Vital Veg, organic farm, cucumber plants

Newsletter 11th May 2020

Our 16th anniversary
This week Vital Veg is 16 years old. That is hard to believe. It seems like 2 minutes, and a lifetime. We have been so busy this spring that we actually overlooked the date, and did not make a note in our printed newsletter. We have welcomed many wonderful customers over the years, who have brightened and enriched our lives as well as giving us custom. Because Aberdeen has so many transient residents with the fast-moving international oil business many customers stay only a while, but many stay for the long term too and we are very honoured to have a core of customers who have been with us since May 2004 in Vital Veg-week one. To all our customers - long term or short, thank you!

On the farm
Well – we are very grateful for the rain (and even the snow!!) that has come over the weekend. The soil moisture is now somewhat replenished – enough to ensure that our field crops will get a decent start, once the warmth returns. So, at least for the moment a level of anxiety has lifted. We will be back out in the field this week sowing the last of our main-crop carrots and our swedes. Our weeding team is arriving (suitably well wrapped up!) to start on the mammoth tasks of thinning and weeding the beetroots, parsnips and the first of the carrot crops. This job will take at least 5 weeks.

The rain has freshened everything, and the farm smells wonderful with the damp soil and new greenery appearing. The grass, and our healthy weed population, has suddenly started growing overnight, and the birds are even more busy with their nesting duties. On birds – we are blessed with cuckoos on our farm. These birds are now rare, and are one of the 50 or so species that live in or visit Britain which are at risk of extinction. We had a pair in our kitchen garden at the weekend – possibly prospecting for a place for their eggs amongst the many small bird nests in our large hedges.

On potatoes
We have had a number of enquiries about sprouting potatoes. Yes, these are safe to eat. Rub out the sprouts, which are not so good to eat, but they are not poisonous (unlike green potatoes, or green potato leaves, which will give you a bad stomach). To explain - potatoes will be sprouting new shoots at this time of year. Like all plants they have internal clocks and they “know” that it is now time to grow. Organic potatoes are not sprayed with chemicals to inhibit sprouting, so there is nothing we can do to delay the natural course of things, other than keep the tubers cold. Even cold storage fails to work as the spring progresses. The potatoes will also start to go a little soft as the tuber starts to change the storage starches into sugars in readiness for growth. Neither the sproutiness nor the softness will detract from the eating quality. Let us know if you prefer to opt out of potatoes until the new season ones are available, or whether you are happy to use the ones we have available at the moment. If you want to learn more about chemical sprout suppressants used on non-organic potatoes any online search will bring up plenty of information.