Meteorologically, it has been a near perfect spring; a gloriously bright, dry, and sometimes even hot April has allowed us to plough, spread muck, and plant – with just enough frost and chilly easterlies to keep us honest.
Most farmers self-isolate by choice anyway (it comes with the job); add to that the new-found appreciation for food, and I reckon we are the lucky ones. My heart goes out to those locked in flats, especially the young and their care-givers, and to less fortunate businesses.
There is still plenty of moisture in the soil at depth, but newly planted lettuces, pak choi and chard already need irrigation, to help their emerging roots reach the water below. In the polytunnels, the lettuces, rocket, baby chard, claytonia and mustard that we have been harvesting all winter are coming to an end; as temperatures rise and days lengthen, they become hell-bent on reproduction, throwing out seedheads rather than the leaves we want.
With the first tomato plants now arriving, we will spend a manic three weeks ripping out the winter salads, spreading compost, cultivating the soil, and replanting the tunnels with summer crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, chillies, aubergines and peppers.
Outside, this will be the final week for harvesting purple sprouting broccoli, leeks and spring greens, with the last cauliflowers not far behind, before we plunge into the depths of the Hungry Gap and must wait for our newly planted crops to come through.
We have one more week of foraging for wild garlic in some north-facing woods before their leaves go yellow and lose flavour; as the tree leaves above emerge to shade them out and end the season, the plants put their last energy into flowering and forming the bulbs that will carry them through to next spring.
Our farm offices are almost empty, as anyone who can do so adjusts to working from home. As well as the carbon savings of far fewer people driving to work, early signs are that many of us are actually able to get more done. Necessity really is the mother of invention; these changes to our ways of working that could and should have happened anyway have been massively accelerated with, to everyone’s surprise, relative ease.
I hope that when this is all over, we are all more willing to consider embracing other changes that we want and our planet needs, with the same openness that we have embraced these changes which have been forced upon us.