What’s new this spring

Things have been busy at the field over the last couple of months. With the weather suddenly getting a whole lot better plants are springing into life, flowers are opening and buds are bursting.

We have new residents arrive last month, 4 piglets, Kune kune crosses. This bred of pig are good for small holdings as they graze; fattening up slowly on a mixed diet, enjoying eating grass and do not need high protein pig nuts.We still have our 7 hens and they are laying lots of eggs each day. Another new addition is our owl box, which arrived last weekend. This has been fitted to the end of the barn over looking the meadow. There are owls in the area so hopefully one of this years youngsters will move in some time later.

The veg garden is still producing a constant supply of salad, chard and herbs. Today I harvested this years first crop of spinach and new season lettuce, making a nice change from all the peppery brassica salad leaves that have seen us through the winter. Over wintering broad beans are now in flower and should be giving us a crop in May. At last I have more peas and broad beans coming up, the mice have eaten one sowing after another, so there will be a bit of a gap in cropping as these will not be ready to harvest until July. Hopefully in future years an owl will control mice numbers.

I am looking forward to a good apple harvest this year, the trees have been in for three years now and this year they have lots of flower buds developing. Today i saw a bee checking out the unopened flowers on one of the pear trees. So I am hoping for no frosts for a while, to ensure fruit set.

The last couple of weeks we have had help at the field from our friend and wwoofer Alex who has now set off to continue his cycle around Europe, next stop Holland. Alex is studying agroecology and his family keep goats for cheese, so we have enjoyed eating lots of tasty goats cheese and had many interesting conversations about ecological farming. Whilst with us Alex helped Dave fence for the pigs, started weeding the raspberries, tidied our tat piles, and prepare veg beds. We also made progress on my irrigation system, the water butts are now linked together, all be it a bit leaky. Slowly getting there, one step at a time. The polytunnel cover is now off and waiting for the new one to go on now the weather is warm. Still a few bits to finish of first, fixing the cross beams, windows and the wooden side rails then the plastic can go on. By then I need to get the irrigation automated, it takes so long by hand.

The fruit bushes we moved earlier in the year are looking great with a bumper crop of flowers coming on the redcurrants and blueberries already.