Thursday, 26 April 2012

7lb beetroot

I don't like to brag too much, but a half stone beetroot is surely worth a mention?!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Pests, rain and ridging

When people ask me what organic growing is all about, I usually try and steer away form what it isn't (no herbicides, artificial fertilisers, etc) to what it actually is based on. In mainland Europe organic farming/growing is called ecological or biological farming, and this is a much more accurate representation of what it is.

Understanding that soil itself is a complex ecosystem, that fields are (or at least should be) ecosystems, and the relationship of plants with those systems. Here is a case in point - look at this photo. Look carefully along the plant stem near the flower and you'll see thousands of insects - in this case aphids.

These aphids feed on the plant, so not good. Get the sprays out, get rid of them! That's one option, but remembering that patience is a virtue, let's try and understand what happens if we wait. In just a few days the ladybirds will appear, which have a voracious appetite, and aphids are one of their favourite prey!

That's also why many wild plants like campions, nettles and many other fleshy green plants are so important. You can't have predators without prey, and without that balance the ecosystem is out of check.

The lack of rain through the winter and spring has been worrying for the prospects of the water table this summer, and also less than ideal conditions for crop growth. However over the last week or so there had been some reasonable rainfall, which has definitely helped things pick up.

Early spuds are looking quite nice, ridged up for the second time now, and on course for being ready in early May. Some carrots are nearly pencil thickness and many leafy crops are coming on quite well.

It's always a pleasure this time of year to see the wild flowers around, like bluebells in the fields. And on the farm the first apple blossom is a sign that summer's just around the corner!