We've been making the most of the mild weather to start sowing seeds and we have even got onto the land to do some of the early cultivations for potatoes and broad beans. We've already seen lots of butterflies, bumblebees, ladybirds and other insects which seems worryingly early. We just hope the weather doesn't turn cold again and shock all the spring growth. You can find out more about what we're doing at the farm at the moment in the rest of this newsletter. We've also got a piece about chard which is our vegetable of the month for March! Plus you can find out about our upcoming volunteer days.
March jobs at the farm
- We are continuing to harvest kales, chards, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflowers, cabbages, leeks, salads, beetroot, swedes, stir fry leaves and pak choi. The first of our spring onions are also ready and these can be found at our farmers market stall and on our online shop.
- The seed house is beginning to fill up with baby spinach, lettuce, hispi cabbage and herbs.
- The first of our field cultivations took place in mid February during the warm weather and we have planted our early potatoes and sown more broad beans.
- We have been busy weeding the early carrots in our polytunnels and laying mypex for our rhubarb and herbs.
Vegetable of the month
Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris)
Chard is one of the most prolific vegetables with one of the longest growing seasons. In mild climates such as here in Exeter, and with careful harvesting it is always available throughout the year. And with this warmer weather we’ve been having since mid-February it is seeing a flush of new spring growth which makes it an ideal choice for our veg of the month!
Chard is a member of the beetroot family and has been eaten since ancient Greek times. It is very nutritious and is particularly high in calcium.
At Shillingford we grow rainbow chard, red chard, and swiss chard. We do three sowings each year – early April, late May and early July – and this is enough to keep us going through the winter. The seeds are direct sown into the field by Mike using the tractor-mounted seed drill. Each chard seed is actually a cluster of seeds so we aim for 12 inch spacing but often they end up much closer than this. The swiss chard is much hardier through the winter and is also later to bolt in the spring but the rainbow chard is by far the most popular with our customers. It is definitely hard to resist those vibrant colours!
Try it lightly fried or steamed. It goes well with: white beans, lentils, pasta, garlic, thyme, lemon, cumin, nutmeg, vinegar, tahini, Parmesan. The stalks will need cooking for slightly longer than the leaves.
Farm School volunteer days: Sunday 10th and Sunday 31st March
To get Farm School site ready for the new season in April, we are running two volunteering days on the following dates:
- Sunday 10th March 10.30-3
- Sunday 31st March 10.30-3
Come and join us for a day of weeding, pruning, sign making, tidying, seed sowing, sharing and friendship.For more information, please follow this link.
Emma's Bread is back!
We are delighted to be able to supply you with Emma's Bread from the Boatyard Bakery. All of Emma's Bread is made from scratch using simple ingredients: organic flour from Shipton & Clyston Mills, sea salt, and their own sourdough cultures and fresh yeast. They never use artificial additives or 'improvers'.
You can order your bread through our online shop to arrive fresh with your box delivery!