BABOG Meeting: Electric Daisy Flower Farm

On a VERY bitterly cold January morning, 16 hardy growers (and two hardy sons) met up at the Electric Daisy Flower Farm‘s new 2.5 acre site near Faukland and Norton St Philip, to have a farm walk and general New Year’s catch up. We were warmly welcomed by business owner Fiona Hawes Bizony, and while sheltering in the fantastic barn and huddled over fresh coffee and cake, she told us about her set up and vision for the future. She started the business several years ago and rented land the other side of Bradford on Avon, in a walled garden, and finally managed to secure her own land land spring; so summer, autumn and winter 2017 were all about the move, and planning out the new site. A range of perennial, biennial and annual flowers are grow on a general no-dig basis, using mulched beds with a thick layer of municipal green waste, and woodchipped pathways. Fiona explained that they (herself plus two part-time growers Ria and Sam) have wider paths than other farms, deliberately measured to ensure ease of picking, and also to allow the Kubota tractor and trailer to pass down. (Smaller tracks are B roads, busier paths are A roads, and there’s a planned ‘motorway’ down the middle, along with some tree planting planned to provide shade for picking buckets in the heat of summer, as well as a pleasant space and view.)

The first thing they put in place was some hard standing and compost bays, right next to the gate for ease of delivery; plus Fiona pointed out that it’s an important first impression to see – the garden runs on the compost, which provides fertility, growing media, water retention and many other benefits. The hard standing also allows for 12 cars, making events there practical.

As well as selling flowers to order mostly direct for weddings and events, they have also started running events and corporate days, which have worked well. Watering is a problem to solve in 2018; they have mains water, but currently no irrigation system on the beds as they are still setting up. Plans for composting toilets are well under way but not currently finished; and Fiona also told us about the problems they have had with evil thieves who cut through gate padlocks and stole various items on two occasions over Christmas.

As well as a Keder greenhouse for propagating and protection, Fiona starts off most seeds at home on the underfloor-heated kitchen floor; there is also an area of pots which she refers to as her ‘library’, as they are laid out in alphabetical order on Mypex strips for ease of finding. We also looked round the beds that are in place and some still under construction; many plants are in place and sitting out the winter, such as ranunculus and anenomes, with more beds to come over the coming weeks.

Many thanks to Fiona, and all the fellow growers who offered great advice and stories; we look forward to seeing you at the next meeting, date and venue tbc – if you’d like to get involved and/or host a meeting, please get in touch!


Farm Drop Bath & Bristol

Next week sees the launch of Farm Drop in Bath and Bristol, which is very exciting: think ethical online supermarket where you can order fresh produce direct from producers, to be delivered to your home the next day in their electric vans! They will be stocking some of my fab produce in September and October, 6 days a week (not Mondays as I’m having a day off!), so register and start ordering online now!

Wet Wet Wet

Well we have had some nice sunny weather in May & June, so I can’t really complain; although we do seem to have an establishes pattern now of hot and dry early summer, followed by cooler and wetter late summers. This is all fine if you can get all your irrigation sorted for the first part of the season, and have all the ground prepared for when you can’t get on it later on. However, it’s rather a pain when it comes to clearing early summer crops and trying to put early autumn produce in: also for getting on top of the weeds, as the buggers keep rerooting and reseeding, and if we spend too long weeding in the wet, we’ll trash the ground. Hey ho, and hurrah for polytunnels…

Meanwhile the crops are actually doing very well; as well as some lovely sunflowers, zinnias, gypsophilia and cornflowers, we’re now picking salads, fennel, courgettes, chard, spinach, kales and perennial herbs outside, as well as tomatoes, climbing beans, basils (check out our gorgeous Thai basil photo!), coriander, chillies, peppers and cucumbers inside. The cucumbers were almost a disaster following the destruction of the first lot by woodlice, but fortunately we’d sown a back-up second lot, and then quickly sowed a third lot too, so they are just a bit behind but catching up now.

At least the rain means time for catching up on paperwork, and blog posts!