The Acid Test


Having ploughed our best field in February, the time came to test the soil and find out what the next steps would be.

As predicted, the results from the laboratory have just come back to show that the ground is pretty sour and poor. pH readings are around 5.5, and turnips require significantly less acidic conditions if they are going to prosper. I have been prescribed a course of ground lime, granular lime and Boronated fertiliser, all of which begin to run up a considerable bill – and that is before I have even settled on a dizzying variety of turnip or swede seeds.

Of course I find myself quailing from this investment – every penny counts when it’s being pared directly out of your pocket – but the die is cast and there is no going back. I would like to sidestep artificial fertiliser on environmental grounds, but I think it is unavoidable in this first year and I can work along more organic principles in the future.

In the meantime, I have found a real joy in the ever-changing nature of this ploughed field. The soil varies in colour almost hourly, moving from a dull, frowning black to light pastel shades of caramel and grape. Textures and tones are always changing, and this flux is a pleasing reflection of the soil’s very essence – the living, dynamic medium of life itself.

As always, I am balancing the viability of producing a decent agricultural crop against working sustainably for wildlife. There’s no point dragging my heels or moaning about cost – if I wanted a cheap hobby I should have made different decisions years ago. If anything, I am more fixated and determined than I have ever been.

Kick on.

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