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Life in Lincolnshire Part III More Farms More Food

Never has it been more important to have an understanding and compassion for the surrounding countryside, with the severe issues currently being faced by our farmers.

Flat Lincolnshire Fens In Summer
Lincolnshire has farming roots in its ancestry, the county is predominantly fertile fenlands, and so like clockwork each year the land transforms and changes. from puddled, muddy furrows, to acres of luscious crops of wheat, legumes and root vegetables. Lincolnshire has a slower pace of life, usually because farm machinery is being moved about, from the nippy tractors with trailers full of produce off to the processing plants; to the massive combines signalling the height of harvest time. Either way, there is always

something going on and with the first warm dry day this month, I have been out in the garden preparing for the first seed sowings.

Wildflower Lincolnshire Fens And Dykes

Having an organic cottage garden means there are jobs to do all year round. I do not rely on slow-release pesticides or fertilisers so whenever it is dry in January and February I am

Victorian Cottage Garden
out winter washing my roses and fruit trees with a homemade bi-carb and tea spray concoction. As it is organic and easily washed away I put a little liquid soap in the mix, but after every rain shower, it needs reapplying to be fully effective. This is time-consuming and a right pain, but for fabulous roses and wonderful, bug-free apples, the effort is worth it. We have bee hives situated in the orchard next door (photo further on), which is also organic, so I can't put chemicals on the garden.

As yellow aconite carpets my wooded wilderness, with dwarf daffodils and snowdrops in clumps with crocus and primulas pocking out above, it is time to start paying attention as things start to spring to life. Keeping an eye on the weather for wind, rain and cold,

Primroses and Hellebores
watching out for the first sign of pests, like my primulas being nibbled on and making notes of key jobs that need to be done, means gradually my time in the garden will increase. It is the perfect time to move bushes before they awake, like fuchsias and anything that flowers after mid-summer. Rightly or wrongly I was once told by a farmer funnily enough, if moving plants, mid-summer is the key point. Flowering before mid-summer can be moved that year and flowering after mid-summer should be moved in early spring.

Along with spraying my winter wash I also scatter crushed eggshells, thanks to our chickens, around my primulas as the slugs don't like to slide over the sharp edges. Eggshells are great for hostas too!

Raised Vegetable Beds
We have three vegetable beds that throughout winter I had been layering with bunny poopy bedding and kitchen waste such as tea bags and coffee grains. Care for the soil is far more important than people realise! As the day was so nice I have been out for some local compost so I can put a three-inch layer on top of the beds. Locally there are hundreds of enormous greenhouse farms growing seedlings for the farming industry and through my connections from delivering parcels to these places, I

was told I could take used, waste compost from one of these greenhouse farms. Twice a year I bag up maybe 12 animal feed bags of compost, barely making a dent in the waste pile, but eternally grateful as it gives my slightly sandy soil and patches of clay soil great texture. One time there were a load of discarded seeds in the compost and I had all sorts of pumpkins and courgettes grow to enormous sizes! Very exciting but the tomatoes were a bit cross with the lack of space!

Lincolnshire Fens In Summertime

Being a courier in Lincolnshire you become aware that more farms would mean more food and you become aware of how the farming community is a close-knit set of cogs, reliant on each other and external, uncontrollable factors. Many times I would have an urgent delivery for one of the food processing plants because a pea or carrot machine had broken or the label makers had a special run, and I had the new parts. I have delivered and

Lincolnshire Fens Wildflower Meadow
collected from much of farming's community, from farmers' Christmas hampers; to nationwide samples of soil for analysis in special labs. I loved collecting the hampers, filled with meats, dairy, chutneys, homemade biscuits and bottles of booze and whilst delivering grubby broken boxes of soil samples for analysis was heavy and dirty work, hearing what they did was fascinating.

Lincolnshire is famous not just for serious
contributions to the Industrial Revolution
(see my blog about Boston) but for its agricultural commitment to this nation that continues today. I have delivered cans of seed worth thousands of pounds and a few weeks later seen the little seedlings going out to the fields. I have collected huge bags of wildflower seed to be sown as wildflower meadows and even collected from the place that grows the turf for premier football grounds like Wembley. The vast array of farming in Lincolnshire alone is incredible, but once you factor in the whole industry of support as well, you have to wonder how there's enough room for everything and adequate time to get it all done!

Tropical Jungle Vegetable Beds
Loving to garden as I do, the frustrations for farmers are equal but amplified. We all pray for sunshine, rain showers and only light frosts but how much joy would be taken away from gardening, if like farmers there was the grind of the current legislations and issues? Whilst this blog is a continuation of my studies into Lincolnshire life, a world I am embroiled in and really love, I am taking this opportunity to show my support for the farmers. It is a worldwide thing happening right now and put simply, no

farmers no food!! I personally need a farmer at least 3 times a day, another if I'm putting milk in my tea and two more if I'm sneaking a bit of cheese with an apple! I have roughly worked out I have had approximately 100,000 meals in my lifetime so far. Maybe 5-10 farmers made each meal, so a million farmers have got me to where I am right now!

Making Hay Whilst The Sun Was Shining
I have worked really closely with the farming community throughout my life, whether it was while I worked with horses on and off from the age of 6, working on a fruit farm in Hertfordshire or delivering to the farming community of Lincolnshire for 20 years. Rain or shine, early mornings and late nights, Christmas days and anniversaries are all just another day on the farm. Perhaps it is time to reflect and recognise that credit is well overdue to farmers. Whilst farming is an actual regular part of my day because I am

surrounded by it and it passes my house continuously, plus the meadow is mowed by a farmer with his massive farm machinery so my experience is first-hand, the current situation has got me thinking about just how far the farming community stretches.

Beehive In A Blossoming Apple Orchard
Looking at what is involved just to keep a few personal beehives, it is mindboggling when you consider all the people involved with farming. Even for a moderately small farm; there are the guys selling and fixing tractors and machinery, plus all involved in recovery assistance; all the engineers crafting bespoke machine parts, plus all the companies supplying the engineers; there are the seed suppliers, greenhouse makers and growers, plus fertilizer and insecticide suppliers; there are the plastic seed tray makers and the sack and bag

people!! There are the weeders and waterers until harvest time when pickers and packers sort the produce; tractors with trailers and teams of truckers transfer produce to packing, processing and storage plants! There are the sons and mums who step up at peak times and the friends and family who pick up the slack! The whole operation is enormous with a

Victorian Country Cottage Garden

supporting cast of hundreds. The collective knowledge of the countryside this group of society understands cannot be taught to the same level as ancestral knowledge passed down over the decades. If we lose our farmers, we also lose the knowledge given to us from the beginning of civilization. Farming created hamlets, then villages, to trading towns and cities. Civilization began with a farmer and it will end without farmers.

Support your local farmers, orchards, dairies and fisheries!

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