July on the farm (2019)

Red Clover

Richard Fonge writes:

Firstly congratulations to our World Cup winning cricket team. Cricket is a sport very much associated with the greensward whether that be the hallowed turf of Lords or the village green. In Sulgrave Madam’s Close the field above the Manor and between Manor Rd and Little Street was where the Sulgrave cricket team played until about 1960. This field of grass as are many around the village are what are called permanent pasture fields, where the grasses are made up of many species, including perennial ryegrass, fescues, cocksfoot, Timothy and white clover, an interesting plant which is a member of the pea family and therefore a legume. White clover is a source of protein among the grasses and thrives on fairly tight grazing and not too much artificial nitrogen fertiliser, as it is like the alfalfa plant in that it has its own nodules that can fix nitrogen in the soil. A good example of a field sown to a mixture of perennial grasses and clover is on the footpath from Wemyss farm to the Stuchbury boundary. Sown last year it can be seen how the clover is increasing after some tight grazing by sheep. It appears that very little nitrogen has been applied.

Red clover another legume can be seen growing on our roadside verges, most notably up the gated road. Once used in grass mixtures for hay to help provide bulk and as a legume, protein, it has come back in favour especially for organic farmers. Both these clovers have medicinal properties. The white as a blood purifier, eyewash and the red for its estrogen. 

Roadside verges are corridors where wild flowers and insects can thrive without due disturbance, so need to be left unmown if possible. Two fields on the footpath to Barrow hill are wildflower meadows, sown to a mixtures some years ago as part of an environmental scheme, providing a diverse wildlife habitat. They are mown in late July, early August for hay after all the flowers have dropped their seeds. 

Finally the hedgerow briars are out in flower. So we hope for a bumper blackberry harvest, to go along with a good harvest of all the crops in our parish.

Richard Fonge



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