regarded as integral to the health of the crop and the flavour and nutritional value it can provide. Our traditional outdoor production in soil is more risky but we believe the berries taste better. You will be able to put this to the test if you come along to our Summer Party at Upper Norton Farm to celebrate our first birthday on 5th July (11am-4.30pm). There will be lots of free activities for children and adults alike, from story telling, to tractor rides and farm walks. More details about the event will follow soon.

The bad...

By now we should be clawing our way out of the hungry gap with our own new season crops, but the salad leaves have suddenly turned yellow over the weekend leaving a gap to fill in the boxes. These weak-rooting sprinters need a ready supply of nitrogen and are yellowing in revolt at their deprivation; we are reliant on the natural breakdown of organic matter in the soil and it would seem that the temperatures this year are not allowing this process to work fast enough. Next year we will try a light dose of chicken manure pellets in the seed bed for the early crops and see if that keeps them happy. In the meantime, we have Duncan Janaway