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Rambling #160

As the growing season gradually winds down, it looks like it can be classed as 'a good year'. Due to the vagaries of the British weather, it is generally reckoned that growers will have one good year in three! We were particularly pleased to have a good sweetcorn harvest. This was mainly due to realising we've been using the wrong sort of electric fence, which the badgers were able to brush past and get into the badger equivalent of the Garden of Eden. But not this year!

Left: Transplanting sweetcorn on 1st June. Right: First pick on 30th August.

Save for a bit of garlic planting, we have finished our work in the field but it is still 'second spring' in the polytunnels, as we rush to strip out the summer crops and plant winter ones. Some degree of urgency is required, so the plants have time to do a bit of growing before the winter sets in.

The squashes have also done well but, as we lack enough proper storage space, they will appear in the boxes fairly frequently. If you don't want to use them that week, give them a gentle wash and dry and then they can then adorn a window sill or kitchen table until needed. This week you will have green tomatoes. We recommend you cook with them (e.g. 'fried green tomatoes'), rather than leave them to ripen.

As Halloween is imminent, we have put pumpkins in the box. Although small, they are culinary varieties, so will have a better flavour than the large carving type. Also in your box this week, our very own lemongrass. Don't forget if you are stuck for inspiration, there are recipe ideas for most veg and herbs which you can access via your dashboard. You can also see what the contents of the box are each week also on the dashboard from Tuesday lunchtimes, which can be helpful if there is something you don't recognise. Next week's box will include our own Bramley apples. Obviously not a vegetable, but it goes well in many savoury dishes.

Please do have a look at the Extras list for topping up your regular veg box. At this time of year it is gradually changing, as we say goodbye to the summer crops (this is the last week for tomatoes) and welcome in the autumn/winter veg for warming roasts, soups and stews. 

As ever we have a few quality issues to deal with. Firstly leeks - I will repeat here what we put out to everyone who had a box two weeks ago:

As you might have noticed, our leeks are afflicted with Allium Leaf Miner.  This is a relatively new pest ( it has come across from mainland Europe, so possibly linked to climate change) that we are learning to deal with. We have stripped a fair amount back of the leeks but there is still some damage which should come away with normal kitchen preparation. It is very galling to find this tiny creature making free with our leek crop but we hope you can work around it because otherwise it would mean we had to throw away the entire crop.If you feel we have made the wrong call and your leeks are unusable, we will of course refund you.

Secondly, potatoes. A lot of them have small holes, made mainly by wireworms. We are grading them as best we can, but it is not always possible to gauge just how extensive the internal damage is. As with the leeks, please let us know if you're not  happy with what you receive.

And finally carrots. Any carrots grown in lowland areas of the UK will be plagued by carrot root fly, which can cause superficial damage to the root. Our only defence, in place of a pesticide, is crop covers and ours are beginning to show their age and consequently letting the flies in! Like the potatoes, we are grading them quite hard, but some may need extra peeling.

We have occasionally been asked by customers who want to pause their order, whether they can donate it instead. We have done this on an ad hoc basis, but now there is a facility on the system, whereby you can select 'donate' whenever you need to pause your order. We will then give an appropriate quantity and type of vegetables of the same value  to a local food bank. For example we may convert your order into a sack of potatoes.


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