Spring is here at last, the blackthorn in the hedgerow is now covered in the delicate pure white blossom and the broadleaved trees are beginning to come out in leaf, and as if by magic the hedges are all turning green.
The oak is out before the ash which is good news as the old saying says “if the oak is before the ash we are in for a splash, if the ash is before the oak we are in for a soak”. Let’s hope that this is correct and we have a hot dry summer.
Spring is by far my favourite time of the year on the farm. We have moorhen chicks on the pond to join the Canada geese and the nesting swans but the real sign of summer is when the swallow arrives. I spotted 5 arrive here on the farm last week; they have already started to build their mud nests in the old stable block.
We can all enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the seasons but the work load now increases considerably.
The crops all begin to grow, but nothing grows as well as the weeds do! We have to protect our crops from competition for moisture and nutrients and so we carefully kill off the obvious weeds near to the crop and also apply a pre-emergence herbicide to kill the weeds that we cannot see. To avoid too much ground compaction we tend to use a low ground pressure ATV (all terrain vehicle) and covered spray nozzles to direct the spray to where needed and avoid drift
We grow 4 different varieties of blackcurrants and 8 different cider fruit varieties. The reason for this is to try and spread the harvest time so that we can harvest the crop at the best stage rather than having all the fruit ready at the same time.
This year there seems to be a tremendous difference, whereas last year there seemed to be very little difference
I mentioned last month about the grafting of the cider fruit, to change one variety to another variety. We have started the process by cutting down the main trunk ready to put the new graft wood in next month. The graft wood that we cut last month has been stored in a cold store at 2 degrees centigrade along with blackcurrant cuttings, forestry trees and poplar cuttings all of which will be planted during the coming month.
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