So I was expecting a slight scene of devastation after the chilly weekend: but in fact that frost seems to have done less damage than the one a couple of weeks ago which killed off all the French beans. The few remaining red salad bowl and little gem lettuces out in the field are fine and unscathed; even the nasturtium leaves that had regrown from the frost before don’t look at all bothered. The crops in the tunnels are fine (though I was never too worried about them really) – although I did think that the tomatoes and peppers would have been a bit unhappy about the temperatures. But no: the peppers are nice and firm, glossy and yummy still. Despite that, I think I am going to have to clear that tunnel out by the end of the week: the next lot of salads are keen to get going!
So from being promised an Indian summer this week, the forecast is now a brief spell of clear very cold weather; then more drizzle next week. Argh. Looks like I’ll never get the garlic and broad beans in before spring. I think the last dry day we had was back in September; and although this moist weather has suited some of the later brassicas, which have caught up a tiny bit (some Savoy cabbages are almost a pickable size now), it’s not great for ground preparation. Hey ho, at least I have got the option of planting the broad beans in pots in the tunnel and then planting them out in spring for an early lot; and drilling the rest directly in the soil at the same time for a later lot. I should count my blessings: frustrated farmers dependent on drilling winter cereals now don’t really have that option.
So now it’s all about preparing for the predicted cold snap this weekend: I’ve wrapped my tiny crop of pumpkins up in the tunnel, and also put fleece over the two half-tunnels of salad. I think if it does get really cold, it might spell the end for my tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers; but they have slowed right down now anyway. Next week could be the time to strip the remaining fruit off (chutney time!) and start getting that tunnel ready for the next two batches of salad.
The second lot of salads are now all in: I planted out the last half a tray (around 75 modules) of land cress this afternoon, to give a nice variety of brassicas (spicy leafs) and cooler crisp leaves, such as radicchio, lamb’s lettuce and endive. I also picked the first few mustard leaves from the first lot of salad in the new tunnel today, for mixed salad bags: very exciting!
I’m planning an expanded Salad Bar for the Hartley Christmas market at the end of November, offering customers the chance to sample individual leaves and see what they think of each. Last time succulent claytonia and hot giant red mustard were the favourites; it’s just nice to show people that salad doesn’t have to = boring!