During the summer months, once the narcissi season has well and truly ended, the narcissi fields are covered in polythene and smoked. The outside crew were finally able to get on with this job last week after having a spell of warm and sunny weather, essential for the smoking to begin.
The ether in the smoke encourages the flower to begin growing inside the bulb. This helps to bring the narcissi season on earlier, the crop in this field should be in flower and ready to pick by November as long as the weather between now and then is favourable!
The smoking process happens every year for three years. On the fourth year the bulbs are picked up from the ground and sterilised. This process kills any bugs that are in bulbs that would affect the quality of the narcissi. The bulbs are replanted and then for the first year left to flower. The sterilisation process slightly damages the bulb flower so for the first year they can grow with deformed narcissi heads, for example with no petals or too many petals! By the second year the narcissi are of a high enough quality to be picked and sent in our postal flower boxes. Once the summer comes the fields will be smoked and the whole process begins again.
Jon and his team have also been busy as this period of lovely dry weather is the perfect opportunity to, as the saying goes, ‘make hay while the sun shines.’ This winter we purchased a new haylage baler. Unlike hay, haylage does not require the grass to be completely dry and brown so is better suited to the climate over here. Whilst silage can be made with wet grass it requires treatment, again for us haylage is a better option as no treatment to the grass is required.
Making haylage takes place over a period of a few days and the outside crew have been working over the weekend to make sure it is completed. On the first day the grass is cut whilst it is dry. The following day the cut grass is spun, this moves the grass to make sure the bottom layer isn’t damp. Finally it is baled and wrapped.
The haylage will be used to provide winter feed for our growing herd of Red Ruby cattle. Whilst in the summer the cows are moved around the island to graze different areas, in the winter the grass just can’t grow quickly enough. This coming winter the cows will be well catered for!
In this lovely sunny weather it is difficult not to be envious of the outside team working in the sun. However there is no denying that all this hard work has earned them an afternoon off, preferably on the beach with a cold beer!