Wet Wet Wet

Well we have had some nice sunny weather in May & June, so I can’t really complain; although we do seem to have an establishes pattern now of hot and dry early summer, followed by cooler and wetter late summers. This is all fine if you can get all your irrigation sorted for the first part of the season, and have all the ground prepared for when you can’t get on it later on. However, it’s rather a pain when it comes to clearing early summer crops and trying to put early autumn produce in: also for getting on top of the weeds, as the buggers keep rerooting and reseeding, and if we spend too long weeding in the wet, we’ll trash the ground. Hey ho, and hurrah for polytunnels…

Meanwhile the crops are actually doing very well; as well as some lovely sunflowers, zinnias, gypsophilia and cornflowers, we’re now picking salads, fennel, courgettes, chard, spinach, kales and perennial herbs outside, as well as tomatoes, climbing beans, basils (check out our gorgeous Thai basil photo!), coriander, chillies, peppers and cucumbers inside. The cucumbers were almost a disaster following the destruction of the first lot by woodlice, but fortunately we’d sown a back-up second lot, and then quickly sowed a third lot too, so they are just a bit behind but catching up now.

At least the rain means time for catching up on paperwork, and blog posts!

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Last of the Winter Veg

20170120_111512 20170113_120418Ah the bleak days of January and February ahoy: at this time of year it’s all about finishing off the crops from the year before, where your hard work of the summer and autumn will come to fruition (or not). Fortunately the pak choi and mixed salad leaves in the polytunnels are still going strong, despite the many nights of -5C recently; and the longer days are encouraging more leaf growth and regrowth too which is great for the plants that have already been picked. All four larger tunnels have had salads in them over winter, and there’s just a of strips that haven’t been picked at all yet; the rest are the faster growing brassica leaves that should be able to stand another month or so before bolting, so we can get at least another pick off them.

T20170113_12445120170116_151333here are still a few last leeks out in the field, and a couple of rows of parsnips that still need to be dug up; but other than that, there’s not much going on at the moment. The kale has pretty much been picked out for the time being, so will have a couple of weeks off. However, looking on the bright side, we have already started our sowings for 2017, woohoo! We’ve sown lettuces, spring onions, rocket, beetroot and spinach in modules, and in the next week or so will be filling our hot bed (hot box really) with fresh horse manure, and using the heat to get some tomato seeds off to a good start.

01120081Meanwhile I’m enjoying checking in with WildCam as I move it around the fields: always good to catch a sneaky fox up to no (some?) good…

A Leek in the Bleakness

leeksBlurgh; so this chilly damp weather is what we’ve come to expect in December over the last decade or so: not crisp enough to be bracing, mostly overcast and pretty wet and cold, with no sign of exciting snow to lift the spirits (and make a good enough excuse to stay indoors or go out and play on a snow-day). However, our leek patch has done really well this year, and rewards those chilled-extremity efforts; so far we’ve harvested around 800kg+ of the lovelies since September, from 2 of the 3 varieties planted in blocks, and have another 60kg+ left of good-size Tadorna’s to pick (smalls are left to grow on for spring), with good-sized Hilari/Pandora/Lancia leeks pretty much picked out. Then the last block is all Hannibal leeks, of which I’d say we have around 400kg waiting for us in the New Year (wholesale orders available – please get in touch!). The leek patch (especially the almost-empty first 2 blocks) might look pretty bleak in the mud, with piles of leek leafy leftovers left to rot down (great for next year’s beetroot & salad crops though); but the wildlife love it – a mixture of leek forest for cover and stealth, plus turned-up mud for hunting grubs and worms, and leafy and rooty veg waste islands to eat and hide in. We found a neat half-rabbit half-burried in the mud on Monday, presumably by a wily fox to keep fresh in the muddy larder for a Christmas Day treat?

20161209_123941Once you get in the groove, picking and stripping leeks is a pretty good job; especially if you can liven it up with some festive music on your phone or mp3 player this time of year: we’ve been enjoying the internet radio station Xmas in Frisko for some hilarious alternative Christmas music, and you can get a  good rhythm good of chopping and slicing while signing ‘Walking Round in Women’s Underwear’ to the tune of ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’. Probably best if I don’t actually sing the words out loud though as the lane running past the hedge is often full of walkers…