Spring update from Dagenham Farm
Tuesday, 29th March 2022 by Alice Holden
seedlings dagenhma farm

Things are stirring on the farm after a quiet, cold wait for spring. Just after Valentine's Day we passed through to the period in the year where we get over ten hours light in a day. As plants are largely made from capturing light this makes a big difference on the farm. And now we've surpassed the Spring Equinox, the daylight hours are up to 12 hours per day and the plants are rapidly growing, peach blossom is pink against blue skies and the propagation benches are full of trays of green shoots- lettuce, spinach, salad greens and herbs. These greens will give us a boost to get us through to summer, when after six months care, the tomatoes will finally fruit. 

As I uncover sleeping beds I’ve found lots of toads, always a positive sign that the eco system is healthy and helping balance the predators with pests. The toads help me by eating slugs, which is a huge relief after the devastation of last year's surge in slug populations! Other good company include the starlings, a woodpecker and a very friendly robin who works with me all day.

The farm beds are looking very tidy but the many surrounding parts of the farm are beautifully in contrast with their wildness. There are abundant brambles, nettles and many other weeds, plants that we've perhaps been taught to see as the enemy of gardeners. But these plants are some of the best for insect and bird life that are so rapidly in decline and that give habitat to predators that help me balance out any crop pests. In the past I've worried about plants such as brambles and nettles but as long as they are not on my production beds I'm learning to be more grateful to what they provide other life on the farm. I recently found out that brambles and nettles are some of the best plants for many of our butterflies. The weeds are necessary for the nature we love.  Wild bits offset the tidy parts and making up the whole and this can be one of the joys of organic farms. 

 

Author name: 
Alice Holden