Vital Veg, organic farm, potato picking

Newsletter 14 September 2020

On the farm
What a busy week we had last week! It was potatoes, hay and walling on top of looking after our veg crops in the field and tunnels.

Our potato harvest is safely in the shed. Just shy of 7.5 tonnes all in, most of it lifted in one day. Needless to say, it was a furious day’s work. Our neighbor, Gordon and good friend Duncan took shifts operating the tattie digger ahead of the pickers (Jason, Sandy, myself and three staff hired from another farm (Richard, Peter and Micha)). The tattie digger lifts the tubers and shakes off the soil. It then lays the tubers back on the surface of the soil and they are picked by hand. We put them into crates each containing about 20kg, and these are stacked up in rows the field. Once we have them all stacked we use a big flat trailer behind the tractor to collect all the boxes and take them to our storage shed. They should last until the spring, depending on how fast you eat them! We have 11 of our 12 varieties left (you have eaten the entire Casablanca crop already!). We will put them all in the veg boxes over the next few months and endeavor to let you know what they are. This week it is Colleen, which is a very good all-rounder in the kitchen.

Flower-rich hay
Over the past 20 years we have been gradually enriching a little wildflower meadow (4 acres) by planting little plants and sowing seeds into it. This year we are transporting some of the flower-seed rich hay made from this meadow into the open glades in our woodland for our visiting “tree cattle” to feast on. The idea is that the cattle will create small bare patches in the woodland grass with their hooves which will be ideal for the flower seeds in the hay to fall into and germinate. Well – such is the theory. We will see what happens!

Walling classes
At last, after a long enforced break we ran the first of our drystone walling courses on the farm, led by the very talented and experienced stone mason, Malcolm Hutcheon! Having checked with the authorities we are going ahead with more courses in the next few weeks for people who booked with us in the spring, and we hope to run more after that, all being well. The drystone walls form a key habitat on our farm, being a safe home for some of our key workers – our toads! It is great to be able to repair and extend these, and to teach a valuable skill at the same time.