The start of Autumn has been very busy at Essentially Hops; and with all the agricultural activity at the Farm; we’ll give you a brief roundup of what’s been happening this month.
As some of you will know (and would have seen on the country lanes), tractors full of fresh hops have been up and down from the decorative hop gardens here in Bekesbourne and the commercial hop gardens in Bishopsbourne. Much like the last 100 years at Chalkpit Farm, Hop Season has been in full swing and we’ve had a fantastic season picking and delivering beautiful fresh hops to customers up and down the country; we’ve even hosted a pick your hops event which we’ll definitely host again next season!
Of course it has been extremely hard work too (with heavily scratched arms, lupulin-blackened hands and a few mechanical issues to fix), but we’re glad that the season has now ended; seen off with drinks and cakes as tradition dictates! The focus now, is to dry the hops and get them ready for customers over the next 12 months before the hop season starts again.
If that wasn’t enough exertion for our farmers, the combines have also been out in our fields creating clouds of dust and harvesting the arable crops. It’s important to n’oat that the weather hasn’t been the best this year, so we’ve had to ‘wheat a while’ longer to watch the ‘oats and beans and barley grow’ until mid-September. Puns and songs aside though, our harvest is now all done and very, very dusted; and you will not have to suffer behind our tractors on your commute to and from home any further, although the top fruit, grape, maize & potato harvest is still in full flow and the tractors will still be hurtling up and down the highways and byways.
The weather has also been a factor in our flower fields too. Whilst our Sunflowers have flourished this month (and attracted ‘pick you own’ customers from all over Kent in August and September), our other varieties have struggled with inclement weather both before and during the summer. We do have more country flowers growing though, and the hope is that they’ll be ready for our pickers in late September (with nature’s help of course).
Speaking of the weather, it’s also the time of year to start thinking about hops for next year, and in particular, planting Hop Plants before the winter sets in. We get loads of questions from customers who ask us about planting hops in the spring BUT the trick to hops is get them in and bedded before the winter so that the roots (and soil) have a chance to stabilise before the spring and benefit from the damp and cold weather. In simple terms, we lift them out of the ground in December so the sooner they are back in the ground again, the better. We also have 46 varieties of hop plants available to pre-order in September, each with their own unique ‘profile’ which you can view on our website.
Back in the farm shop, we’ve hosted some amazing and creative customers in our Summer and Autumn workshops; these are now getting incredibly popular again after we re-opened the shop in May this year, and our Make Your Own Christmas Wreath Workshops are already being booked. We’ve got some amazing new workshops next year that include Create your own wedding flowers which is sure to be very popular; given that our florists design and create dried wedding flowers that are very popular online all year round. We are however moving into the Autumn/Winter wedding season, so we have got some new wedding collections available instore and online this month.
Finally, September is the month where we are picking and drying the remaining hops, flowers and grasses that we grow on the farm, all of which are stored in our huge barns ready for dispatch across the UK; so we’ll have loads of new season dried products available online and in our farm shop very soon as we move into October and Autumn. The 23rd September marked the official end of the Summer, but let’s hope the sunshine stretches into October to give us all (and the fields) a little more time to enjoy it.