blog | Fern Verrow | Page 3

Rain on the way

Coo what a scorcher of a week. A promise of some decent, very much-needed rain  forecasted for tonight and tomorrow.  We planted and sowed over an acre of vegetables this week, a late night last night with watering the newly planted seedlings. Tonight’s rain should bed them in nicely and save us a lot of time and energy. However there is always something to challenge us. for the first time in a number of years we are troubled by what we think is a fox, stealing some of our birds. We are being as vigilant as we can, running a dog patrol of the perimeters, and the men peeing in the hedges to lay their scent. Very annoying and upsetting. Heard a shot gun go off a few times today so I expect someone else is being as troubled as we are.

Apart from the fox problem all going rather well, with more and more crops coming into fruition. Strawberries are still on great form and super sweet and juicy. A couple of punnets of blackcurrants and redcurrants make their debut. More green and ruby chard, fresh white onions and some beautiful lettuce. Perhaps even a few baby courgette for the early risers.

Coming soon beetroot, tayberries, raspberries, red Florence onions and in a few weeks the first new season potatoes. Lots of beautiful blue and white Iris on the flower front.

 

Growing at last

Finally a full week of warm sunshine, enabling us to progress very well in our work. Burning the candle at both ends somewhat with late evening and early morning irrigation and so on. Much growth everywhere, so we have been very busy weeding and cultivating the crops. Much more to sell this week. Hurrah!

Very pleased with the lettuce this week we have sturdy, sweet and beautiful, perfect specimens, so will be bringing many to Spa this week. Lots of chard to be harvested from the first of the outdoor grown crops. Strong squeeky stems of green and ruby. Fresh white onions and lots of hot French breakfast radish.

The strawberries and gooseberries have loved the sun this week. The gooseberries have started to turn a little more yellow, indicating that they are sweeter, so very much at their prime. However I must say the strawberries are super splendid. Shiney and bright and very sweet. A few cherries from the tree in our greenhouse  the most beautiful red colour and very perfect looking (see pic)

Yesterday was a BD flower day we started the day doing a 501 spray with the seasonal crew, which everyone seemed to enjoy on a perfect summers morning. We then hit the flower beds and turned them around from the spring flower production to summer. Many exciting cutting flowers to come. In about three weeks we will be awash with colour. The roses are in full blown bloom and I try to deadhead for a few minutes each day to encourage new buds and to keep things looking their best.

The star flowers this week are Iris, blue and white, and the first of the very special flanders poppies. A batch of this seasons strawberry jam too.

 

The sun has got its hat on

Hurray, at last we have some sunshine, and a promise of dry weather forecasted for the next ten days. Time to get going properly again.

This week we planted seven varieties of French bean and some runners. All looking very tidy around  the canes. Nice to have them outside at last.

Lots to do today so just a quick note to tell you what we have for sale this week.  Strawberries and gooseberries are plentiful. Lots of herbs as usual- mint, tarragon, sage, oregano, rosemary, lovage, dill and some chervil. We will have lots of radishes, salad bags and lettuces. Beetroot leaves, spinach and some ruby chard in the greens section.

We are selling our tomato plants well, this week we have some annual flower plants too. Cosmos, poppies and carnations. All good for cut flowers and easy to grow. Cut flowers too with poppies, peonys and roses being the main crops… great pinky colours.

This week at Spa Terminus

We’ve had a funny old week, what with the incessant rainfall. Yesterday we had over an inch,  the roads were flooded and it felt like autumn. However as usual we made the best of it, using our time filling a large dumper truck with scrap metal to go to the scrap man, very satisfying to be rid of junk and clear some space for new projects. A leaf day was used sowing leaf crops in the propagating greenhouse… sprouts, cabbages and such like for Christmas lunch!

Today however was bright and sunny, which was helpful to dry off some of our crops ready for harvesting and bringing to Spa. Guess what? We have some strawberries, real beauties, large and juicy. They are our first fruit crop of the year, thanks to the fantastic new beds that Harry made last autumn. We should have lots next week , so if you miss them this week don’t worry. We hope also to start picking gooseberries next week too., with some elderflowers to go with them.

The animals are doing well, we had a new calf born last week, another female, we have called her Tessa. Although the sheep are shorn they don’t seem to be too worried about the cool weather. The grass is thick and they have plenty of food to keep them warm. The little lambies are not so little any more growing fast and fat!

Radish again this week, lettuce too… nice butterheads and our favourite Cocarde. Chard and beet tops too. Lots of lovely flowers too roses, peonys and unusual foxgloves. Herbs galore having loved all the rain they are on good form.

Coming soon… peas, broad beans, spinach, beetroot and lots more besides

Camelot

At last we are in full swing of the growing season proper. Planting has been the name of the game this week. We started by spending Monday morning planting the potatoes. Always a land mark day, as we usually always plant potatoes first in any season. We talked about the weather conditions in which we have done the planting over the years. Monday was one of the best, bright  and sunny and the soil beautifully warm and the ridger  performing beautifully forming near perfect beds….. well done Harry! Next we were drilling root crops, just a few for now for mid summer eating, beetroots, summer carrots and red Florence onions.  We finished late, but in time for the sheep shearing and moving the ewes and their young lambs onto fresh grass. A good sixteen hour day, we were tired, but very happy to have achieved so much. However the best part was hearing the rain during the night, watering our newly planted crops and refreshing the air. Sunny and very warm again on Wednesday, peas and broad beans sown and planted, and the first batch of courgette plants. An afternoon in the flower beds, planting out trays and trays of flower seedlings. Thank you again to Harry for building and tending some beautiful new flower beds. Rain again in the night and during the early hours of Thursday…. is this Camelot? I know it sounds a bit bizarre.

Our greenhouse is helping us through the pre season hungry gap, lots of lovely things coming from there. Ruby chard, radish and beetroot tops this week. Lettuce and salad bags too. All the herbs under the sun, on great form and tasting lovely.

A few chickens for sale on Saturday, big fellas to boot.

 

May Days

Finally, we are working the land… the manure is spread and the process of bed preparation has begun. The weather is not helping that process so much though, with heavy downpours overtaking the sunny periods… never mind at least we are as up to date as we can be. On Monday we planted the young tomato plants into the greenhouse, all looking very smart in straight rows, nine varieties this year, mostly old favourites,but good uns. We will have a few tomato plants for sale on Saturday for your gardens.

Germination in the propagating greenhouse has been rather erratic  so far, rather a pain. The reason for this I think is the lack of quality in the daylight these past few weeks. Very bright and hot one moment and other days are cold and grey… confusing for the seeds, a bit of consistency is what they need.

Soft fruit season is only a few weeks away, we hope you like gooseberries, we are going to have tonnes of them, redcurrants and blackcurrants too.

Tulips are well and truly finished now, next come the poppies, lilac,  and ranunculus with delphinium and lupin hot on their heals. The roses are looking fine enjoying this temperate weather.

Soft fruit season is only a few weeks away, we hope you like gooseberries, we are going to have tonnes of them, redcurrants and blackcurrants too.

Enough about the silly flowers, spinach is very good at the moment. Lots of radish for sale this week. Salad bags on good form with the addition of some rather perfect looking rocket. Herbs are bountiful and splendid mint, dill, fennel, thyme, sweet cicely, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives and coriander too.

 

Darling buds of May

Woke up this morning to an enthusiastic dawn chorus, cockerels in their house competing with each other for the greatest crow.The sound in that confined space must be deafening, but perhaps not to them. All the wild birds are up bright and early, bird rush hour if you like with nests to rebuild and breakfast to fetch for the young chicks. It is very nice to lie in bed and listen and watch for a few minutes and gather ones thoughts for the day ahead.

Even though we say it ourselves Fern Verrow is looking gorgeous! This truly is our most favourite time of year. Trees are out in leaf, clematis is beginning to blossom tangling itself  in an apple tree outside the kitchen window. The contrasting pinks of their blossom  looks beautiful. Lambing is done for this year, with the final arrival of twin boys on Monday morning. Our flock is now grazing new grass so green  it hurts your eyes. A calf due from today onwards, so regular checking needing to be done over the next week or so, her udder is swelling, indicating that things are not too far away. Next week we are expecting ducklings, goslings and turkletts ( that is what we call them) So rather the picture book farm at present.

Fingers crossed muck spreading and land prep scheduled for Monday xxxxxxxxx!

This week we have some chickens for sale. On the vegetable front we have spinach, radish and lots of herbs. Plenty of Rhubarb too. Tulips, white daffodils and some wild flower bunches for sale also.

 

 

 

 

 

April showers

A lovely bright morning today, a welcome sight after much rain the past few days. The grass is eye achingly green and the hedgerows are swelling with cow parsley and other gorgeous greenery. Hoping and praying for drier days ahead so that we can finally get onto the land and get some planting and sowing done. Patience is a virtue they say! So we must be virtuous.

Only one more ewe due to lamb, big as a house and ready to pop. A record number of twins born,  so far a very good lambing year. Won’t miss the thrice daily checking and counting, not a quick job on our hilly land.

The herbs have loved a good drink of rain, all looking very healthy and delicious.

This week we have some rather unusual radish to sell, long pointy dark rose in colour and nice and hot. Spinach again, and only a little chard. Lots of rhubarb, and a nice young batch of salad bag goodies.

Tons of tulips, glamorous parrots blowsy and eccentric. Many eggs from happy chickens.

 

 

Easter weekend

It’s been a long week, worked all day Sunday moving,  dagging (don’t ask) and tagging the sheep. They are now clearing up a patch of land where we will been planting potatoes, hopefully, not in the too far distant future. More lambs this week including two sets of lovely twins. Lots of huffing and puffing in this warm weather from the few left that haven’t had their lambs yet. Am expecting another two ewes to lamb overnight.

We’ve had a nice couple of days on the flower beds, weeding finished, freesia bulbs planted, and pathways mown… all looking very municipal! Perfect temperatures for working outside, warm but not too warm and a nice cool breeze. What an amazing time of year it is by far my favourite. The green is so green and the blossom so flouncy at fragrant.

Thanks to everyone for buying all the tulips last week, lots again this Saturday including a really pretty pink and yellow variety.

We really are in what we call the hunger gap… not a vast amount to offer this week. The greenhouse is doing us proud with chard, perhaps some radish and the return of salad bag crops. Loads of fantastic herbs though, definitely their time of year, so therefore it must be what we should be eating lots of!

 

 

 

 

Plenty of eggs from the well behaved chickens. Talking of which, a few cockerels are nearly ready for the chop, but will keep you posted.

Spring in our step

I believe that traditionally, it was the farmers wife that made the cheese and butter for the household. Not because it was the easy, no lifting “women’s work”, (as it is very  labour intensive kind of work as I know many of you know) But because milk and such like needs a level of hygiene to be successful. I could not be a cheese-maker, this week, both Harry and I should not be allowed near a vat of milk. Why? well we are in the middle of the birthing season, lambs and chicks at present  A messy old business at times,  however a truly wonderful and uplifting time, a time of renewal and optimism that comes to all of us with the beginning of  Spring. Most farmers time the birth of their animals with spring, when the first flush of green grass appears with all its goodness to feed the adults and young alike. The warmer days and nights help the young to thrive and prosper.

We have had three more lambs born this week, all has gone well, although we were concerned about the cold wind and rain at the beginning of the week. Today is a warm day, and as we walk the fields three times a day,  it is nice to see  mothers catching a moment to feed themselves, whilst the lambs are close by snoozing in the warm sunshine.

The land is still very wet, not helped by the rain this week, but the forecast is good and we must be patient. We are creative with our time and have sowing crops in trays in the greenhouse, so that once we can work the land we shall be off to a good start.

Another fine crop of radish for sale this week, cabbage tops, leeks, and a good selection of green leaves for salad and cooking.  The herbs have loved the rain and warmth and we will have a really nice selection, with a few varieties for fresh herb teas. The tulips perfect and we will have many bunches to sell, really looking forward to picking them and showing them off their beautiful colours on Saturday.