I trained in organic and biodynamic farming at Taruna College in New Zealand where, in 2010, we converted a 12-acre farm to a herb-growing facility. Since our return to the UK in 2015 we searched for a property with the potential to produce herbs for both our patients and our cosmetic brand. This summer we found it nestled in a valley on the northern edge of the Vale of Dedham. Our cute little farm is currently busily being cultivated and in conversion to a Demete certified biodynamic and organic farm. So, every month we will give you an update on what we are doing, what’s growing and what problems we may be encountering. We would love some feedback and helpful suggestions, as there are so many people out there more experienced than us.
Our glasshouse is a little bit tired in appearance but functional, cosy and dry. Of most importance, our soil is magnificent with consistently good texture, structure, porosity and chemistry. It’s unadulterated, nutrient rich, high in organic matter, well drained and protected from the elements, so we hope to maximise our growing potential and lengthen the productive season.
This spring and summer will regularly produce organic vegetable seedlings that can be purchased from outside our Pippettes Dispensary store when the shop is open and we will also have a few outside Pippettes Clinic too.
Some of our seedlings are already warming up in the glass house and thinking about showing themselves in the near future (such as our broad beans) whereas mustard leaves, land cress and parsley are going great guns already.
We’ll keep it simple this year and grow herbs for the clinic, teas and produce, dried herbs such as Calendula, Plantain, Melissa, Hypericum and Marshmallow for our infused oils for the cosmetics.
First thing's first
Before we start to do anything we need to rabbit fence the paddocks as we have too many little visitors nibbling everything. Deer and badgers have well-beaten paths that we respect, but rabbits will have to play elsewhere.
Next comes preparing the soil. The first area we will utilise is closest to the house so we have plentiful water collection close by and it's within easy reach of the barn and glasshouse. We don’t really want to till – but need to remove the grass (lawn not pasture). Chickens or pigs spring to mind (not the rabbits and moles we currently seem to be attracting) but realistically we think we should do a one-off till just to get us up and running. Let us know your thoughts…
Biodynamic preparations and timing are important factors that require a lot of planning. We follow a biodynamic calendar and work within Nature's rhythms and moon cycles. The addition of ‘homeopathic ‘dilutions of biodynamic preparations is vitally important to inoculate and potentialise the soil and the area.