February/March 2020 News

We’ve had Ciara, Dennis and Jorge to contend with during February. Luckily for our harvesting team the worst of the weather has come on the weekends, but they’ve still had some tough harvesting conditions. We’ll have to replace some panes of glass in our old glasshouses and clear a few fallen trees/branches but no other damage to deal with. We’re very grateful we have chalky soils that drain well.

It's been a mild winter in general though, so the spinach and chard has survived OK and the kales are starting to go to seed already so there will be a gap in supply of kale soon. The flowering shoots of many of the brassicas are delicious though and get included in the stir fry bags.

More glasshouse space

We’ve recently taken on a bay in the large glasshouses in Wye previously used by Wye College, and more recently by British Crop Protection (BCP). ‘Wye Orchard’ took them on last year, working closely with the Syrian refugee community in Ashford and they grew courgettes, tomatoes and aubergines mainly. This site is in conversion to organic status so anything we grow in there for now will be labelled as ‘product under conversion to organic farming’. All organic rules are being followed but there is generally a 2 year ‘conversion period’ to provide time to start establishing organic management techniques and build soil fertility and biological activity. So far, we’ve sown spinach and salad leaves as well as planting some early potatoes. Its good timing taking this on as we’ve not been able to get any ground ready outside yet this year due to the wet conditions.

Wild garlic

We've harvested the first of the wild garlic this week from Burscombe Cliff Farm in Egerton. Burscombe Cliff is no longer certified as organic but the management of the woodlands where the wild garlic grows hasn't changed. The garlic is a wild plant and we just harvest the leaves, rotating our harvest around the woodland so that we don't take too much from any one area.

Parsnips will be in this week’s veggie boxes, and as well as the delicious roast parsnips or parsnip soup have you tried them in a stir-fry? Either cut into thin batons or just use a peeler to get really thin slivers that need very little cooking. Or substitute parsnip for carrot in a carrot cake recipe.