It has been the worst start to the year that we have had since becoming market gardeners in 2010.

Lots of rain (plus snow), and a cold spring has meant that we have had a very late start to the season – probably a month later than normal. It has been an exceptionally stressful start to the year, but things finally started sorting themselves out by the middle of May. We have had some interesting struggles with nature this year, from badgers to jackdaws and woodlice to rats, along with one of our polytunnels flooding when another one is watered 60 metres away.

Anyway, enough of all this moaning. We were finally revelling in the balmy conditions of Spring with an excellent month of May. This meant that we could rush around catching up on all of the cultivating and planting that was delayed by the wet conditions. Some crops will be a little behind, but plants are in and looking healthy. We have 15 varieties of tomatoes planted in the big tunnel which are growing strongly after being attacked by woodlice after planting. Cucumbers are producing after sitting in waterlogged soil for their first week (not ideal for any of the cucurbit family). Sugarsnaps continue to provide us with peas despite the jackdaw attacks.

This year we are taking composting more seriously. The soil is after all the thing that provides much of what the crops require, and if looked after can provide habitat to a huge variety of organisms. By making good compost and adding it to our soil we can improve the conditions as well as inoculating the soil with the microbes that make nutrients available to the crops that we grow. We have coppiced the willow field and will be chipping this to make more of our own compost, along with the manure from the cow barns, and all of the vegetable waste from the garden. We are also looking at working with local tree surgeons to take their woodchip and thatchers to take the old thatch that is otherwise just burnt. All of this will be composted in a long windrow and turned with our digger to make a compost rich with microbes that we then use to mulch the beds. A soil full of life will be more resilient to the vagaries of the weather, as it will both drain better when wet, as well as hold moisture well when dry.

With most of the garden planted up let’s hope for a proper long sunny summer, with the odd shower overnight to keep things watered.

Ash and Kate have created a vegetable growing enterprise, Trill Farm Garden at Trill Farm, supplying the Old Dairy Kitchen as well as neighbouring restaurants with fresh, seasonal, varied produce.