I love this time of year when Spring has sprung, nature starts to wake up; blossom and leaves start appearing on trees and hedges, birds sing, the countryside has a lovely fresh smell and everything starts feeling a little more pleasant. At last we are able to get on with some real farm work as it is full steam ahead with spring work. We have started planting our spring crops, with the beans going in. The rapeseed is really growing quickly now as weather warms and days lengthen; it is literally growing in front of my eyes, as last week alone it doubled in height.

Marvin, our latest recruit on the farm is finding his feet quickly as I throw him in at the deep end. Currently he is putting fertiliser on the rapeseed to ensure it has a nutritious diet to maintain its strong growth. Fertiliser is food for plants. Like us, all plants require food, with a balanced diet being vital to healthy living. We give the crops a mixed diet of nutrition to include Nitrogen, which forms the building blocks of protein; Sulphur to help make healthy oil; Manganese to help the chlorophyll work efficiently and so on.

Much of a plant’s need is gained from what is in the soil. We analyse what the soil has and balance this with the extra parts the crop needs. Over time I need to ensure I am not mining the soil, but putting back what the crop takes out, as well as looking after all the bacteria and organic matter that work in symbiosis with the plants to create a healthy and sustainable system. As gardeners know, it’s all part of a great big jigsaw puzzle trying to get the balance right.

Looking ahead to June 8th, we are starting preparations for Open Farm Sunday, in which around 400 farms nationwide open their gates to welcome the public and show what we get up to in growing food for the nation. It is an event I thoroughly enjoy organising, with the help of our neighbours. We try to put on a great free family day out here at Bottom Farm, with farm walks, farm machinery, livestock, local food to try and so on. If you are interested please look at the website for more information www.farmsunday.org