Notes from the Farm - April 2024

Notes from the Farm - April 2024


Farm Managing Director


Like many others held back by the wet weather, we have got some catching up to do to put us back on schedule with drilling crops like barley and oats. The bees at Daylesford and Wootton seem to be in the same frame of mind, as some intensive work began in the hives over April. As we all know, April can still be wet and cold, and because bees only forage for nectar and pollen on sunny days, the colony must work extra hard when they can to feed the larvae and keep the hive warm as the winter stores come to an end.  
Our beekeepers check the hives every week to make sure the queen is laying eggs and the bees are actively foraging protein-packed pollen, essential for feeding the growing hive and ensuring strong and healthy bees for the future of the colony. Contrary to popular belief, spring dandelions, daffodils or snowdrops do not provide the initial much-needed sustenance, but the trees with their protein-rich blossom.


Lambing has gone really well this year and we enjoyed sharing some magic moments with visitors on our lambing tours earlier in April. The weather has given us some warm spells, so the grass has come good now and most of the ewes and their lambs are out in the fields, along with beef cattle and their calves. 
Now our dairy herd is out grazing the lush green organic pastures night and day, their milk will become much richer and creamier compared to winter, when their diet includes home-made silage and hay. We cannot let our cattle and dairy cows out all year round because they are heavy animals and will dig up the first few inches of precious topsoil. Over the winter, the soil becomes loose, so we roll it to firm it up to minimise weeds and encourage healthy grass growth – all the better to sequester carbon on our organic, regenerative farm. 


It's not just lambs, ewes, calves and cows who are outside. At this time of year, many people feel inspired to don their boots and head out for a walk. Stretching your legs in the great outdoors offers great benefits including better sleep, stress relief, sharpened concentration and generally improved wellbeing. 
Before you set off, we wanted to share some dos and don’ts of country walks, to help you be mindful of your surroundings and the impact your actions may have on others. We all have a responsibility to protect our countryside and open spaces for current and future generations, particularly during important times of the farming calendar such as spring.

  • DO leave no trace of your visit. Litter spoils the beauty of the countryside and can be dangerous to livestock and wildlife, so take a bag along with you for rubbish and food waste.

  • DO care for nature. Leave rocks, stone, plants and trees as you find them and never disturb or damage wildlife. Avoid making unnecessary noise.

  • DO leave gates and other property features as you find them; farmers close gates to keep livestock in their pastures.

  • DON’T go near horses or livestock, however friendly they may seem, and please do not touch farm machinery.  

  • Dog owners, please DO make sure to bag and bin dog poo in public waste bins, or take it home. We have dog poo bins positioned along the walks at Daylesford.

  • DO keep dogs on leads and under control on agricultural land and around livestock, especially during lambing and calving season when new mothers will be on high alert wanting to protect their babies.  

  • DO keep to marked paths and pay attention to local signs.

  • DO be aware of your surroundings and what might be going on such as sporting seasons and the farming calendar. For example, in early June when deer are calving, the fawns hide in long grass, so be mindful when walking in these areas, especially with dogs. Check your route, weather conditions and local information to help you plan your adventure.

  • DO face oncoming traffic and follow The Highway Code when walking on roads that do not have pavements.

  • DO be respectful and considerate to others living in, working in and enjoying the countryside. Be nice, say hello and share the space so everyone can enjoy their visit, have fun and make memories. 



We have had to be very organised over the past month in the Market Garden to make up for time lost because of wet weather. Normally we would begin planting and cultivating from mid-March, but the rainy spring held us back several weeks. It’s not that the Market Garden team minds being outdoors in drizzle – we have warm, waterproof coats and boots after all. The issue is that working on soggy soil damages its structure, so we spent a lot of time at the beginning of April simply waiting to get onto the ground. We couldn’t even go and collect manure, because driving across the soaked fields would have caused deep ruts. 
To catch up, we have had to cram five weeks of work into two. So far we are doing well and are most of the way through our to-do list, planting crops such as kale, celeriac, spring onion and shallots like billy-o. Our main learning is not to stress about it, even though we still haven’t planted maincrop potatoes and rain is forecast again…it has been a juggle and has felt like a bit of a chess game at times, but we know that even a month’s delay in March and April can be made up in one week in May. Growers measure growth using “day degrees”, which is a calculation based on the number of hours of daylight and the number of degrees centigrade above 8. Because you get more heat and longer days later on in the season, a hot week in May can result in as much growth as a cold month in March or April. 
The positives of the situation are that we got ahead with planting in polytunnels while we were waiting for a dry spell, turning them around to spring salads and tomatoes. We are growing more tomatoes than ever before and by early May we will have five tunnels devoted to this hero summer crop.


Another unexpected benefit of the downpours was that our tulips have particularly long stems this year. We have always grown tall tulip varieties as a matter of preference, but the ground has been so saturated, there has been no competition for water, so tulips we would expect to grow to 55cm are hitting 60-70cm. We began harvesting them at the end of April and there are some beautiful varieties now in the farmshop – look out for the pastel hues of apricot impression, coral pink menton and design impression.  


Our talented Bakery team have created the perfect loaf for summer with their latest seasonal creation, the new Olive and Chilli Fougasse. The light, crisp ciabatta-style dough is studded with kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, fresh red chillies and capers ­– the punchy flavours mean the bread is delicious on its own, or served with dips as part of a barbecue, picnic or al fresco spread. The striking large leaf shape is ideal to “tear and share”, so invite people to help themselves as you make sure everyone’s glass is topped up. Launching in May in our farmshops in London and the Cotswolds. 
The cheesemakers in our Creamery are always planning ahead. While many of us are looking forward to summer, they are already thinking about Christmas, carefully wrapping and storing our Cheddar in aging rooms to mature in time for the festive season. 

"Almost as soon as April arrives, it is heartening to see the woodland and meadows around the farm covered with a bright carpet of cowslips. After declining dramatically during the intensification of farming in the fifties, these pretty yellow wildflowers are now one of nature’s most optimistic indicators of good soil health - encouraged by the organic and regenerative agricultural methods we have long been practicing at Daylesford. 

Thanks to the brighter mornings and longer evenings, I have spent more time in my vegetable garden this month. We have a brilliant new selection of ready-to-plant vegetables in our Home & Garden space at the farm, so do pop in to find lots of inspiration for your own plot. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as growing and harvesting your own food, so I hope our range of cucumbers, tomatoes, leeks, aubergines, rhubarb, squash – and more - encourage you to try nurturing some crops of your own this year. Click here to enjoy a little tour around the glasshouse with our wonderful Plant Manager, Max, who is always very happy to help answer any questions."