December news: The Final Straw

The bale sets off for the canal!

Dom says, “One of my favourite jobs in the yearly calendar is covering up our carrots with straw to protect them from the worst of the winter frosts. Volunteers and growers tackled this job with relish on Wednesday, rolling some big bales down the field with the usual thrilling risk that some of them might gain momentum and end up in the canal (bales, not volunteers). “

Tucking the carrots in under their blanket of straw

November news: Bird on a Wire

This is the week when we go through the annual ritual of taking the mesh off our purple sprouting broccoli crop (the fabric damages the emerging sprouts) and fix long lines of fishing wire above the plants, to keep the pesky pigeons off. It sounds strange but the technique works a treat (the birds are simply unable to settle on the crop to feed), at a time of year when they can really massacre your brassicas as other food sources dimish.

October news: Juice on the Loose in a Fruitful Week

With Saturday’s Apple Day looming, the Wednesday work morning crew trooped to the orchard with one thing in mind: apples. And their expedition was a surprising success – in a year when most orchards have reported very poor harvests, we were pleased to return with over 600kg in tow, with a further load still on the trees to be picked on the Apple Juicing Day.

Saturday’s Apple Juicing Day was a huge success! The air was filled with gasps of awe from children and adults alike as endless waterfalls of juice oozed from piles of pulp; homemade mashers slammed down into buckets of apples, crushing them ready for the press and at the end of the line thirst was quenched with the sweet juice of our labours. Over 300L of juice was made in a very well attended event – much of this was shared amongst attendees but 50+ bottles have been pasteurised for future events and several barrels of cider are bubbling away as I write! Thanks to all who participated in a cracking day and hopefully we’ll do it all again next year.

September news: Tomato transformation

This point in the year is always heart wrenching for a grower, as pressure on polytunnel space means we have to commit the ultimate sin: ripping out perfectly healthy tomato plants that are laden with a maturing crop! But every square inch in the tunnels is precious and our overwintering leafy crops need some autumnal warmth and light in order for us to get some pickings in the depth of winter, so the Wednesday team grubbed out one of the two tomato tunnels, weeded and spread compost ready for planting spring greens, kale and oriental leaves.

…and after the transformation

All the green tomatoes were picked to ripen off the bush, and you’ll be getting these in the share as they redden (over 200kg of them!) along with the tomatoes in tunnel 1, which will stay in until winter.

August news: Mid-Season Stocktake

Now we’ve harvested a decent proportion of our maincrop potatoes, the growers are able to calculate the expected total yield with reasonable accuracy, and we are pleased to report an excellent crop (probably) with approximately 8 tonnes left in the grounds and a year-total of 10 tonnes. Assuming nothing disastrous happens (a dangerous thing to assume!) this should give you a sizeable potato share every week until mid-spring 2020. So we’ll certainly be busy on Potato Day, 14th September, and as always will welcome all comers to lend a hand.

The onions also look good with a crop of around 1500kg.

Whopper onions in this year’s harvest

June news: Old King Kohl(rabi)

It’s that time of the year when the words “I’m just not sure what to do with it” reverberate around the collection space: the first kohlrabi share of the year. The first piece of advice is to ask a German, as our central European friends adore this bizarre vegetable; otherwise enjoy it raw, grated in a ‘slaw or cut as batons like carrot sticks, perhaps with a dip. Alternatively you can thinly slice it for a stir fry or steam together with perhaps squash or carrot. It also works well in a stew. Lexicographically, the name means ‘cabbage turnip’, and botanically, it is the swollen stem of the plant, analagous to the stem part of a head of broccoli.

May news: Three firsts in one day

On Tuesday of this week we were delighted to pick 3 new crops on the same day: the first courgette, sugar snap pea and cucumber all made their appearance. As production increases it may be a short while until you see all of these crops in your share but they are certainly on their way!

April news: A Time To Freeze

We are deep in the spring glut, that abundant period when leafy greens in particular grow faster that we can cut them. Leaves are most prolific in spring and autumn, with demand outstripping supply at other times of year! It’s an ideal time for blanching and freezing some ready for use later in the year – we’re heading towards the leaner spell in May and June when some veg in hand will be a bonus. Spinach, chard, spring greens, kale and purple sprouting broccoli are all good contenders for this.

March news: Potatoes Planted

On Thursday the growers took advantage of the sublime spring sunshine and got our 3/4 acre of potatoes planted! This is nearly a month earlier than last year, which highlights the contrast between super-sodden March 2018 and the super-sunny one this time around. We have a large surplus of a red variety called Robinta which will be available for members to take for free, though the tubers are on the small side.

Potato planting underway
Potatoes planted

In other news our onion sets have beaten Brexit: they arrived from Holland despite warnings from the suppliers of Brexit-related delays! So we are all ready for the Onion Planting Day/Members’ Social on April 6th. It’s a great activity to kick-start the growing season for kids and adults alike, with a bring and share lunch to boot!

January news from the field

Take a walk around Canalside fields and you will notice something unusual for the time of year: freshly ploughed earth. Normally we plough in early spring, but this can be tricky where there is a lot of rainfall – in fact 2 out of the last 3 years we have had to postpone onion planting as it has been too wet to prepare the ground. So the exceptionally dry start to 2019 provided the perfect opportunity to try doing things a little differently, and thus the area earmarked for the earliest plantings – potatoes, onions and early brassicas – were ploughed on Wednesday morning just in time before the rain came.

Early ploughing in Millfield ready for 2019’s early brassicas

Early ploughing in Big Gorse ready for 2019’s maincrop onions

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