Mud and Mice

Mud and Mice

Mar 06, 2024Calixta Killander

Greetings from a very wet farm! We know farmers like to bang on about the weather, but the wet and waterlogged conditions are starting to have a real impact on the work we're able to do at the moment.

This Riverford post has been doing the rounds on social media and it echoes what we're experiencing - it's so wet that we can't get into the fields, and we’re already behind with the spring season's tasks which is sure to have a knock-on effect down the line.

There's huge puddles and flooding all around our tunnels, making it difficult to get around the farm and get on with the mountain of prepping and planting that's building up. The wet has led to disease in our ranunculus; we can't do any moving of machinery, which then means we can't get on with planting the next successions of broad beans and onions, which will have an impact on yields later in the year.

We should have ploughed and incorporated the green manures three weeks ago - it's frustrating to sit back and watch the calendar tick on while we're unable to get these key early season jobs done. The bigger implications of this tie in with the reality of climate change for farmers – we've done all we can to bolster drainage but will still see weather-related gaps in food supply through the year because of this wet spring. Much more education and support for farmers is needed - the average person shopping in the supermarket won't notice any gaps in supply as supermarkets will just move on from British farmers and source from further afield.


On a more positive note, things are moving full steam ahead in the propagation house. Thousands of baby seedlings are growing by the day and filling us with excitement and promise for the year ahead.

We have suffered some losses due to a gang of mice with an appetite for onion seedlings (who can blame them?) but otherwise, the miniature jungle is coming along nicely.

We caught up with Noemi, who's been helping out on the farm for the past year and a half, mostly involved with propagating. This week she's potting on tomatoes - these were seeded at week 6, now it's week 10 and they're being carefully moved into bigger pots with sticks to support, to gradually give them more space to grow and strengthen. She's got 16 delicious varieties to pot on and then will be moving on to peppers, aubergines and chillis next week, as well as some nasturtium and verbena for the Farm Shop.

Once the tomatoes have been potted on, they're moved from the heated propagation bays into a cooler area before they're planted into the ground with strings to support their final growing and fruiting period.

Our harvest crew are managing to get out in the mud to pick the season's finest, from overwintered white and purple sprouting broccoli to rainbow chard and our very first tulips - just in time for Mother's Day.

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