Crop and Other News - June 2017

What dictates the rate of growth of a crop? Surely it must be temperature, but is that just soil temperature? Is there a factor of day length, sunlight, access to moisture and an innate frustration of lack of growth when too cold? The reason I ponder this is I have never known crops grow as quickly as they have in the past week! 

The previous week was cool and wet and we were concerned the crops were behind, which would mean the Hungry Gap was dragging on. Suddenly, in a few days it all changed. The calabrese, hispi cabbage, kales, spinach, salad, lettuce, fennel, sugar snap peas, French beans, tomatoes, aubergines, parsley and beetroot, which doubled in size in 3 or 4 days, are now aplenty and instead of having a shortage of produce we have a glut!

I think some crops reach a maximum growth rate at 24°c, for instance potatoes, carrots and lettuce.  Our new potatoes are good now and we are harvesting the early varieties of Accent and Casablanca. This will be followed by the second ‘earlies’ of Milva and Nicola.

Our very early carrots, sown in late October, were fantastic. The next sowing in early January will be harvested from the start of July. The problem is if we start digging too early they are so small they all go in a week and then we have none for the following weeks.  We sow in March, April and May, followed by the main crop sown on May 27th, which will allow us a continuous supply of carrots right into the winter.  We have now managed to weed and finger-weed all these crops.

We have been harvesting over-wintered onions and garlic for weeks.The main crop onions and shallots are looking very strong.  We plant spring onions with lettuce in successionally.  We did manage to damage some of the spring onions as we left a fleece on too long and during a very windy night the tops of the spring onions were bent over and some of the lettuce were damaged by the rubbing action of the fleece.The lettuce didn’t appreciate the hot temperatures, particularly some of the little gems, which bolted.

It is now very dry again and we have been watering salad crops and calabrese but we do urgently need rain.

Fortunately, we did a lot of planting and sowing a week earlier when the soil was moist. All the red cabbage and sprouts are growing well as are the kales and early cauliflowers. calabese and hispi cabbage, early beetroot, fennel and lettuce we plant some out every two weeks to achieve successional production. 

We have planted the early autumn cauliflower. The later cauliflower plants and purple sprouting broccoli plants will arrive in the first week of July to be planted out immediately.

The team spent many days planting upward of 100,000 leeks, the plants are all established now and looking good after their first weeding.

We have also sown half of the main crops of spinach chard, beetroot and swedes. We always split the sowing in two, June and early July trying to time them to coincide with a rainfall.

We have managed to keep up with most of the weeding. The exception being parsnips. Sown in early May they always germinate unevenly and then become a real problem to weed.

If it could rain now for a couple days that would be ideal to perk up the newly planted crops and to have some moisture in the soil for the main planting of winter brassicas that will happen next week.
~Author: Martyn Bragg

Box Scheme/Online Shop
The nature of a box scheme like ours, where we use as much of our own grown produce as possible, is there are times of shortage and times of surplus and we try to share out the crop accordingly.

Our customers are our greatest advocates and recommending our box scheme to family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours would be much appreciated, especially now when crops are so bountiful, which is always a great time to sign up!
Could I remind customers to adhere to the deadlines for all orders as late cancellations does create a lot of extra work for the team. Many thanks.
~Author: Bridget Rendall