Welcome to the blog

William Hebditch - January 1st, 2012.

New Cross Strawberries

Big tractors

William Hebditch - August 11th, 2019.

Having written previously about giving cherries a death sentence by saying how nice they looked, well, it worked and we lost the Penny crop to cracking. Such is life when you grow them uncovered!

Now we’re onto early apples and hazelnuts and tomorrow harvest our very last crop of blackcurrants. It’ll be a bit of a sad day, New Cross has grown fruit for Ribena for nearly 70 years! Change has to come though. We are having people trying to tell Liz and I what we should be doing with our farm. One kind soul said that she wanted to make a grand gesture in her life so we should donate our remaining orchards to the community. What a selfless person, donating our farm, quite unbelievable actually.

Ian, Liz and I have planted pretty well every tree, bush, crown etc on this patch, and we’ve tended them to the bet of our ability. Perhaps others should consider our feelings about grubbing orchards.We don’t do it lightly, but it is getting harder and harder to make a living on this size farm and certainly not enough to employ a manager to run it for us. So grubbing it is, and then we’ll let land to others who can make something out of it with their big machines and tractors.

Mid July update

William Hebditch - July 18th, 2019.

So far it’s been a benign summer without too many extremes. I know that saying this all hell will break loose and it’ll break all records this year. We have been able to pick some lovely mid season cherries, Kordia and Summersun are wonderful this year. The Regina and Penny look good at the moment, if I haven’t already signed their death warrant.

Several years ago we planted a plum variety called Meritare, picking now and looking a bit Victoria like. What a heap of garbage, splits and rots if it even deigns to crop. Don’t believe what nursery men tell you! No different from the garbage spilling out of the mouths of the tory leadership candidates. They certainly seem to have found the magic money tree. Perhaps they could shake it in the direction of the mere mortals in this country.

I listen and read about the candidates and their spending and Brexit plans with ever increasing incredulity. I think we all need to go on unicorn hunts and see if we can find any. Perhaps Mr Hunt can capture a few more supertankers. I thought that was called piracy. I suppose I’d better catch up with the latest thinking. Why do we want to cross Iran. Is it just to show our fawning allegiance to Trump. Time to head to Tierra del fuego me thinks.

Quiet retirement

William Hebditch - June 20th, 2019.

The wet weather has been very welcome for most of our crops, excepting the early cherries. Blackcurrants are colouring up well and we should start the harvest around the 7th of July, making it an “average” season, timing wise. We’re forecast some warmer weather next week which will be gratefully received if it actually arrives! Almost forgotten what that yellow orb is.

We’re picking some nice raspberries from our rather bedraggled raspberry patch, which really did not like last summers drought. Certainly the worst affected things on the farm.

As the word gets around that we are going to retire from fruit growing, many people seem to think they should tell us what to do. One suggestion was we should donate our orchards to the community, to what end, I have no idea. Today a councillor left a message asking whether we needed to talk about our momentous decision. YOU WHAT? Do we not have the right to retire and decide our own futures? Sorry, I wouldn’t have the gall to tell someone how or what they should do in their later years. If you’re in the shop, don’t bring up the subject with Liz, she nearly decked someone yesterday.

Cherries in June

William Hebditch - June 12th, 2019.

The 12th of June heralds the start of our earliest ever Cherry season. It’s the first time a variety new to us has cropped, called Primulat. Right catchy name that! It’s a bit soft and is no keeper with the current weather, but it’s not bad in flavour and well worth a try!

Don’t think the leadership battle is worth the bother of a comment. The unicorn hunt continues. And of course, F..K business. Say’s it all. Just as well add F..K Britain…

Lets hope summer arrives soon. Some of the outlooks are more promising for a weeks time, we’ll see.

Cockfights

William Hebditch - May 30th, 2019.

Another season continues, we’ve just started picking Gooseberries and will continue with Asparagus and Rhubarb throughout June, unless we get totally fed up at the sight of the stuff! Weather permitting, we may have just a few cherries in the middle of the month. It’s an early french variety which is starting to colour. I can’t recall ever eating Primulat, what a catchy name, soit’ll be interesting to see if it’s any good. We have got a crop of Folfer, another newly bred french cherry, early, big, firm and pretty good flavour. If we were planting today, that’s one I’d really go for.

We buy in bumble bees in plastic hives for pollinating. Unfortunately our black and white friends discovered one lot and totally destroyed them. It’s quite astonishing the number of wild colonies we have on the farm. You can tell by the number of them dug out by brock. On one windbreak line I counted 8 within as many metres. That’s one good thing having Bombus hypnorum on the farm, they’re tree bumblebees and love colonising bird boxes. No doubt the woodpeckers have a go at them, but I can cope with the number of peckers but not with the excess of badgers.

So is a tory leadership battle going to sort out the parties differences? Unlikely I think. Might be better sport than cockfighting. Can anyone outdo Johnson… trying to think of the right words to express my thoughts of gentlemen waving their “parts” about…not a thought that should stay long in the imagination!

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.

Wondrous Rhubarb

William Hebditch - April 28th, 2019.

What a wonderful Easter weekend it was. We had cherries in full bloom as well as several of the blackcurrant varieties. Far too early to be able to tell what sort of crop we may have, although the run off on the plums (that’s when the baby fruitlets fall off) is not sufficient so we’ll probably have to do some thinning. Apple blossom looks and smells nice, always a sign of strong flowers when they have a reasonable pink petal colour and good scent.

Asparagus is growing quite well, bit of a drop now the temperatures have gone down. We’ve recovered some of it to keep prodiucing a reasonable amount. Trouble is, no one likes lifting and replacing covers, it’s slow and dirty work. The sooner we can take them off, the better. Also it’s some of the finest Rhubarb we’ve ever grown. Just gorgeous stewed in the oven, then served with ready made custard and crushed ginger biscuit for texture!

Looks like we may well have to vote for our MEP’s. Glad to see farage is after another term, no doubt that will help his pension along. I have a queasy feeling about wanting out of the EU but still taking a personal pension from it. I suppose I’ll have to stop harrumphing about Brexit. Liz & I will always think it to be an irrational decision.

Six more months

William Hebditch - April 15th, 2019.

The cold easterly winds of the last week or so are doing no one any favours. Various things are in flower or coming into flower and the bees are staying at home. Can’t say I blame then. All the forecasts have lined up to say that Easter will be warmer. Hurrah! Cherries and some Blackcurrants in full bloom by then, we might get some crops!

Plums have finished flowering, but as of yet, there is no “run off”, that is unfertilised flowers dropping off. If every thing that is there at the moment grew into a plum, we’d have a crop of marbles. We only want about 4% of the flowers to form a fruit, so we can loose an aweful lot and still have a full crop.

As some people have heard, we are retiring at the end of this season. It’s my 42nd. year doing this and it’s time to do some other things. Looks like we’ll coincide with the Brexit disaster, if no one manages to kick the can farther down the road. Just wish we had some Irish forebears so we could get a starry passport. Pleased to see the Swiss are rerunning a vote due to misinformation being given to their voters. Remember the bus and Fox’s trade deals?

Still in

William Hebditch - March 30th, 2019.

What a lovely week of weather we’ve had. Allowed us to get all our plastic out into the fields, asparagus, rhubarb and seakale all covered and growing. I hope we’ll start to harvest week beginning the 15th of April.

There is the most fantastic plum blossom this year. In the papers there have been several articles telling of the demise of solitary bees and hoverflies. Just to be contrary, we have had the most immense hatch of solitary bees which have been enjoying the plum blossom. I don’t know why we have had such a population explosion. Sometimes I wish I understood insect demographics, last year we had a crash in the numbers of light brown apple moths, this year the upsurge in little bees and hoverflies. Lots of overwintered Brimstone and Peacock butterflies as well.

Meanwhile the nonsense of brexit continues. Just adore the voting habits of J R-M. He would make an interesting prime minister. I’m sure that would really improve our standing in the world. Oh for some decent politicians!

Life goes on

William Hebditch - March 14th, 2019.

Another week, another shambles. What must the rest of the world think of the UK? What a shambles our politicians are. Oh for a decent opposition. Who on earth does one vote for if and when the next election comes around. Of course, I hope the next election will be to elect our MEP’s. Undoubtedly wishful thinking unless the can gets kicked a bit farther.

Meanwhile the wind blows and we haven’t been ale to deploy much polythene yet. Next week the weather is slated to improve so we should be able to crack on. Buds and flowers are moving quite quickly, so looks like the sprayer will be busy. It seems a strange thing to be spraying flowers in the early spring to protect fruits from rotting in the autumn but that’s what happens. Diseases like Botrytis and Sclerotinia hang around as latent infections till the fruit starts to ripen and then the disease expresses itself and starts to form mycelium and spores and we get rotten horrible fruits! Hence try to control the disease from entering the developing fruitlet through the flowers and the wounds that occur when petals fall. It’s a great way to minimise pesticide residues and actually be more effective than trying to protect the developed fruits.

It will be interesting to see if the asparagus is any earlier than usual. There is a suggestion that a dry September advances asparagus growth. Don’t ask why, nobody knows yet. With some of ours covered we hope to be cutting by mid April. I will keep you informed as to progress. Perhaps something may change with the Brexit saga by then.