In my naïve attempt to fiddle with agriculture, I seem to have opened a major can of worms. Having put in my game crop for the benefit of partridges and blackgame, I have been delighted to see the stubble turnips come leaping into prosperity, even during the long, dry July. Tempting fate, I decided to try and make up for lost time and give the turnips a kick with some fertilizer.
Advised by the local suppliers that I needed 16 16 16 (which I call “treble sixteen” in the hope it makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about), I bought three hundredweight and scattered it by hand. It lay idle for several days until the rain came, at which point it melted into a semi-opaque soup and vanished into the soil.
A week after the rain and the entire field is writhing with terrifyingly vigorous growth. The turnips have come bounding out of the ground as they are on steroids, along with some of the most impressive dock plants I have ever seen. When the wind gets under them, they loll and flap their leaves like the fins of great green basking sharks. I have been trying to keep them cut back and under control, but they seem to swarm in with such enthusiasm that the mission seems doomed.
I now pass back and forth along the rows of turnips, weeding out the bigger dock leaves which are lolling too heavily on the emerging crop, and satisfy myself with the thought that I’m not trying to feed livestock and that weeds won’t bother the game. A great deal of grass has come through (without any discernible millet) and the field looks very green, but as long as the birds find it useful, I don’t have much to complain about. A surprising amount of kale and radish plants have also come through from last year, as well as some of the bee mix plants like borage and phacelia. In a few weeks, the mix of grass and weeds will look turnip-heavy, and that is all I can really ask for. After all, a keeper I know often has to cut almost 60% of his game cover out because it comes on too well and the birds don’t like it.