A personal account by Paula Tamaki, FarmStart trainee.

May brought many challenges at The Plot, not just to the growing conditions of our fruit, veg and herbs, but also for our choice of clothing!! From a forecast of glorious sunshine, pounding hail, or northerly ice-cold winds, you didn’t know whether to don long johns or to peel off down to a t-shirt! It was often in the same day too! It seemed so long without rain and the more milder favourable temperatures.

Clearly this was a challenge for the growth of our crops, which is without saying, of more concern to us than what we wore. Still, it summarises the variety of weather and the very real challenges it poses to both the growing and the growers. But the work must go on! Preparing beds, planting out and sowing, watering, raking, hoeing, covering, un-covering, and pouring on liquid nettle feed (which I learned by experience is a very ‘aromatic’ substance that seems to follow you home!).

To accompany our what could seem to be monotonous breaking up of the hard clods to rid the beds of grass growth, we would break out into song. Changing the wording to more entertaining farm-appropriate lyrics. “Hoe, hoe, we’re raking on a prayer” or, “This is tiller” and, “Nothing you can say can take me away from my fork”. Preparing beds for planting has never been such fun!

But just maybe, the sweeter musicians are the birds around us! The curlew, lapwing, and swallow, among others, accompanying the sowing and planting of a great variety of nourishing produce such as pea shoots, lettuce, spinach, salad brassicas, kale, radish, turnip, leeks, various herbs, soft fruit, and we are thrilled that our grafted apple trees are becoming established, and the once brown beds are now painting a canvas of delicious-looking shades of green, reds and purples.

Volunteers’ help at the farm has been so appreciated, especially in getting the fencing up to support the peas, adding manpower, speed and more friendly faces.

Work at the poly tunnel too has progressed significantly, with the preparation of the soil, planting of tomatoes, courgettes and beans, alongside our various seedlings in pots waiting to be planted out and also for sale at market, which has already proved successful! Cables have been attached and strings hung for plant support, woodchip pathways laid, and rows of plants now getting on with providing delicious food. This is what it’s all about!

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