Crop and Other News - August 2017

It is going to be another great year for growing. So much rain, often just when needed and sunshine. Perhaps the last couple of weeks have seen a bit too much rain, especially now we are in the summer holidays!
 
Everything is growing so well, which includes the weeds of course! The regular rain and good sunshine means the crops are not under stress and are far more able to resist disease and insect attack. The only problem is the weeds and the risk that the crop will be smothered out. The worst weed is ‘fat hen’ which grows so quickly and always catches us out. It goes from 3” to 3ft tall in 3 weeks, with stalks like ‘tree trunks’. We manage to keep on top of most of the weeding by passing through when the weeds are small, but when the rain is so frequent this gives us less opportunity to go through with the tractor-weeder or hand-hoeing.
 
The only crop where we have really lost the battle is the parsnips. Some of the second early carrots are a bit overwhelmed. The main crop onions, which looked so clean a month ago have now got ‘mini trees’ of fat hen appearing in them. We are just going to cheat here and top off the fat hen with a tractor-mounted topper as the onions and shallots are beginning to senesce.
We have managed to keep on top of the planting. We planted all the leeks at the end of June and in early July all the caulis, purple sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage, and late kales. We are continually planting calabrese, summer cabbage and lettuce. This week will see the last lettuce and calabrese planted outdoors for harvesting in October/ November.
 
We have direct sown all the swedes, beetroot, chards and spinach and will sow the last crop this week - spring greens for next May. The last of the sugar snap peas and French beans were sown two weeks ago so we should have fantastic supply right through to October.
 
After that the only planting / sowing is in the tunnels for overwintered crops and if we can keep on top of the weeding and harvesting most of the risks are over.
 
This year we have divided the crops evenly between us growers, meaning each of us has 7 or 8 crops to care for. This has been very successful as the crops look so well and this system allows more detailed management and innovation.
 
The fruit is variable this year. Plums are a disaster as they all got taken out at blossom time by late frosts. We also lost some apple varieties, but most are ok. The first apples, Discovery, will be ready at the end of August.
 
Bizarrely, July seems to have been cooler than June but the soil temperature is still high. Usually, July and August are the fastest growing months, this year June, July and now August are all rapid growing months. ~Author: Martyn Bragg
 
Fruit Bags & Mixed Box We have added Fruit Bags to our online shop, we will vary the contents each week, where possible and will certainly be using fruit from the farm when in season and available. Fruit bags are priced at £5 or £9.
 
We are also thinking of adding a Mixed Box containing vegetables and fruit. Please feel free to let us know if this is something you may be interested in.
 
Exeter Farmers' Market Every Thursday we run our stall at Exeter Farmer' Market selling our award-winning organic produce. To ensure all customers can buy freshly, harvested produce to the close of market, we now replenish our stall mid to late morning.
 
A New Market for Shillingford Organics from Saturday, 5th August We are so excited to announce we will now be at The Quay in Exeter every Saturday from 10am - 4pm selling our award-winning, organic produce.
 
We will be sharing a stall with Devon Orchard Ltd (Chutneys, Jams, Preserves & Juices), In Bloom Devon (Flowers) both from the Parish of Shillingford and Emma's Bread (Sourdoughs & more)
You will find us (outside) The Custom House Visitor Centre 46 The Quay Exeter EX2 4AN (on the East side of the river)
 
Devon Life Food & Drink Awards 2017
 
We have entered the Devon Life Food & Drinks Award 2017 and would appreciate your vote in either or both categories (Voiting Deadline 20th August):
  • Best Local Producer of the Year
  • Customer Service Award
Many of you have already voted for us, we are extremely grateful and thank you so much. ~Author: Bridget Rendall