Thursday, 1 April 2010

Thistle spudding

Thistles are always a problem for the conservation minded farmer: when in flower, they’re a goodnectar and pollen source, and I suppose the goldfinches like the down, but most of the time they’re awkward prickly buggers that ruin your grazing and make your hay unpalatable. We’re not allowed to boomspray our arable reversion fields, so the options are to heave the knapsack on your back, hitch up the topper, or remove the humble thistle spud from its lurking place in the back of the toolshed. I top the thistles in our grazing fields, but the Upper Wood field is destined for hay making this year, and our lovely spear thistles will be a mass of down by the time the mower start work in the middle of July.This morning therefore saw me (briefly) attacking the barbed rosettes until the most almighty backache hit me across the shoulders. I must persevere, however, as sticking the blade in and flicking the plant material in the air is most satisfying.
Elizabeth has been back in the polytunnel carrying on with the sowing, having given the plants in the cold frames and setting out beds their first dose of nematodes for slug control.