I’ve had the care of ‘my’ field for a month now – and lots has taken place. Since my last entry I’ve marked out more beds, sown seeds direct: (Cornflowers, Nigella, Sunflowers, Dill, Feverfew, Bupleurum, Gypsophila, Phacelia), planted the first batch of gladioli corms, and planted out young plants that I’ve grown at home: (Cerinthe, Cynoglossum, Euphorbia oblongata, Alchemilla mollis, Antirrhinum, Carnation, Papaver nudicale). I’m regretting not having started my Icelandic poppies off last autumn, they are making lovely plants but I am not sure they will produce flowers for me this year. I have a batch protected by a tunnel cloche, trying to encourage them along with the extra warmth and protection that gives and will just have to wait and see. I see growers such as Erin (www.floretflowers.com) producing armfuls of them and so want to have the same bounty myself, but only time will tell. However I do have them on my list for autumn sowing, and will hope to over winter this year’s crop so with luck next year I will be surrounded by them!
Over Easter my 17-year old nephew visited me from his home in France for a week; primarily to help me on the field. We had a great time and got lots done. Whilst I don’t think I’ve sent him home with a burning ambition to pursue a career in horticulture he did enjoy his experience and studies permitting I think I might have him to call upon for a few years yet. And with luck my sister will find she has a willing helper for her garden as well!
The weather in my first month as a bona fide flower farmer has been ideal. We’ve had warm days and we’ve had quite a bit of rain and the gardens are really lush from it all. However I’ve seen some damage from frost this weekend and whilst I’m hoping it has now passed I’m covering the dahlias that I can no longer fit in my growhouse with fleece and bubble wrap each night (and protecting against slugs and snails too). My growhouse has proved itself to be a brilliant addition to the garden. It is crammed with plants either still too tender to be outside ( more dahlias, and now my young chrysanthemums) seed trays just sown and those full of seedlings, and young plants just pricked out. I’m having to use a sort of conveyor belt system to maximise the space – as young plants settle they get moved into my other (cheaper) growhouse, this second one is polycarbonate glazed not glass and so doesn’t hold the heat as well as my ‘best’ one. After a week or two in this they are moved to the protection of the area outside the back door where they’re hardened off – and finally out into the field where I give them a mulch of old, unwanted silage – just to cosset them a little more. I hope they appreciate the trouble I’ve gone to!
The other change is to the field itself – I now have neighbours as the cattle and sheep are back, with their babies. My patch has been fenced off which makes it look more established, and now and then when I’m working I get this feeling I’m being watched. I turn around and there’s a young calf or a couple of lambs cautiously approaching the fence to get a closer look at this stranger in their midst. I wonder what they’re thinking – as long as it’s not ‘how do we get at those tasty plants’ we’ll do fine together!
Here’s a photo of the field taken this weekend: