Vital Veg, organic farm

Newsletter 15th February 2021

On the farm
What a difference a few days make! The temperatures have gone from -14 °C at the lowest to +7 °C today, and double digits (positive!) on the cards for the end of this week. We have seen the most magnificent, and largest snowdrifts in the 25 years that we have lived in this part of the world. We are truly blessed to have incredibly kind farming neighbours who spent six or seven hours digging out our access tracks with their digger. The drifts were well over our heads in places. Now they are melting rapidly, and being replaced by newly formed rivers and ponds. There is rain in the forecast, but fingers crossed this will not be too heavy!

The weeks of frozen ground, followed by snow, followed by swamp has delayed our field work by weeks. We should have ploughed our potato ground in January. Now it looks like it will be very late February or even March before we can get on with that. Ho Hum…. At least we will be able to get going in the tunnels, and plant out some of our over-wintered seedlings. We will also be getting ready for our main sowing of seedlings for the field. 20,000 leeks are first on the list beginning in about 10 days’ time!

The good things about snow
Snow does make our job here more difficult. There are times when we can’t see the veg in the field to harvest them! It is a case of finding the beginning of a row and just working your way along rather like a lucky dip! It makes packing boxes slower because some of our staff get snowed in, and it makes deliveries slower. And of course we have to keep the polytunnel roof clear… but snow (especially the nice dry fluffy sort) is a great insulator. We are glad it was here to help protect our leeks and carrots in the field. The snow on our shed roof adds a few degrees of insulation. And finally the snow melt, when it comes, adds moisture to our soil. Not that the soil has been too dry this winter, but in recent years lack of snow (and rain) in winter has left our soils a bit on the dry side for spring sowing – especially as we have had a succession of Mediterranean Aprils.

Beetroot Chutney
Here is a family recipe kindly sent in by Joan MacMaster. If you have a beetroot surplus, why not give this a go!

3lbs beetroot, boiled (or roasted),cooled, skinned and chopped.
2 large onions, chopped
1½ lbs cooking apples
½ lb sugar
1 pint vinegar (I use Apple cider vinegar)
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon salt
½teaspoon ground ginger

Cook the above ingredients for 20 minutes until soft.

Add the chopped beetroot to the above mixture and boil for a further 20 minutes.

Spoon into warmed jars and seal. Can be eaten immediately.

BOXES – please leave out for us to collect when your next delivery is due THANK YOU