Detail of the potato planter at Vital Veg, Aberdeen

Newsletter 23rd April 2018

On the Farm
Hurrah!  The tatties are planted.  Just two weeks behind our planned planting date, which is something close to a miracle, given how bad things were looking last week.  We have also sown the parsnips and the first carrots – just a week late.  With good luck and fair weather these crops will catch up – important in our short northerly growing season!

The fine breezy weather has given us a chance to get on top of couch grass weeding.  Couch (locally known as string-weed because its runners are like very strong string) is a serious weed.  Non-organic farmers spray it with glyphosate.  We live with it, or if we get a nice dry, breezy spell we can bring the runners to the soil surface and dry them out.  Last weekend was ideal for this, and so the areas planned for kales, cabbages, broccoli etc. are now covered in drying couch grass.  We will rake this up and compost it once it is nice and dry, so we get the benefit of all the nutrients in the roots.

Elsewhere on the farm we have been sowing oats, and adding a mixture of seed-bearing plants such as quinoa, millet, linseed and buckwheat to 5 acres of oats that we will leave unharvested to provide wild birds with food over the winter.  Since we arrived on the farm nearly 20 years ago we have done as much as we can to benefit the birds, including planting close to 30,000 trees.  The land was mostly bare 20 years ago – now with its network of hedges, woodlands and patches of unharvested crops wild birds and other beasties, abound!

Chicory
Some of the veg boxes contain leafy chicory this week.  It looks like a slightly odd, darkish green lettuce.  It is a little more bitter than a lettuce, but makes a good as part of a salad mix.  If you find it a bit too bitter you can wilt it as cook as spinach – adding it to a pasta dish for example.  Unlike the “forced” pale chicory that is kept dark, this variety is grown just like any of the other leafy crops that we grow in our polytunnels.

Veg ID
We are (slowly!) working on a veg ID parade to put up on our website to help you with identifying some of the vegetables that we grow, and which you may encounter in your box.  Until such time as we find time to finish this project please don’t hesitate to ask us if there is anything in your box that you don’t recognize, or which you would like advice on how to prepare and eat.  We are very happy to help! 

I hope that you enjoy reading about the farm in these newsletters.  I realized that this one is number 600!  That is a lot of newsletters! We like to give you an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in filling your boxes with veg every week.  If you want to see pictures we put new ones up on our facebook page regularly.  Have a peek if you have not already done so!