Sizzling May is certainly giving flaming June a run for its money.

Over the last few weeks we’ve all enjoyed fabulous sunny weather which has lifted our spirits during lockdown and made the queuing outside the supermarket almost bearable (so I’m told – heartfelt thanks to all of those involved in doing my shopping!) Nevertheless, it isn’t ideal for tiny tree seedlings. For instance, the temperature dropped to freezing on two mornings which can be expected in May but what has been very unusual is the high level of fierce sunlight each day for many days since and of course a very small amount of rainfall. So clearly without some very keen nursery staff and some improvisation to put temporary growing controls in place to keep our seedlings safe, big losses would have occurred. Not everything survived! Whenever the direct sunlight managed to pierce in on ends of seedling trays for an hour or so without being noticed by us, plants were simply zapped. We soon learnt that our coffee breaks had to be taken in rotation. Put quite simply, our seedlings like toddlers, couldn’t be trusted alone in the sunshine! It has though been great to wander around work without coats and wellies, some of us have even opted for short sleeved shirts and shorts (not me though – never on a farm and only abroad!)

My eureka moment was to recycle our retired potato bins into growing trays for some of the stronger species of trees. This has made hand weeding so much easier when the ground is at waist height. In fact it’s a pleasure to weed (some of my teenage grandchildren are still arguing that waist height is relative). We are planning to open a small retail area in the car park of our neighbouring Ledene Golf Centre for mainly our potted trees but also our bare rooted stock later on. The plan will be to offer a limited number of garden shrubs, small species trees for gardens and larger trees for bigger spaces. So if you are local, do pop down and fill your boot and maybe have a quick round of golf.

Blackthorn growing in our recycled potato boxes
Potted plants ready for sale at the Ledene Golf Centre