All deliveries will be as normal, even on Good Friday, this will ensure there are no disruptions for you and it actually makes it easier for us to manage. If we don't get another newsletter out before Easter, have a great weekend and thank you so much for supporting Shillingford Organics, it is very much appreciated.
I feel I need to further explain about the GoCardless Direct Debit payments. Due to measures beyond our control it can take anything from 5-7 days for a payment to leave your bank account. During this time the payments requested each week, where appropriate, are held in a pending folder on our system but your account will show a zero balance. This does not mean the payment has yet been taken from your bank account. If you cancel your DD Mandate during this pending period the payment will not be taken from your bank and your account with us will go into debit. It is therefore advisable NOT to cancel your DD Mandate until you are sure the payment has been taken. To verify this please contact Bridget in the Admin Office.
Thank goodness for a couple dry days. We took the opportunity at the beginning of the week to move our chicken houses. The ground has just been so wet we have not been able to move the houses. We kept moving the fence to give the chickens new grazing, but that was getting really trodden in. It is such a relief to see them in lots of fresh pasture.
The rain has been relentless since November 1st and before this week I can only recall one day without rain!
We failed to get our broad beans in on November 1st - the ideal day for planting Aquadulce, a winter variety. I kept thinking that we are bound to get a couple rain free days for the soil to dry out enough to plant them. But of course it never happened. So in an act of desperation we planted some at the end of the one dry day - Jan 26th. We managed to scratch them in so most of them were just below the surface, instead of the desired 4". Already a lot have been eaten by birds and mice. Fortunately we have some good plants in the polytunnel.
It is a similar rain affected story with the harvesting of carrots and parsnip. We have a machine which would harvest all our carrots in 1 day – that has remained clean and dry in the shed. We have another machine which we use to ‘undercut’ parsnips or carrots, lifting them 3 rows at a time from 5" deep and leaving them on the surface. We have ventured out a couple times, especially with the parsnips, as they have less tops to pull by hand. However, if the ground is wet it smears the soil, destroying the natural drainage structure. The one time I tried it with the carrots, I undercut them one dry evening; it rained all night. In the morning we went to collect them and the soil was a complete quagmire. We have found that it is easier to fork and pull them out by their leaves, doing very little damage to the soil. Unfortunately, as it is so continuously wet a lot are beginning to rot – a real shame as we like to keep going with freshly dug carrots until late April
It is an interesting exercise to go out to the fields when it is pouring with rain and the ground is so wet, to observe what happens to the water.
If the ground is well covered with grass or other green crop the water drains into the soil until totally saturated. Then there is a film on the surface but there is a very little flow as the grass acts as a buffer.
Where the soil is bare the rain impacts the soil and runs off.
Where the ground is covered by trees the filtration is up to 50 times greater than even a grass field and there is no run off.
Where we have our crops we plant and weed everything by tractor in the summer, keeping to the same wheel tracks. Weeds grow in the autumn and the tracks are covered, but still a little compacted. There is a slight flow of clear water down each ‘wheel track’ which flows into the ruts at the end of the rows. These ruts are made because in the winter we do drive to the field to harvest and bring in the crops and keep to one track around the crops. The water accumulates in the ruts, building as it runs down the length of the field. This flow of water is then powerful enough to erode the soil and by the time the rutted track gets to the gateway to the lane there is, for want of a better description, a torrent of brown water.
The issues around flooding and water runoff were featured on Country File last Sunday 21st Feb and by George Monbiot and his campaign for ‘Rewilding’.
I ordered a sheet for one of our polytunnels. The original sheet was old and ripped. On Monday 15th during storm Imogen a gust of wind came and ripped off the whole sheet, leaving it spread across the field hedge! The new sheet has arrived and the next calm day we will recover the tunnel. The salad crops in the tunnel are looking decidedly shocked!