Weed Control & Roundup

Over the last couple of months, I had forgotten how grounding growing food is. On a sunny day or sometimes even better on a wet and windy day walking through the crops, or sampling the fresh harvest, leaves you feelingconnected to the land and alive.  It is easy to forget all of this.  
 
These days it’s very difficult to know how the food we eat is actually produced. How could we be expected to know?  Life is so busy, and supermarkets give us a shiny happy reality that is often disconnected from the real food production processeshidden behind the scenes. 

The end of the growing season is a mad rush it always is and just when you think you are finished you discover you are not. We have finished planting, but the weeds have marched on relentlessly. This warm humid weather is ideal for cropgrowth but also for weed growth. 

This year our work apart from one or two mishaps has kept pace with the weeds. But our approach to weed control is notone of total dominance, quite frequently once you get the crops to a certain size the weeds are no longer a problem. 

In fact, they can provide a basis for a wide variety of life: flowering weeds that bees come to, the lush green undergrowth, a haven for a myriad of tiny creatures that would not be there otherwise. 

Thus, in turn providing food for the birds, and at times, the necessary predators such as ladybirds and hoverflies that feed on aphids. A natural ecosystem living below the giant shading leaves of the broccoli plants or cabbages develop. Each plant brings something different to the fray and generally none are unwelcome.

Now please do not misunderstand me, if we did not take a pragmatic approach to weed control and utilise all the tools at our disposal there would be no crops, no food, and no farm. We have worked extremely hard to ensure the crops are healthy and weed control is part of the process. No, our approach is just different, less harsh and embraces the idea that yes, we can work with these other plants, and they too have a place on our farm. 

Conversely conventional farming relies on the iron fist of chemicals to control weeds, there is no room for negotiation here, the chemicals are designed to disrupt metabolic pathways in plants, they are generally systemic in nature (get absorbed into the plant and reside there after application, all the way up the food chain onto our plates), the weeds are removed, and the residues of the chemicals remain in and on the food. Just look at the side of any road sprayed with roundup, it is ugly and yellow and dead. 
 
Using chemicals to fight nature will never work. In the short term it may give a temporary reprieve from a certain disease or pest, but that pest will come back stronger and more resistant next time. It is in a way a self-perpetuating industry.It is not the way and IT IS CERTAINLY NOT OUR WAY.

Organic agriculture is much more than saying no to the use of chemicals, it represents a holistic approach to working with nature, to our land and to our food. It means no chemicals, but it also means no artificial fertiliser, it means tree planting, it means hedge planting, it means allowing nature its place to thrive while also producing food. It means taking care of the soil and it means producing food that tastes fresh and good and crucially is good for us and for the environment.

Here’s to fresh organic food!

Kenneth

PS: It is a strange time, normality is creeping back into our lives, kids are going back to school as are ours, routines if there are ones will be re-established. It has been a strange year, some things are certainly outside of our control, but we can control what we eat. Keeping good healthy fresh food in our fridge, means we are more likely to use it, and this means we will eat healthier and feel better, as we head into autumnaldays this is one sure positive step we can take.

Seeing the Wood for the Trees

This week we got a little card, and the timing could not have been better. 

The weeks when you are at your most desperate, when life seems to be throwing all sorts of everything at you, when it is relentless, those are the days when a little smile or a nod of appreciation can make all the difference. 

It is funny, you push, and you shove, and you try to make things the way you want them, but in the end, life goes its own way anyhow, there is nothing like farming to shatter theillusion that we have some modicum of control over externalevents.

We want things to be a certain way, to go a certain way, to meet our expectations, and it can be a struggle to let go and accept that we have very little control, it is so ingrained in us. We want to be in control.

As the farm has grown, every year springtime seems to bring an increased powerful pressure to get things done, our resilience is tested, the window is short, the weather is always looming in the background, the rain is never far away.

I am impatient to have more done, to have the ground ready, to have the plants in, to the have the seeds sown to have the tunnels full, but this year nature and events is just not accepting of my impatience. Mother nature has given me a rap on the knuckles, ‘all your rushing will achieve very little’ she whispers!

There has been broken machines, endless rain, cold, frost, delayed plants amongst some of the challenges. The more pressure you feel the harder it can be to see the wood for the trees and appreciate what you have, and it is exactly at times like this when you need to take stock the most.

The fields are saturated, the plants are slow, the slugs are abundant, the machines don’t like the wet soil and the soil does not like them. It does more damage that it is worth to bring a tractor onto a wet field. But sometimes you have no choice.

At the very same time, the hawthorn is in full flower and smells amazing, our local fox struts around the farm as if she owns the place. I am nearly sure this morning I had a full conversation with a starling, and maybe this wasn’t the first sign that I am finally losing the plot! What patches of blue sky we see highlight the beauty of the colds and make us appreciate the sun all the more when it finally does come out, and come it will!

Then there is a contented feeling of seeing the first tomatoes on the plants, of seeing the first baby cucumbers of harvesting our first outdoor crops of lettuce and chard and spinach. I guess we can also see more of what we look for. 

The very best moment though this week was receiving this lovely card/poem that was sent through from a family that are doing the Little Green Fingers course. 

This helped make everything worthwhile again, completely unlooked for and yet at the perfect time 😊

So, thank you Orlaith and Gus and thank you universe and thank you our customers.

Kenneth

Sowing the Seeds of Love

These lyrics from ‘Tears for Fears’ may not have been talking about plants, but they do describe activities on the farm this week.

The last seven days have been a stretch on the farm for all sorts of reasons. We are very lucky to have, in every area of our business, strong teams and the farm is no exception.

When you don’t need to ask and yet the lads put in 12-hour days to get the sowing done before the rain you know you have special people. 

In vegetable farming it is about a great many things but right at the top of the list is timing.

Getting the timing right is powerful stuff and the race against the rain in the West of Ireland is always a close call and fraught with uncertainty.

I am relieved that the carrots, parsnips, beetroot, and spinach are all now in the ground. There is more to sow, but the first batches are sown and that has for now stilled the vague buzz of concern at the back of my mind that we will not win the race against the weather.

The first tomatoes, cucumbers and a host of broccolis, cabbages, kales, romanescos and more are all planted and making good progress.

So, we march on, the first weeding is happening the first harvest of new season crops too, our own gorgeous lettuce and spinach, chard, radish parsley and more.

‘Feel the pain, talk about it’ another lyric from the same great song. There has been hard work certainly, pain a little, satisfaction at a job well done for sure. But there is pain in the modern world of food production and we in our own little way we are attempting to set that right.

Although we have been very busy with the work of growing food our care for the land has certainly not been forgotten, the wildflowers, the hedges and wildlife, the trees, the birds and beehives, the pigs and the foxes, the work on those long term valuable investments has already been done in quieter days.

The fruits and benefits of which now we can see.

Every day I am so grateful to be able to do this, I am grateful to you for giving us and our farm the opportunity to thrive.

Your choice to get a box from us is an amazingly positive thing and you should know it is making a difference for you and your families health, and for the health of the planet.

Thank you.

Kenneth

PS: Have you tried our new repeat order system yet? You can set up an order for delivery every week and you can pause it or change it at any time.  So if you need certain things each week why not add them to your regular fruit and veg order and never miss your order deadline again?