Tractor Happy

IMG_20160519_140120 IMG_20160519_140512Last week was a bit of a hard-core tractor fest: I had the use of a tractor which I have a share in (an amazing Fordon Major from 1957, which we call Vivienne – a friend & I bought it between us last year on eBay, and other friends have helped us do it up); so it was all systems go! A neighbour had ploughed the Old Field over the road a few weeks ago, so I borrowed the ringroller from the farm here & hitched it on the tractor, to try and level those big ridge and furrows, so I could at least try to cultivate it. The soil there dries out so quickly though; so after a quick go last Monday, I waited until the rain on Wednesday then tried rolling again on Thursday, which worked much better. Then I managed to borrow the farm’s Kubota tractor & 5ft rotovator (thanks again guys!) on the back, to try and make a nice tilth on Thursday night; it sort of worked in places, but parts of the field that were quite clayey had dried already into clods.

IMG_20160520_145832IMG_20160520_135428On Friday I really needed to start getting the brassicas in the ground, but the tilth didn’t look that great still in places, and there were still some bumps and holes from the ploughing. So I attached my lovely spring tines that I also bought via eBay a couple of weeks ago (£80! bargain, even if there is no guiding wheel any more) to Vivienne, to see if she could pull them around. They worked a treat, and helped break the tilth up some more and level the ground; so Friday afternoon and evening it was all about planting kales. I figured that Saturday I could give my back a rest… sorry back, I promise I will tack you swimming soon!IMG_20160520_181251


May Madness

IMG_20160518_094818Can’t stop for long, all go at the mo: fields being cultivated, seeds going in, plants going in, old crops coming out, weeds & grass to be kept on top of, irrigation to sort out…

There is still time to take 30 seconds out now and then to admire the swallows dipping and diving between the polytunnels; the robins who follow me into the tunnels to see what might turn up for their tea and nest-building; the pied wagtails exploring the newly turned-over ground for grubs and worms; and the masses of ladybirds which have appeared over the last week or so – especially among the parsley, where there at least about 3 per squate foot!

Fresh Start Horticulture Academy

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 18.09.58Fresh Start have just launched a new horticulture academy to their current programme of academies: the idea being that people interested in starting a horticulture-based business can learn the business skills they need, from industry experts. It’s being launched here in the south west, since the interest in food-growing and horticulture here is already huge. Yours truly is on the voluntary steering committee, trying to help make sure the right skills are being delivered in the right way (and at the right time, ie not in the middle of May madness); it’s a great-looking scheme, and it only costs £95 per person for the full 10-session programme (the cost is being subsidised by various funders). There are a limited number of places, and applications close on June 13th, so register your interest quickly to be in with a chance of a place!