The Wildlife Trusts are very luck to receive donations from Vine House Farm every time you purchase bird feed from them!
Vine House Farm is about farming in a way that encourages wildlife and the wide range of habitats it needs: growing seed specifically for bird food.
What's more, they directly support The Wildlife Trusts and give 5% of sales to us. So if you're looking t pick up some sustainable bird food, visit Vine House Farm
What's Happening On The Farm
The crops we planted last autumn are romping away, we have never seen oil seed rape in flower in March before. Reed Buntings are already taking up territory in the rape fields.
With fine weather forecasted, by the time you read this we will be planting potatoes and drilling sugar beet. There’s a lot of research each year into trying to find potato varieties that yield, taste, look and cook better. I believe that today’s varieties do all of those things and so we must move with the times. Sadly, those farmers who do not move with the times go backwards and eventually go out of business. So again, we will not be planting one of my favourite varieties - the King Edward. We used to get a price premium for them as they did not yield as well as other modern varieties. Sadly this does not happen very often now, so they are not as profitable as other varieties to grow. Instead we will be trying two new varieties, called Nectar and Tyson.
Potato planting forty years ago used to take every man on the farm. There would be two or three tractors preparing the ground before the planter, another tractor would be applying fertiliser and two or three people bringing the seed potatoes to the field, from the glasshouse. We used to have a three row planter and it would need three people to place the potatoes in each cup of the planter which, of course, was pulled by yet another tractor. Today we send one man with one large tractor to plant the potatoes. This tractor has a fertiliser applicator, a machine to prepare the ground with a planter on the back of that. If the ground is a bit heavy, we send another man to help prepare the ground in front of the planting tractor. One man part time, with the help of fork lifts, can bring the fertiliser and seed potatoes to the field.
We will soon be sowing canary seed in the same way we sow wheat or barley. The millet and sunflowers don’t want to be sown until about May 1st, as they are very prone to frosts.
Whilst feeding the birds in the winter is an easy job, feeding the birds in the summer is not so easy. We have to have a varied habitat to provide a variety of insects and that does not happen on our farms or in our gardens unless we make quite an effort all through the year.
A vegetable garden would have been a varied habitat but very few people grow vegetables now and our gardens in general are far less diverse than they used to be. All the crops on our farms would have had weeds in them making a diverse habitat but most of our crops don’t have any weeds in them. At this time of year we tend to those areas we are growing for insects, taking those weeds out that we don’t want, such as cleavers thistles and docks. Thistles are good for wildlife but if their seed blows on to our fields, it gets very expensive as we have to treat a whole field to control the thistles.