Organic cabbages, Vital Veg, Aberdeenshire

Newsletter 26th June 2018

On the Farm
A shortage of rain is a rare thing in Scotland – but it looks like we are headed that way.  It is not great news because our crop growth slows and some later sown crops are endangered.  We don’t have irrigation in our fields – we have never needed it – and it is a costly investment.  

So, in the absence of rain we are modifying the care of our crops to conserve the moisture in the soil.  We have not scarified the crops that we grow on ridges – scarifying is scraping off the sides of the soil ridges to remove the weeds.  Normally this is a fairly quick operation, using an implement behind the tractor.  It makes a tidy job and cuts the weeds away from the growing crop.  It also reduces the volume of soil which the crop has to access water – hence for the very first time we have not done it!  Instead we are using the flame weeder to kill weeds in situ and leave their roots binding the soil and conserving moisture close to the crop.  A good plan, but painfully slow work, and much care is needed not to damage the crop.

We are also replacing the tined cultivator weeding by the tractor with hand weeding in our leeks and brassicas.  The tined weeder is fast and cost effective – but it turns over the soil and facilitates drying (normally a good thing for us!).  Again, the choice to conserve water means we pay the price in slower progress and harder work.   But it should hopefully save the crop.

New potatoes
Last years’ potato crop is now completely eaten and we are on to new potatoes bought in from organic growers in the south, where crops are ahead of ours.  Because these are scarce the price is high, as with the new-season carrots.  The amount in your boxes is reduced accordingly.  One other thing to be aware of with new potatoes is that they dry out much quicker than main-crop tatties.  This is because they are lifted before the skin has had time to set, and so they lose moisture much more easily.  The same tendency to lose water easily is true of early carrots, especially if they have been pre-washed, which many are.  We recommend that you eat them soonish after delivery, or at least keep them somewhere cool and covered.

See some pictures and videos of the farm
I hope that you enjoy reading about the farm in these 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!