It’s been quite warm for February. With the cost of heating the house being incredible, thank goodness! The bad news is that the parsnips thought it was time to grow again so had to be processed and frozen. The good news is we’ll have some nice daffs around for St David’s day.
St David’s day, 1st March, is when people in Wales buy little plastic daffodil badges to wear on their coat from the filling station. (JOKE!) When we came to Wales getting our daffodils flowering for St David’s was very hit and miss but here we are with a week to go and some are out, others about to flower.
Weeded around the rhubarb and planted three raspberry canes behind them by the fence. The soil is quite rich but a little acid, so a good sprinkling of lime to sweeten it.
I chose Joan J from Suttons. They’re one of the best raspberries for my money and they have the RHS Award of Garden Merit which is always a good recommendation.
Polytunnel Centre Bed
The centre bed of the poly is where I’ll be growing sweetcorn and climbing French beans. Sweetcorn is a pretty hungry crop so needs a rich soil. Topped up the bed with a couple of inches thick layer of the well rotted sheep manure.
Before spreading the manure opened the soil with a fork. Just push the fork in and rock back and forth to hump the soil and make cracks. The manure will percolate down over the season.
Beefed up the brassica tunnel to stop the rabbits getting in as they did last year, eating nearly all my Brussels sprouts. Run rabbit, run rabbit..
Salad and Egg & Meat Shortages
At times I do wonder at the British media. They’re so busy grinding political axes that actual truth is often hard to hear in the noise. The truth is we’re going to have tight supplies of salad crops until mid-April. That’s assuming the fools who think it clever to panic buy lettuces don’t!
The fact is that producing greenhouse crops like tomatoes in the UK in winter requires heating and lighting. Energy prices shot up but the government decided not to subsidise the growers. The supermarkets refused to pay high prices for the produce as they could buy it much cheaper from Morocco and Spain.
So the British growers decided not to grow crops they would lose money on and didn’t plant anything. Then a really cold winter strikes North Africa and Southern Europe with snow cutting off dozens of villages in Morocco. Oops – sorry British supermarkets, there’s no cheap salad crop coming.
Interestingly some countries like France apparently have little shortage but on average they’re paying €3.81 (£3.35) per kilo against the UK’s £2.17 when available. So our food is cheaper, but you can’t get it!
Eggs and Chicken Meat
With eggs and chicken meat it’s a perfect storm. Increased feed costs and avian flu problems have pushed a lot of farmers into giving up. High risks with no profit to be made even if things go well. Once again the supermarkets’ attitude was to think they could buy in cheaply from abroad but this problem is global. Oops.
Unlike a salad crop that goes from seed to plate in weeks, ramping back up egg and meat chicken production takes years. The whole supply chain has contracted so before we get eggs someone has to supply hens. And the hens need fertile eggs which means breeding hens need to be bred.
This commercial arable farmer explains it rather well. Follow this link to a video from Harry’s Farm on Youtube– it starts at 9 minutes in when he reaches food shortages.