The start of March heralds much thought, optimism and work on the farm and with just 10 days till the Spring equinox we know that the never ending job list is about to get a lot bigger. The heated benches of our propagation house are already full to bursting and poly low tunnels are popping up across site as we try to warm the soil and dry it out so we can begin transplanting and direct sowing.
Despite all the looking forward and planning ahead I was walking around Oakcroft the other day thinking about what we achieved last year and realised that I can hardly recognise the site we took on just 13 months ago. This isn't to say that there is not plenty more work to do, what we achieved last year barely scratched the surface of what need doing here at Oakcoft but there are plenty of positives to look back on.
Over the next couple of weeks I thought thought I’d share some of the progress we've made.
Here is part 1;
Oakcoft Gardens was set up in the early 1960s by Mehr Fardoonji, since its creation it has been grown on organically, making one of the oldest organic sites in the UK.
Mehr retired 11 year ago and since that time the site had fallen in to quite poor repair, we could see this on some of our early trips to the farm but it wasn't until we really got going that we understood all the problems that were going to face us in the year to come.
There was an unbelievable amount of clearing up and clearing out that needed to be done, one of our first tasks was to empty the barn of years and years worth of rubbish, this was quite the task and along with several giant skips there were some seriously big bonfires. The barn is now our packing shed and after the apple harvest we turn it in to a cider making space and a skittle ally.
After the barn was sorted we set to cleaning out other spaces on the site, as you can see from the pictures below there was a lot of crap across all the workshops and greenhouses.
As we got all Zen about our cleaning and clearing efforts the weather was slowly staring to get better and we began to tackle the greenhouses. We were pretty sure there would be some decent soil in these, however they was some serious work to be done to get to it.
What we discovered was an unbelievable infestation of dock leaves across the greenhouses with some of the roots over a meter long!
But we stuck with it and managed to get down to that sweet soil and had a fairly productive tomato crop last year. This year we hope double our tomato harvest as we won't be quite so behind getting our crops in the ground.
Tune in next week for a look at how we got on breaking ground on the main growing area and tackling the next mountain of jobs!