Sunday, 17 May 2009

I have been meaning to start a blog for a long time but never seem to find any time to do so.  Today it is pouring with rain, so hard that I am forced indoors. Even the tunnel is inhospitable. it is hard to believe that one week ago we were in Cornwall in blazing sunshine where I did flowers for a wonderfully eccentric wedding. I hope all will improve before Hay Festival next week where I am giving a talk about small scale cut flower growing, and due to run a day course up here which has been fully booked for weeks so I hope there are flowers to play with! 

In 2006 I bought a cold windy weedy field of old impoverished pastureland and began to cultivate the first acre. In 2007 I started selling flowers at markets and for events, and in 2008 began the mail order business. It was well received so this year I have more than doubled the acreage of intensive cultivation and erected a small commercial tunnel to extend the season. Another three quarters of an acre has just been cultivated and I have sown a cover crop of sunflowers, phacelia, cornflowers and calendula which will try to compete with the undoubtedly huge amount of grass and weeds that will also come through as I didn't spray first. I try to grow without chemicals, but am not officially organic and do not intend to go down the Soil Association accreditation route. 

Today I am feeling guilty and stupid as rows and rows of beautiful about-to-bloom stocks in the tunnel are threatening to drown. I erected my tunnel on a levelled out site on my sloping field, but didn't put it on a raised platform, so drainage on the top side is still a problem despite digging land drains. The rain last night and today on top of three days solid rain has proved just too much for it. I have thrown as much extra compost on to the soil as I can to sop up excess but can't dig any more grit in at this stage. I have a day's course in a week's time here, I just hope I will have flowers to look at and to pick.... outside everything is looking particularly sodden. The joy is that everything will sort itself out over the next few weeks, and flowers will bloom eventually, even if I lose some at this stage. The despair is that perhaps not for next week.... I knew that it was a bit risky organising for visitors to come and pick a good selection of flowers in May, which is a slightly in-between month in any year, but I am usually terrifically optimistic. Perhaps not today!

Gardening on a cold windy slope on clay can be problematic sometimes. But when plants like it, they do fantastically well. I had fabulous tulips again this year, I'm always rather sad when they finish.  

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