Monday, 27 October 2008

Soissons wheat

This fantastic photo was taken by Adrian Wilson, check out his blog here.

Before I get started, I'm not saying that the wheat in the picture above is of the 'Soissons' variety, it just jumped out at me, and I hope that ours will look like this come harvest time. So next year a small section of the college, 44m square, will look like a location shoot for a 1970's Cadbury's flake advert. Unfortunately due to limitations of space and light we won't get to sow a whole field of golden wheat, big enough to swallow a wandering flaxen haired beauty intent on capturing the soft focused English countryside in watercolour. It will be big enough though to provide an interesting garden display, an arable crop transplanted into a horticultural setting. Inspired by a scene in the French film 'Etre et Avoir', where a little girl gets lost in a field of corn, Jo wanted to get her hands on an ancient variety of bearded wheat called 'Emmer'. The French grow it, as do the Italians who grow it in Tuscany. We gardeners have many exciting and mad ideas, some of which burn up in the upper atmosphere, a whole bunch which bubble away on the back burner, and others like this one are hammered out in no time. After an online search of seed suppliers we realized that we wouldn't be able to get hold of our 'Emmer', but through a supplier in Newmarket we were pointed in the direction of a merchant in Lincolnshire. The variety that we have ended up with is a winter wheat called 'Soissons'. The supplier was quick to point out in farmery speak "You'll have to get a move on, get that land ploughed, it's a winter wheat y'know?" In fact we need to have sown by the second week in November, and harvesting, we hope!, will give us enough for a loaf of bread or two. I think if it works out it should nice for the students to look out over a cloud of bearded corn tops, although there is a chance that they may be tempted to host a midnight crop circle party. Fingers crossed, I'll crumble some Flake and scatter it over the Soissons in the ripening sun come mid July.

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