Vital Veg, organic farm, weeding carrots

Newsletter 18 May 2020

On the farm
Our weeding team arrived mid-week last week to begin thinning our row crops. Our carrots, beetroots, parsnips and swedes are direct drilled into the field, and then thinned by hand and weeded once they are a few inches high. After this we can weed using our tractor which is much faster. But the initial weeding is done by hand, and the seedlings are thinned to between 5cm to 25cm apart, depending on the crop. This year the total length of our rows add up to 4.6 kilometres. That is a lot of thinning! Luckily our team have extremely comfortable weeding trollies to lie on, so that they are suspended above the rows and don’t have to crawl along on hands and knees. It has been so cold, however, with freezing temperatures overnight, that our crops are very slow. In fact it was so cold last week that our team had to abandon because it was too chilly, and cold hands are not good at dealing with tiny plants. The forecast is better, thankfully, so we will start again at the end of the week, or the beginning of next. Of course the weeds are not deterred, and it is a race, as always, to keep ahead of them!

Indoors things are coming along well. The promise of higher night-time temperatures have given the confidence to plant our cucumber crop. The plants will be covered on horticultural fleece overnight for a while, just in case!

Recipe : Whole Roasted Cabbage Quarters with Sichuan Pepper, Sesame & Mushrooms

from The Green Roasting Tin, by Rukmini Iyer
Serves: 2, Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 25 minutes
1 large sweetheart cabbage
300g shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 heaped teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
half red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
To serve:
White rice

1 Preheat the oven to 200ºC fan/220ºC/gas mark 7. Cut the cabbage into long quarters, keeping the stem intact, and transfer to a roasting tin, cut side up, along with the mushrooms.
2 Drizzle the cabbage and mushrooms with the sesame oil and mix well, making sure you work the oil particularly in between the cut leaves. Scatter each cabbage quarter and the mushrooms with the sea salt and the Sichuan peppercorns, then transfer to the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
3 Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, red chilli, rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds and set aside.
4 Serve the cabbage and mushrooms hot, with rice, and the dressing alongside or drizzled over.