The spring equinox has arrived, and with it, thankfully, some signs that life is returning to the gardens. It also marks the start of the volunteer season, and we’ve been delighted to welcome Tasha to the farm for the past few weeks. Visitors have also started arriving at Birch Eco Cottage, and the calendar is starting to fill up. It is time to get busy.
For the first time since planting them five years ago, many of our trees are now big enough to need their lower branches pruned, opening up the understorey, and allowing us to develop planting there. Because the ground cover is mainly creeping buttercup, we’ve cardboard mulched a great area underneath the trees and towards the orchard. That’s got a generous topping of some of our horse manure mountain, and we’ll be planting into it fairly soon. All part of a plan to more thoroughly adopt a no dig approach, in the same way that Charles Dowding advocates.
At the same time, the polytunnels have been cleaned up, trays of seedlings are warming in the propogator, and an air of orderliness has come over the indoor growing areas. Despite all the recent snow and ice, our peach tree is blossoming cheerfully, and with a little careful hand pollination (a paintbrush does the trick) we are hopeful of another decent crop.
It’s been a pretty unrelenting and often miserable winter, so to be able to sit in the sunshine, and eat the occasional fresh green leaf is something that Lyra especially loves. Sometimes she takes the idea of grazing rather to literally.
Outside, the ponds are heaving with frogspawn. This season the small, lower pond has loads, although all the adult frogs seem to be living it up in the big pond, and at any one time, there are ten or so, lolling around in the shadows, in amongst the piles of spawn. Weather permitting it should be a bumper year for frogs.
The outside beds are getting a clean up, ready for mulching and then more no-dig, and it’s a relief to see them emerging from under the grass. There’s a surprising amount of food lurking in some of them, as witnessed by this gigantic bucket of unusual potatoes that Tasha found whilst weeding. We’ve also been busy fixing up the willow fences, and creating the first of our living willow arches, as part of the living fence that will eventually protect the growing spaces from unruly chickens, dogs and children, whilst giving us a healthy yield of basket willow. This is, we hope our first really well organised season in the garden, and all the work that went before will pay off as we use some of the lessons learned to keep on top of the food growing, and then,harvest and storage. We shall see…