The first autumn...

On 1st September 2021, English Flowers by Michaela launched. I had an empty field, and a lot to do to get the field ready by spring.

The first step (well, if you don't count 3 months of research and planning) was to get organic and locally sourced soil improver to build the flower beds. I luckily was able to get truckloads of composted stable manure from a farm 200m down the road. Sourcing local materials that are the best choice for the local environment was at the forefront of my decision making.

The next job was to start spreading the manure over the area that would become the flower field. I did not dig or till the soil, instead I covered the grass with a good few inches of composted manure and let the worms work in the organic matter for me. I chose not to disturb the soil in order to preserve and nurture the natural soil microbiology. Protecting the soil will help produce healthier and higher quality flowers, enable a healthy ecosystem to thrive, and also improve my ability to create a carbon sink.

As I completed each bed, I covered it with landscape fabric. This blocks out the light to prevent the grass and any weeds from growing. Over the winter the soil microbiology will work the composted manure into the soil, compost the grass, and create beautiful healthy soil for your flowers to grow in. The plastic is not ideal for the environment, but if looked after it can last over 20 years and be re used each winter to control the weeds and rest the soil without digging. Eventually I aim to be a plastic free business and find alternatives to the landscape fabric.

Towards the end of the autumn, I took a break from building beds and instead built my polytunnel. This little space will allow me to produce all the seedlings for the farm using organic methods and no single use plastics. And, it will house my prized wedding roses for my summer brides.

After completing the tunnel, the last project for autumn was to start on the rabbit and deer proof fencing. I did it all myself, and saying it was a challenge is a huge understatement. At times I thought I would have to give up on my dream because I didn't think I was capable of completing this mammoth project. For reference, the field is 1000m2, and the fence is 130m long. The rabbit proofing consists of burying chicken wire 30-45cm deep in a trench to stop them digging.

As with all challenges, eventually patience, persistence and hard work paid off. In the next post, I will share the progress on the farm in January.

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