4 May 2023
So far this year, we’ve sold every single stem we’ve grown on the farm, which is an absolute dream come true.
March and April were a whirlwind of tulips, poppies, ranunculus and our fancy daffs (those white ones, oof). We’ve also seen some absolutely incredible customer photos of our flowers in your homes which always makes our day. Tulips are definitely April’s focus flower but now we’re in to May, they have come to an abrupt end. We’ve been blown away by them this year – there really is just no comparison to the tulips in the supermarket. These stunning heirloom varieties come in at 50cm and taller, with huge heads in the most beautiful colours. It’s also been our first year of sending out field flowers subscriptions that people set up as Christmas presents and it’s been a roaring success. We’ll be doing some work on the website this year to make setting these up slicker and easier, so watch this space.
Our first succession of ranunculus are now coming to an end. These are the ones we planted in the polytunnel to get a jump on the season and be able to send out as soon as we could. Our second succession, planted outside, are just starting now and although the ones in the polytunnel were great, the difference between these and the outdoor ranunculus is remarkable. They’re grown from the same corms but ranunculus love cooler temperatures, so that’s one huge benefit of the cold, wet spring we’ve had! Their heads are huge and the stems are strong and healthy. We’re so pleased that this second succession has worked really well for us this year as it’s such an important flower for us; not only are they one of our favourites (despite how fussy they are to grow), when you get it right, they reward you with the most beautiful variety of colours, patterns and shapes, with such an impressive vase life. They really are the crown jewels of spring.
We were previously worried we may have wasted some polytunnel space with our Sweet William but now they are flowering we know our worries were misplaced. With stems growing to 50/60cm tall and 10cm diamater heads, we’ve never seen Sweet William like this and we’ve also decided they smell like fresh laundry. Our hardy annuals are just starting to flower – cornflower, clary sage, agrostemma – as well as our biennial sweet rocket, which will be going in to our farm bouquets.
As ever, it’s not all been a fairytale. It’s been a challenge to plant out recently – our top field is very exposed and the biting wind has been brutal on new seedlings, despite being covered. There is only so long a baby plant can hack it in a cell tray so we have to acclimatise them in the cold frame and then get on with the show and get them in the ground. You can’t plan the weather and the long, cold spring is very hard on new transplants. We’ve also lost many asters and phlox to slugs, which have been a real issue for us this year. We’ve learned the hard lesson that chicory and potatoes (from the field’s previous life) don’t give two hoots about landscape fabric and as such we have a whole bed that needs digging up to remove the potatoes and the roots. The pigs are loving it! Embarrassingly, we actually planted chicory as part of the herbal lay, which was the first step in preparing the beds for planting – their tuber roots store lots of nutrients in the soil. Then we let the animals graze, munch and poop on that land, before adding no dig beds and landscape fabric for weed control. The chicory has come up through the no dig beds and then the landscape fabric, seemingly only needing pinpricks of light to thrive. Sigh.
However, in moments like that, we remind ourselves that the first time we sowed a seed was 3 years ago. All we can do is keep researching and keep experimenting with bed layouts, mulching, weed suppressants – what works on one field, doesn’t work on another. We sometimes fail but we always learn.
A key take away from the start of our season is that there is enormous demand for those early spring flowers; the excitement that winter is over but gardens aren’t quite in flower yet. We’ve had such amazing feedback so far that we plan to double the tulips and ranunculus we plant for next year so we can offer our customers British flowers as early as we possibly can.Back to blog