Winter finally arrived in February with 4-6 inches of snow and 2 weeks of freezing temperatures. The vegetables didn’t mind the snow too much (although they were a bit harder to find than usual!) but the freezing temperatures damaged the less hardy greens such as spinach, chard and some of the salad leaves so there will be less of those through March.
And the end of February has given us some relatively mild and dry weather, so we've been busy spreading muck and cultivating, and even planted a few early potatoes today (27 Feb).
The South East is officially in drought because ground water levels are low due to less than average rainfall and increasing water usage. There is no immediate effect on us as growers, our fields are holding plenty of water at the moment, but we will be happy to have plenty of nice gentle rain over the next growing season, both to replenish the groundwater sources (for every-one's benefit) and to establish our vegetable crops.
We are learning to adapt to relatively dry springs, for example, trying to cultivate newly rotated ground in the autumn, so we are not losing important moisture at planting time and working on a 2 year glass&clover/one year vegetable rotation, enabling more organic matter to build up in the soil, which helps to hold water. We will also be collecting rainwater on a small scale for irrigation, but as we are only tenant farmers, we would struggle to make the investment in a reservoir for large scale water collection/storage.
|Claytonia salad leaves growing in a polytunnel. Claytonia is the cultivated variety of the wild plant|
'Spring Beauty' and adds some balance to our spicy winter salad bags.
|Autumn sown garlic, growing inside our rented Victorian walled garden.|
|'Olantigh' Field, late sown leeks to the left, some of this year's veg ground to the right and the North Downs Way' |
public footpath going across the field.
|...and Olantigh Field again, looking down towards Wye.|
|Newly ploughed ground outside the walled garden.|
|Orchard Field, rows of kales to the right, and more of this year's veg ground to the left.|
|Polytunnel cultivated, ready for sowings of early salad greens and spinach|
|First batch of seed potatoes, some of which were sown today, March 27.|
|Rinbow chard seedlings, showing their beauty already.|