Late spring on the farm

The farm has suddenly burst into life and the fields are lush and green. It’s a busy and exciting time of year as the crops get ready for their impending fruit season.
Gooseberry field in spring

Fruit season 2013

So far this year, everything is running about two weeks later than normal, which would mean the fruit will be ready by mid June. However, if the weather takes a turn for the better, the fruit may catch up and start early June.

Fruit plants in bloom

The gooseberry and redcurrant bushes are in flower at the moment. This looks great but we nervously hold our breath if we get a hard overnight frost, as this will damage the blossom and reduce the fruit crop.
Gooseberry bush blossom
The first blossoms are now out in the strawberry variety Elsanta. We’ve brought them along a little early by covering the plants with crop-fleece, which warmed the soil up and advanced the crop by a week to ten days.
From now until when the blossom turns to fruit, we keep the fleece pulled back off of the plants to allow the bees and pollinating insects to do their work in the crop. However, if the temperatures drop at night we have to cover the plants up again to protect the blossoms.

Sowing crops

We’ve just planted a second sowing of broad beans, which will give a later crop and therefore extend the season. We hope to sow the sunflowers and sweetcorn this week.

The first sowing of broad beans (pictured below) are growing well.
Young broad bean plants

Strawberries

We rotate that strawberry plants on a three to four-year cycle, because strawberry plants don’t fruit so well after four years of crops. This spring, we replanted the variety Florence and a new early variety of strawberry called Vibrant that we are trying for the first time.

Irrigation

We bury the dripper lines (irrigation pipes) under the new strawberry plants, before hooking them up to the main water pipe that runs up the field.  We are licensed to source our irrigation water from underground.  This water goes in a holding tank and is then pumped up the field when it’s needed.

Dripper lines are a really efficient way of getting the water direct to the plants with minimal waste. We also have probes in the ground that we read regularly during a dry spell so we can determine just how much water the crops need. This helps to avoid wasting water.

Unfriendly visitors

You may notice some brightly coloured plastic traps around the field, which catch pests that damage the crops. The red traps in the raspberries have lures in the top and sticky bases to catch raspberry cane midges.  The blue trap in the wind break will hopefully catch strawberry blossom weevil.

Busy bees

A friend has kept a beehive on the farm this winter and about half of the bees have survived. The bees are very busy now in and out of the beehive collecting pollen from around the fields.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.