Farm News – Autumn 2022.

I am an avid listener of ‘The Regenerative Journey’ podcast, hosted by Charlie Arnott. One of Charlie’s most significant yet simplest pieces of advice is to watch, listen, and observe. His guidance is not to change the land you have until you begin to understand the land you have.

One of my favourite things to do at the farm is to walk the paddocks and the bush. I don’t have a planned-out system, but I do follow my instinct and walk the paddock or area of the bush that calls me, which is a system.

I am noticing that when the sweet chestnuts come out in autumn, the cockatoos arrive, and they make a big mess cracking open the chestnuts, and then the crimson lorikeets clean up after the cockatoos have had their fill. It is a noisy, messy, and captivating time.

I have noticed that last year’s burn pile has already regenerated itself with the native bracken.

I am noticing the different insects that inhabit the house and the order of their arrival; spiders, blowflies, weird indoor ‘caterpillars’ that are black and move like centipedes without all the legs. Let me know if you have a name for them.

I am noticing that the grass keeps growing!!!

My husband Emrys’ focus is to regenerate the bush we are now the custodians of, and we have been chatting to our chapter of Landcare since last year.

About a month ago, we had two members of Landcare come to visit the property; it was inspiring. One of those moments when you realise that an idea has become a tangible action, and there are people who know more than you do who are willing to share their knowledge. The four of us walked into the bush, into the gully area, which is currently a holly plantation filled with holly trees! Yes. Holly trees. Never have I seen holly grow this big in England. I have only seen holly bushes; these things are big as redwoods. To give you an idea of the average size of these trees, one of them took 8 hours to remove!

The chopping down of the holly trees has been done by a professional; removing the trees to the burn pile is our job. We will burn it all off through winter.

In May, we will be the owners of six hundred native saplings (gained from a Landcare grant) to plant in the areas where the holly has been removed. It is incredible to see how different the gully already looks and how much light comes shining through. It will be unrecognisable in a few years.

A group of family and friends plus some Landcare volunteers will plant the saplings in a day. Landcare provides half the labour and expertise, and I’ll provide the food. I’m thinking of a hearty vegetable soup, my youngest’s beautiful homemade bread, followed by a sweet delight; cake or crumble. Why not both, I hear you ask? Why not indeed.

In the last farm news, I shared that Emrys and I managed our first ‘burn off’ fire (with no casualties) and how we high-five each other with each new skill or task we complete.

Since then, we have repaired our first fence. Woohoo!! We went from staring blankly at the fence repair section in the hardware store to working it out by making a few mistakes and then getting it done.

Flower Farm Happenings
One of my goals for the year is ‘to make a marked and visual start to the first flower farm paddock.’ I have chosen a paddock where the stream runs along the bottom, three giant messmate trees guard the paddock, and there are already some established windbreaks in the form of pine trees. But I need more windbreaks; we have severe winds coming from the south, so hedgerows are the first step. As much as I would love to just plant the paddock with the roses and peonies, there is no point; I would risk losing the whole crop.

So, in a few weeks, I will be talking with Todd, the local expert on native hedgerows, but I would hate to give you the impression that I am a native puritan; I am not. Sprinkled among the native hedgerows will be gigantic rambling roses, buddleias (butterfly bush), mock orange, and some other beauties. I am English. I will always be intoxicated by the English Garden aesthetic. No apologies.

Having diverse hedgerows means that while functioning as a windbreak and housing and food for native birds and pollinators, it will also provide beautiful foliage to sell with the flowers.

Finally, last week I ordered A LOT of spring flowering bulbs. I will be planting at the farm and in the city ‘experimental’ garden. The farm will be for the bulbs I know and love; freesias, double tulips, sweet peas, and more daffodils. In the city, I’m experimenting with ranunculus and poppies.

So, If I leave you with one action today, it’s this. Get yourself some spring bulbs if you are in autumn. You only need a pot + soil + bulbs. You will not regret seeing the first hope of spring after a cold dark winter.

Wishing you a weekend of planting the hope of another day.

Kemi xxx

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