Spring has started and it’s time to catch up with Dr Paul Richards, founder of Herbfarmacy, to explore what’s going on at the farm.
Unlike last year, we’ve just enjoyed a very mild Winter. At one point we were concerned that the weather through the Winter months had been so dry that the herbs would struggle . However, the storms at the end of February and into March soon rectified that and ensured ground water levels are now where they should be. Those storms also meant that we had a busy few weeks cutting back hedgerows and repairing damage caused by the strong winds. Now, though, the ground is fully prepared for the growing season to come.
That work is already starting to pay off as, with the warmer weather and longer days, we’re seeing signs of strong growth across the farm. We’re particularly pleased that the Astragalus (or milk vetch) that we planted last year, a herb that we’ve tried growing on previous occasions without much success, has developed really well this Spring; we’re hopeful of a good harvest of the root later in the year. We don’t always use every herb that we grow in our skincare range, but we enjoy growing them anyway! It helps ensure diversity for wildlife, provides variety to help prevent the spread of plant threats and allows the soil quality to improve.
Meanwhile, seeds planted just a few weeks ago are already germinating well. Perhaps inevitably, the dandelions (yes, we deliberately grow them from seed!) are looking particularly strong!
It’s well known that, for many people, working with nature can be incredibly rewarding. Whether it’s being outside, in fresh air (and sometimes a bit of sunshine) or just the feeling of jobs well done and knowing that the benefit of that labour will be a blaze of new growth in just a few weeks. April is Stress Awareness Month and, working at the Farm, we’re fortunate. Watching small birds dart around the windows-frames, just inches from where we’re working, looking for insects Or just admiring the miracle of plant growth, is all wonderfully relaxing. Coffee and lunch breaks can become very protracted!
This year we’ve started to develop a wildlife meadow. For some time we’ve had a field, just outside the old goat shed, that we’ve not used much: it’s been left fallow but, untended, started to look a bit sad and forlorn. We’ve wanted to give it focus for some time so, in our spare time, it’s been cleared, the hedgerows opened up and drainage improved. It will be interesting to see what plants and wildlife make it their home this summer.