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William Hebditch - January 1st, 2012.

New Cross Strawberries

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.

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.

Aphid control

William Hebditch - October 6th, 2018.

It’s been a long time since I last wrote anything, my apologies.  Well, our season has come to an end. The lovely dry weather has been a real boon, so much easier harvesting with the sun on your back rather than the rain. Fruit quality has been good, quantity a bit down due to the rotten spring but sugars and solid matter content high. We even had blackcurrant berries with over 20% sugars, awesome. After a very difficult start with our staff, issuing more P45’s than ever before, we ended up with a nice group of hardworking Romanians. Said goodbye to the last 2 today.

It’s a real autumnal look out of the window today, cold wet and windy, leaves flying all over the place. Liz laid some turf yesterday, so the rain is very welcome for that. I wonder if we’ll have another explosion of field mushrooms next week? I’ve been doing a lot of spraying recently and have driven over more ‘shrooms than I’ve seen for ages. If they come up again it will definitely be mushroom soup time.  It is amazing how spraying for aphids in the autumn has become the norm. All down to careful investigation into aphids flight habits. Most of the aphids that are pests on our perennial crops have an alternative summer host plant. They return to breed and lay overwintering eggs on the woody plants. As there is no new leaf growth, they don’t cause leaves to curl up and so are a much easier target for us to spray. The chemical residues disappear before the next year and we don’t have problems during the flowering period when the little blighters are most active and causing maximum damage. A good result for us peasants.

We’re still wondering what on earth will happen with the ghastly Brexit thing. Will we be able to get pickers next year? We at least have a trial SAWs scheme again, but only 2500 people not the 60,000 required by British agriculture. I suppose it’s a start, but of no use to us in the next couple of years. I endlessly wonder who mends Rees Mogg’s cars, delivers his parcels, does his plumbing, building works, cares for elderly relations let alone produce his food. Oh, but of course, he’s taking his money offshore. He’s taking back control I suppose! I recently read an article which claimed Brexit is already costing £500m per week. What was that slogan on the bus?

Regaining Sovereignty

William Hebditch - August 16th, 2018.

The hot summer seems to be fading. Nice to see a drop of rain, at least the lawn has greened up. I hope it doesn’t go into overtime and rain like last year.

The dry weather has been a bit of a boon for us, our very first dry cherry season. Actually picked Sweetheart cherries for the first and probably the last time in my career. We’re suffering from the effects of a cold wet spring. It’s so easy to forget how horrid it was back in April and early May when things were in flower. The lack of pollination weather, no insect activity all things that reduced fruit set and hence smaller crops. For us, fruit size has not been a problem and sugar levels are high making for nice quality eating fruit.

It will be interesting to see what our politicians can conjure up in the next 8 months. Will they sort out a brexit plan. Looking horribly unlikely at the moment.  If there’s no deal will the collapsing pound do us good or ill, good for our prices, disastrous trying to get workers from europe.  I don’t think many of us would stand the de facto wage cut our Romanians have taken over the last 2 years.

I wonder why the Brexiteers have gone so quiet about the £350,000,000 per week for the health service or even the 80 million Turks who were supposed to be queuing up to come here. For that matter why has the government not published all the analysis done on the likely effects o our economy?  Our government has certainly taken back control, what off, I’m not sure.

I’ll stop ranting and go and put away some more Victorias in the cold store.