Vital Veg, organic farm, potatoes

Newsletter 12 April 2021

On the farm
The great catch up begins! As we emerge from the grasp of winter (we hope!) we can finally get going on planting our potatoes, sowing broad beans, carrots, beetroots and parsnips outdoors! Oh, let’s hope that the last of the blizzards and bone-chilling frosts are gone for this winter!
We can finally sow our cucumbers – indoors for these tender souls. We are about 10 days late with these. But there is little point risking them in the cold, or having to heat the greenhouse up from deep freeze temperatures. They grow fast when they are happy, and the warmer nights in the forecast give us confidence to get them started. With luck we will still be able to plant them in the tunnels in mid-May as usual.

Tillydaff wood
We planted our woodland in 2004 to help protect our vegetables, to provide a home for wild things, and to lift the souls of all those who walk through it. We rarely enter competitions – there just does not seem to be time to make the entries. But we are excited this year to have entered our farm wood in Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards. Fingers crossed !

Carrot tops and bottoms
Since the spate of -14 °C nights we had a few weeks ago I have been putting a note here to explain why some of the carrot tops might be cracked (where they were sticking out of the ground and caught by the frost). I now have to add another late-season note here. Some patches of our carrots have been invaded by carrot root fly. We do our best to stop these beasties using nets over the crop, but they can sneak in. We don’t see the damage until late in the season, and because we don’t wash our carrots it is hard for us to see the root fly larvae. If you encounter tunnels in your carrots, and little white grubs please don’t be alarmed – they are harmless root fly. Best just cut out any pre-loved parts of the carrots. We have increased the weight of carrots the boxes and for any special orders to cover any bits that you need to cut off for either reason. As always, if you discover anything below standard just let us know.

This weeks’ potatoes
The potato in most of this weeks’ mini, small and medium boxes is the purple-skinned Arran Victory. This is a very floury potato and falls apart quite quickly if boiled, so perhaps bake or roast (or use to thicken soups). Larger boxes have either Colleen (white skin) or Setanta (red skin). These are both good all-rounders in the kitchen.
We are coming to the end of our own potatoes and may run out next week. Collectively you have eaten over 14 tonnes of our potatoes. These came from three-quarters of an acre of our vegetable field. Each seed potato is checked and graded by hand before planting with our old-fashioned automatic two-row planter mounted on our tractor. Our planter is probably at least 60 years old, or more, and is still working perfectly! We use an old-fashioned tractor-driven potato harvester owned by a neighbor to dig up the crop once it is ready, and every potato is then picked by hand. Thank you, Potato Team!