Proper Winter

I don’t think the world is short of words at the moment; so instead of a wordy post, I thought I’d tell the story of life in the market garden at the moment with photos taken from last weekend’s snowy days, and the hard frosts from the week before. More snow today plus forecast of heavy rain mid-week means more muddy wintery fun; at least when it’s properly cold the slugs stay hidden.

At least docks are pretty in the frost…
Eerie foggy scene of kale plants under enviromesh nets
Coriander plants left to go to seed to feed wildbirds & habitat for other wildlife
Snow blocking out the light and making usually bright dulls appear black
Snow covering the clover (and weed!) green manures

Exotic brassicas on Radio 4

Our spicy brassica salad leaves and kales out in the field made it onto Farming Today on Tuesday: we took a tour round the tunnels, checking out the mizuna, namenia, mustards, sessantina, komatsuna and other delicious leaves – perfect for a healthy and tasty starter for Christmas Day lunch! These famous leaves are currently available in the shop at Hartley Farm or their online ordering service, and via FarmDrop.

November Update

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since I last posted… fair to say it’s been a *busy* year so far! During the first lockdown I felt very fortunate to have access to my rented land on the farm as a space to escape to, get my head down and work, usually in the sunshine. I can’t deny a certain pleasure too in being officially recognised as a key worker and therefore ‘allowed’ to be out and about at the farm or making deliveries. It was certainly eerie to be out on the deserted roads save for a few fellow vans, lorries, handful of cars and of course the ambulances that made the pandemic feel very close to home.

The demand for local, reliable food supply continues to increase and the start of this second lockdown has seen another surge in demand. In ‘normal’ years November is the time when it feels like the foot is off the pedal a bit as various crops either run out or slow right down (tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, courgettes, basil, spinach, chard all finished; squashes and beetroot harvested and stored; kale and leeks happy in the fields but not growing much). However this year continues to be different and crazy, and I suspect that time for resting will only come after Christmas. Here’s hoping it will coincide with more good news with regards to a vaccine in early 2021.

It’s been interesting to see that the early opening of online Christmas delivery and click & collect slots both at Hartley Farm and also with Farmdrop in London, whom we also supply, has led to a number of early order for Christmas produce: it seems that many of us want to ensure that we have some great food to enjoy over the festive season, no matter how it will look with regards to restrictions and lockdowns. Good sustainble food is indeed a balm for the soul, as well as good for the body and mind.