Winter on the farm

Deep strawed strawberry plantsThe only fruit we have at this time of year is frozen in the farm shop, but there’s still plenty to keep us busy! The to-do lists include pruning, planting and maintenance, so whenever the sun shines (or at least, when it doesn’t rain), we’re out on the field.

The wet weather this winter continues to make life challenging for growers in our area. We do some jobs manually that are normally done with the tractor, to avoid compacting the wet ground with the weight of the tractor.

Gooseberry pruning

Gooseberry pruning is a winter job and we are about half way through. It’s a favourite task – each bush is different, and pruning encourages new growth and reduces congestion to make the gooseberry picking easier. It can be very therapeutic deciding where to make the various pruning cuts and, as long as it is not windy or wet, the cold weather is great for clearing away the cobwebs.

Deep-strawing

We cover some of the later varieties of strawberries plants with a deep layer of straw at this time of year, to block out the light and trap the cold into the plant, to delay the strawberry crop. This helps spread the strawberry season over several weeks in the summer, when the plants eventually grow through the straw.

This year, we had to deep-straw the plants when the ground was frozen and covered in snow; until then, the ground was too wet to drive the tractor across. Compare this to the incredible dry winter we had last year (pictured below).

Let’s hope the wet weather will come to an end soon and we can get back on the land and sow some broad beans. Soft fruit doesn’t like wet feet.

Covering the strawberry plants in straw

Covering the strawberry plants in straw

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