Vital Veg, organic farm, snowy polytunnels

Newsletter 8th February 2021

For only the third time in 16 years we sadly had to cancel our deliveries this week. We have had over a metre of snow falling here, and it is now in a steadily compacting layer about 18 inches deep. We need to spend even more time clearing our tunnels to free the roofs of snow, and half our team are snowed in at home. The roads are in poor condition. Safety always come first on the farm, so no deliveries alas. We are very sorry for any inconvenience and hope to be back to "normal" next week!

On the farm
Brrr! Lots of thermals required on the farm. The night-time temperatures are dipping down to those which we have not seen for over 10 years. And we have seen the return of “proper” snow – at one time a regular occurrence each winter. Typically February has been the snowiest month. We have just rather got out of the habit! So it has been a bit of a shock to the system to get up on the polytunnel roof and shovel off the snow. This last weekend we probably shifted over 20 tonnes of wet snow from the roof. Definitely no need to go to a gym when you live on a farm! Thankfully the snow since the weekend is the much drier, fluffy kind!

Keeping out the frost
Our veg shed is well insulated and will keep out the frost to protect vulnerable vegetables such as potatoes. We take special care with bananas, and wrap these in insulated blankets when they are packed for delivery because it is cold in the van. We don’t leave the blankets with you though 9if we do, please leave them for us when the following delivery is due), and it is possible that the skins of your bananas might go black with cold. If this happens they should still ripen and be good to eat. If they stubbornly refuse to ripen remember that you can always cook with bananas! They are great in a curry.

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 is 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.

Quality control
Our annual vegetable cycle is heading towards the hungry gap (when vegetables sown last year are all eaten and the new ones not yet sown, or just growing). The vegetables that stay out in the field longest have to cope with the elements and may become damaged. As the year progresses the chance gets higher. It is just part of the cycle. We do grade out damaged produce – but some does slip past. Just let us know if any finds its way to your box. On that note, if there is any fruit below standard, let us know and we will credit, replace or refund as always, but please give any dodgy apples and pears to the birds – the blackbirds in particular will love you ).