Welcome to the Uncategorized of New Cross Fruit Farm

Retired

William Hebditch - April 11th, 2020.

We have now retired and our land is being farmed by others. We have 10,000,000 beetroot seeds in some of it, about 40 acres worth. Other land is planted to Triticale, wheat and maize. All very different.

Please note that that means we really DO NOT have any Asparagus for sale.

Sorry, can’t think of a polite title!

William Hebditch - May 22nd, 2019.

It’s good that the weather has warmed up. No doubt people will soon be wanting rain. Please could we leave that till after the cherry season? It would be great to go out after a decent cherry year. The better temperatures are revealing what the crops are like. Some of the more choice plum varieties have run off quite badly. Victoria’s not enough.Our Raspberries rather suffered from last years lack of water, the cane growth for this years crop was aweful. We will scavenge some I’m sure. Also very nearly Gooseberry season, another week or so. They’re a bit dry (starchy) at the mo.

I’m loving the reviews of the new Jacob Rees Mogg book. Just shows what sort of fantasist he is. Would be good if he got his history right as well. His masters at Eton must be squirming with embarrassment. I’d still love to know what the Brexiteers actually want. Farages party not even coming up with a manifesto is just spectacular and, no doubt, he’ll get loads of votes. Still feels like turkeys and christmas. This whole situation makes the 3 day weeks in the 70’s, whilst I was revising for A levels, look like a really successful strategy. I’m wondering what to do if Johnson becomes PM, Rees Mogg in the cabinet and add in Gove, Davies, Fox et al in power… time to flee to Jacinda Ardern’s land.

Ravens

William Hebditch - February 13th, 2019.

We have ravens apparently, at least 2 pairs. I wonder if that’s a good or bad omen. My neighbouring twitcher is doing our great farmland bird count. I wonder if we have anything rare?

I know I haven’t written anything for ages, but what has changed with the great Brexit saga. B all, it seems. The only good thing that’s come out of it are the posters put up by “led by donkeys”, check it out on twitter. Nice to be reminded of what our great and good leaders have said over the last few years. Led by donkeys seems to be absolutely right. Where on earth is there any god leadership in any of the Westminster parties? I struggle to understand how our country can be mended of this horrid split. The continuing animosity between the 2 sides is so upsetting. The brexiteers lack of historical knowledge of the Irish situation is extraordinary. The thought of returning to a war in our own backyard is more than scary.

Farming wise, we’re here for the time being. We hope to be able to produce all our crops as usual this year, presuming our Romanians will come back to see us. Crops, bar raspberries look to have good potential. Flower bud is reasonable in quantity and the open autumn really helped. Winter chill is still lacing, but there’s a while to go before we can say winters over.

Bees

William Hebditch - May 30th, 2018.

Sorry, haven’t done very well writing blogs lately. We’ve had some staffing problems, people coming and going, so it’s been all hands to the pump to keep the show going. Sort of classic swan thing, serene on top whilst paddling furiously underneath.

Most of the flowering season is now over and generally we have a fair set of the different fruits. Nothing looks like it will be horribly overcropping but there are definitely heavy crops of the earlier Blackcurrant varieties. Raspberry flowers have been impressive, on the good days they absolutely hum with bees. Mostly bumbles, we buy in extra Bombus terrestris bees and now have quite a large number of wild Bombus hypnorum colonies. Luckily they nest in trees and bird boxes, so out of reach of my black and white friends. Interesting to see how many ground nesting bee colonies we have on the farm. You see the remains of a few beaten up worker bees where the colony has been dug up. Just recently as the honey stores have been built up, the b….rs start digging them out. Ah, but, it’s farmers who kill all the bees…

Of course, honey bees are farmed and only survive with human intervention. If it is economically unviable to maintain bee hives because people aren’t prepared to pay a realistic price for English honey, then hives will not be maintained and bee numbers drop. Doh, simple really.  We do have our own colony of black wild bees on the farm. Magic stuff, love watching them. And they are nicely high up in a tree out of reach.

We have a new cultivar of raspberry with a code number, D3 to us, really early, so we hope to be picking in a couple of weeks. 30 days from flowering to fruit. 90 days for Ben Vane blackcurrants….Folfer cherries are swelling, our first time with this variety.

Maria

William Hebditch - February 24th, 2018.

40 years ago this week I was stuck in Taunton for 4 days due to a blizzard.  I’d been to Lancashire, left on the Sunday in bright sunshine, past Bristol and the M5 became single track weaving through the drifts. Are we going to get snow later this week? The cold we’re supposed to be getting sounds quite awesome, -5 in March, that’s a shocker. At times like these, I’m glad we didn’t take a serious punt on Apricots. Our few trees are showing a bit of colour on the buds. Certainly cannot stand that sort of cold! Apparently Honeyberries can stand it. Well, we’ll see, the first are now in flower.

We have 3 Romanian boys turning up on Wednesday night. Think they’ll have a bit of a shock getting of the plane. Hope we get home before the snow…. We’ll start covering asparagus as soon as possible, so we’re still hoping to cut by April 14th.

Some of you may know Maria Popa, she worked for us a few years ago and then decided to stay in England, making Henry hoovers. Unfortunately, a fortnight ago, whilst back in Romania, she had a car accident and is still in hospital. Our thoughts are with her. It always reminds one of how fragile life can be.

 

Healthy Blackcurrants

William Hebditch - June 22nd, 2017.

What an interesting decision of Mrs May!  The concept of de facto rule by the DUP is a quite surreal thought. Paisley for PM!

I hope it will have a significant affect on Brexit. One get’s the impression that David Davis is not exactly wowing the EU! Of course our concerns are rather selfish, we’d like to continue, at least for a while, producing some pretty good fruit and veg. I hosted a couple of Scottish plant breeders yesterday ( Blackcurrant specialists) but they have a new fairly late red gooseberry with thin skin and superb flavour. I just go ooh, I’d love to try them! Perhaps I’ll get a couple for the garden. I was also trying to see if they had any long strigged Blackcurrants. They breed loads of different crosses for Ribena, most never make the grade for juice, but perhaps there is one lurking that would be good for fresh production. We know how stacked full of good Anthocyanins Blackcurrants are, far better than Blueberries, it’s just being able to harvest them at a realistic cost. Perhaps it’ll be a project for my dotage!

Goosegogs

William Hebditch - May 30th, 2017.

We have just started picking gooseberries, to the sounds of lots of squeaks and yells. It takes a while to get the technique right and avoid the worst of the thorns. The modern varieties are mildew resistant but come with a good crop of spines. Apparently there is a genetic link between the two. We’re picking green Invicta  now, our Xenia, a new early red variety will start soon.

Meanwhile we plug on with Asparagus, but the end is in sight, so please don’t come in July and ask when the Asparagus season starts. We’ll all cry!!

The frosts a couple of weeks back have done some damage, we’ve lost some Victoria plums and have nice frost rings on our Katy apples. luckily they’ll be squashed for cider so cosmetics don’t matter. We hear from other areas that there has been considerable damage to all sorts of crops, also through most of Northern Europe.

I hope everybody is getting excited by the election (yawn). Unfortunately our strong and stable leader still has given us no clues about whether we shall be able to recruit seasonal workers in 2 years time. Having done this job for 39 years I wanted to give up on my terms and not be forced out by a political decision. We shall have to presume that 2018 will be our last year producing lovely fruit and veg for you all unless something is worked out for the post brexit times.

Pigeons

William Hebditch - May 10th, 2017.

Yet another slight frost this morning. I can’t remember frosts this late in May for ages! Looks like we have some damage, which was inevitable, but not enough to cause real concerns.

It’s that time of year when baby fruits disappear into the new growth of leaves and you become quite concerned that there’s nothing there. Then come Derby day you should be able to estimate crop loads quite accurately. Well, that’s the theory. Usually you over estimate after a previous big crop and vice versa. I do know we have plenty of plums and some cherries on a few of the varieties. Concerned about Kordia and Regina, my two absolute favourite varieties, which look a bit light. Trouble is the blessed pigeons like grazing leaves and tiny green cherries particularly on, you guessed it, Kordia and Regina.

Meanwhile Gooseberries are getting bigger, should be picking before the end of May. We’ve a few more Xenia, an early red goosegog which is looking well at present. We’ve also got some trial, coded, raspberries which are looking really early. It will be interesting to see what they are like. The cane is not too brilliant but the baby new cane “spawn” is looking good. Probably need some rain to keep it all going, but it’s lovely to be working in the dry!

Asparagus is still going. We’ve just pulled out of our young patch to let it build up for next season. It’s always rather strange to finish harvesting a field so early. Of course that’s down to a history of apple growing where harvest doesn’t start till autumn.

Easter

William Hebditch - April 14th, 2017.

After that lovely first week of April it’s a pity it’s gone cold again.  The warmth brought lots of flowers forward then they are opening when there is little insect activity to pollinate them. That is particularly true for the cherries, they hate cold winds after flowering. Of course we can’t influence the weather…

All the hard graft of laying our low tunnels over the asparagus pays off with this sort of weather, we’re still cutting on a daily basis, whilst we walk the uncovered areas about every 3 or 4 days!

We will be open over the Easter weekend, barring Saturday as usual.

Oh, we are going to be filmed for a Channel 4 programme next week, a bit about the labour of love that is Asparagus. I’ll keep you informed of when it’s to be aired, if it happens.

Happy Easter to all and sundry!

Easter gras.

William Hebditch - February 9th, 2017.

The east wind does blow, and we shall have snow… Probably not, but it is certainly chilly! David has just come back from Mali, I think he’s trying to climb into the fire! Bit of a change from 35 degrees. It’s rather nice not to be bleating on about winter chill. We’re well on the way to accumulating a sensible total this winter, up to about 1400 hours now, we need 1600 for the currants, but it’s enough for the tree fruits.

We went down to the river parrett yesterday for a stroll. Good to see that the EA have remembered what happened a couple of years ago, they’re keeping the water levels sensibly low at this time of year and have even dredged the main drain to our local pumping station. It must be reassuring for people living on the levels to hear the pumps running. It was surprising how quickly the moors filled up last week with the 3 days of rain. We can see the sea from the back of the farm. Very pretty with the sun on it, but good to see the water going away as well.

We have 4 Romanians returning to the farm in a couple of weeks and we shall start putting low polytunnels over asparagus and rhubarb. Another season starts. I do hope we’ll have ‘gras for easter.