Within the rosybee site there is an area, slightly more than an acre, that we want to be able to sow with an annual crop of borage, phacelia and any other flowers that will provide masses of bee-food. This much area of borage provides so much nectar that it should support two beehives all summer and provide a real boost to all the other pollinating insects in the area. That is the plan, and so, last year we asked a local farmer to plough the ground for us to break through the grass and expose the soil. At that time we did not understand just how heavy our clay was and how quickly it re-compacted just with the, albeit very heavy, rain. To add to the fun the borage germinated poorly and was overcome the immediate emergence of a forest of various thistles. In autumn we were left with a mess of weeds - which we let the sheep munch - and by spring the clay had turned back into a solid mass.
This year, we are now equipped with our own little tractor but it has still a real battle of trial, error and patience to get the soil broken down into a fine enough texture to sow. My husband has invested to achieve this by going over and over the area pulling our ancient and unreliable disc harrow. Well done darling.
Now we need to improve the vegetative content in the soil to avoid the clay from continually re-compacting so this year, we will plant half of the area with a green manure to see if that helps. The rest has been sown with borage and phacelia again and, hopefully we will have better weather and it will quickly germinate and grow to compete with the weeds.
Right now, it is just a joy to look at our nicely tilled soil.