Winter on the farm

I’m often asked “what happens in the winter on the farm?”. Partly it’s delivered with curiousness, and partly with disbelief that there would be more than a morning’s work a week to do! Well, dear reader I can assure you that there’s plenty to keep me going in the winter and by this time of year I get a bit stressed about the forthcoming growing season and not being prepared!

Firstly there’s seaweeding, which takes places mostly in November and December as soon as the first storms have brought some in to Lawrences Beach.

This goes on to about one third to a half of the veg fields, plus a bit more for making compost. It’s a valuable and free commodity, but takes a lot of effort to collect up and spread on the fields. But this forms the basis of a fertile growing system on these very sandy soils.

Next up for the big jobs is hedge cutting. We cut our Euonymous and Pittosporum hedges on the farm on a three year rotation. This ensures that (a) there isn’t to much to do in one year, and (b) there is a variation in hedge size and density for nesting birds. We have about 3/4 mile of hedges on the farm!

Every Saturday we pick veg for locals, which can include salad, kale, chard, cauliflowers, purple sprouting, squash, carrots, spinach, parsley and other things. This helps everyone not to get scurvy on the island!

As soon as we get in to January then it’s time to start sowing, planting and drilling new crops. So we have to make sure there are enough seeds in, compost is ordered, seed potatoes arrive in time, etc. 

Then there’s pruning, woodland management, scrub management, grass cutting, grafting, paper work, various office jobs, machinery maintenance, etc, etc. 

As you can see winters are far from slack! 

Jonathan Smith

I started Scilly Organics in 2003, and it was the first certified organic farm on the Islands. We continue to supply the highest quality fruit and vegetables, available fresh on our stall and at certain eateries on Scilly.