Now the seasonal harvest from the field has dwindled, the time is ripe for us to catch up with other jobs around The Farm and get ready for the spring.One of the biggest tasks this winter is to rebuild our oldest polytunnel, 'Harry’, who is now in a very sorry state, after a repeated buffeting by high winds. This polytunnel was the very first structure on the field when organic growing started here, back in 2010. Why is it called Harry? Our Community Farmer, Ian, started referring to our original three polytunnels as Tom, Dick and Harry, in homage to the film The Great Escape, and the name has stuck!
Over the years, storm winds have started to lift Harry’s hoops out of the ground and have progressively torn open our repairs, and then the re-repairs, of the plastic cover. The last bout of 50mph winds in early December, was the final straw for the tattered plastic cover; half of it has gone and most of the tunnel is now wide open to the elements.
The rebuild of Harry will start in the New Year, weather permitting. If all goes to plan, Harry will look like new and will be ready for re-planting by February or March. It’s a major undertaking that will take several weeks of work; all 16 hoops need to be re-fixed into the ground with concrete, and a 90ft width of brand new plastic cover then needs to be stretched over them. All of the woodwork, the side ventilation and the doors, will then need to be remade and refitted.
The winter crops in the other polytunnels are all looking good and are still safe from the cold winds. This season, the tomato and chilli crops were so prolific and went on for so long, that we extended their picking right through until the first week of November - three or four weeks longer than usual. We replanted those polytunnels with salads immediately after the tomatoes and chillies came to an end. Planting in November means that they take longer to grow to a good size due to the reduced light levels on winter days. This means we’ll have more salad than usual from January to March, so you’ll be seeing plenty of colourful winter salad bags in your veg boxes.
This winter we’re excited to have planted our first ever rhubarb crop too. It’s a long term endeavour. You cannot harvest any stalks during the first growing season as your plants need to become established. But we’re looking forward to plenty of rhubarb crumbles in 2019!
EventsJust because our crops are slowing down, doesn’t mean we have to. Quite the contrary, it gives us more time to plan exciting events. Here’s some of what we’ve got coming up this winter.
? Wassail - 27 January
Sing, dance and toast to the health of our apple trees around a fire.
? Half-Term Farm School - 15 February
Let your kids get muddy with pond-dipping, mini-beast hunting and general farm frolics!
? Half-Term Forest School - 16 February
Children discover the woodland, harvest natural materials and learn how to use hand-tools for their own woodcraft project.
? Foraging Workshop - 10 March
Explore the hedgerows, learning what's in season and good to eat right now.