Just like a garden, our farm grows a mix of annual, biannual and perennial plants. Perennials are the most desirable if you can get them to grow. For the last 15 years, the weather has been really tough on perennials and we’ve been hit hard with a charming little grub called the red-headed cockchafer (honestly!), so, over time, more and more of the farm has been planted to annuals. Perennials need better conditions to get established than annuals or biannuals and the seed is incredibly expensive.
This summer and autumn are different. My old friend Jack tells me the last time he’s seen the place stay green all through summer was in the sixties. So, if this is a once in a 50-year- chance to get the more delicate perennials established, I’m going to take it! As a result, about a quarter of the farm is ploughed up, including the paddock that wraps itself around the house, replacing annuals with perennials. It’s a bit scarey but it’s worth the gamble. If we get it wrong, we lose tens of thousands of dollars in seed, contractor bills and feed. If it works, we’ll reduce our vulnerablility to autumn weather, lower our annual pasture renovation costs and, with less disturbance, better protect our soils.