Well we’ve been working on the plot for a couple of months now, and things are really starting to take shape. I thought I’d make some quick notes for anyone who is thinking of setting up a small holding, about the mistakes we have made early on.
1) Investing in a large electric netting is brilliant, touch wood, no fox problems as yet and we are able to sleep at night without worrying too much.
2) Don’t put as much mulch under it as we did a thin layer is enough, if possible, don’t bother with the mulch and just use weed supresent membrain, as any thing that gets damp can short the bottom wires.
3) Protect your asparagus crowns from slugs!!!! We found lots of slugs chomping away on the crowns this weekend, and have only just popped in a couple of slug traps (beer in jars) and put some card board collars in the tender stems.
4) Don’t expect to get too much produce in the first year. All of our energy has been ( and will be) put into settin gup the main infrastructure this year. Livestock and permenant veg don;t produce as much in their first years as they do once they are established, so you can expect to work twice as hard for half the yeald.
5) Buy an incubator with a humidity meter. We went for the cheapest one, and are hoping for the best (eggs still in), but I can see that investing another £50 or so may have been a better idea.
6) This is just my opinion, but don;t buy a massive tractor. We went for a small but tough little John Deere, and it has been great, it small and efficient, and much less noisy than a huge machine. We are always happy to get Deirdre out at the weekends to roller, or harrow. A larger machine would have been more costly and more hassle to drive around the plot.
7) Allow a contingency pot of money. Set up costs more than you think. I will include a rough overall costing after a year. This will show the cost of turning an empty field into a smallholding.