Ms Brightside

Right, trying not to mention the w**ther or the f-word either: though flooding (oops, said it) has been on everyone’s mind here in the southwest this last week. I’ve never seen the Avon and other smaller rivers (even ditches) so full and angry, aggressively taking on neighbouring fields, roads and homes – and winning. Many have had it much worse than us, so I’ve decided to try and look on the bright side.

Out in the fields, we now have self-washing beetroot; once you can locate any tops, the 3-inch standing water helpfully cleans the roots as you pull them squelching from the sucking mud below. Also, I can simply float the bag alongside the line of rainbow chard while picking the remaining leaves into it. Difficult to find a bright side to patching up more holes in polytunnel plastic made by broken doors & gale-force wind though: improving my DIY skills perhaps?


Christmas Market

Despite the apocalyptic weather, there was a great turn-out for Hartley’s Taste of Christmas fair/market at the weekend. When I eventually made it in (long story, don’t ask), I happily had a table right next to Ollie & Ken’s mouth-watering Christmas dinner-in-a-ciabatta-bap stand (I managed to hold out for about an hour or so before going for it: turkey, stuffing, pig-in-blanket, butter-roasted potatoes and cranberry sauce, cor blimey).

While I don’t really have a huge amount of veg variety this time of year – and less than I was planning as the weather has put paid to the red cabbage, and slowed the kale and Savoys right down – I still had carrot bunches, fennel, jumbo leeks, rainbow chard, chillies and of course mixed salad bags. The salad leaf taster punnets were very popular: green frills mustard was the big hit, and the surprise heat nearly made a little girl cry so that has to be a success; plus claytonia to cool it down; mizuna; and tat soi. People seemed to enjoy trying the unusual leaves: perhaps because they felt they’d earned another boozy ice cream taster afterwards…

Salad Pick & Mix

Oriental leaf Mizuna

Today I’ll be starting to get some things ready for the Producer’s Christmas Market at the weekend at Hartley Farm; I’m hoping to get together a few recipes for some of the more unusal veg, so people can try out some new seasonal munchies. I’m picking out all the baby fennel that’s ready; considering I planted it in proper wet mud (feet were sinking 3 inches while planting), it hasn’t done too bad really.

Red frills mustard

The main draw last year at my table was the salad leaves though: I had a few samples of several different type of leaf, and invited people to try them – many were just expecting bland iceberg lettuce flavours and weren’t too bothered at first; but then when they tried the hot and spicy giant red mustard, or juicy claytonia they were pleasantly surprised. (It also helped having Fussels dressings on the next table, to dip the leaves into.)

Green frills mustard

I’m hoping to convert a few more people this weekend into trying out winter salads: it’s so nice to enjoy some fresh and healthy leaves in the midst of all the stodge and heavy food of winter.



Chicory Radicchio
Red mustard
Winter purslane Claytonia
Green In Snow mustard
Pak choi Tat Soi
Oriental leaf Mibuna