Vital Veg, organic farm, seeds

Newsletter 22 February 2021

On the farm
Well, the brief snow episode now seems like one of those odds dreams which you are not quite sure was real or not! We do still have a smattering of snow-drifts in the shady spots and hedge bottoms to remind us, but other than that it is gone. Hurrah! Thank you all for being so patient with us over the last two weeks.

We are now in catch up mode. Every year I feel like a sprinter on the blocks at this time of year – poised for the start of our busiest time. Fortunately the forecast is good (bar Tuesday), and the ground stands a good chance of drying enough by next week for us to get the plough onto this year’s potato ground.

Everything else on the farm is in catch up mode too! The birds sound notably relieved that the cold and snow have gone, and they are singing heartily. The woodpeckers (which don’t have a spring song) are drumming to call for a partner. And the wonderful skylarks are singing at top volume already. I heard the first one the day the snow melt began. The worms – builders of soil - are busy. They are amazingly able to survive the frozen ground and flooding. They make use of our over-winter green manures which protect the soil, and also our undisturbed tussocky field margins and hedge bottoms. The grass is growing, buds are swelling, and we are getting ready for sowing vegetable seedlings in our nursery tunnel. We will sow well over 100,000 plants this way, and many more direct into the soil beginning in April.

Seed alert
This year the pressure on seed companies seems even greater than last. The number of people wanting to buy vegetable seed shows no sign of slowing. This, combined with BREXIT, has made acquiring some seeds difficult. Many of the seed merchants have been closing their checkouts for long periods in a bid to reduce overwhelm. We ordered our seeds well before Christmas, and have most of our seed safely stored here. But some is still on backorder, and I am now getting nervous about the parsnips! Parsnip seed needs to be sown within a year of its collection. So we can’t keep any spare seed that we might have from last year. This year our favourite variety, Halblange, has proved difficult to get, and so now we are trying other suppliers in case our backorder does not come through.

Our parsnips are in some of the boxes this week. And we have our own carrots again at last! We have not been able to get to them for several weeks because of the ice and snow.