Vital Veg, organic farm, cauliflower

Newsletter 20th September 2021

On the farm
We have had a good week harvesting potatoes! Like many growers we have been short-handed for our harvest though, which has meant longer hours for fewer of us. But, six of our expected seven tons of tatties are now safely in our store, with the last ton due to come out of the ground this Wednesday. If you are a potato connoisseur, then have a look in the vegetable section of our online shop, and maybe add a few of these beauties to your order. We have 10 different varieties, spanning a whole range from the most floury (Mayan Gold and Arran Victory), through to salad potatoes (Nicola and Bambino), and a spectrum in between. We have red skinned (Setanta), purple skinned (Arran Victory) and pink and white skinned (Pink Gypsy). We have snow white fleshed ones (Arran Victory) through to creams (Nicola) to golds (Mayan Gold). So, if you are search for the best baker, boiler, masher, creamer, steamer, chipper or however you love your potatoes, we have the one for you!

Protecting our soil
As our potatoes come out we are preparing to sow an over-winter green manure to protect the soil. The seeds arrived today (Monday) – a mix of fast-growing grazing rye with strong roots that bind the soil to protect it from winter rains, and winter vetch which will take nitrogen out of the air and add it to the soil. Together these plants will improve the soil before we plant the next vegetable crop here in May next year. Once the last of the potatoes are lifted we will tidy up the ground, removing any couch grass, and then get these seeds sown! Hopefully they will grow quick, but it is always a bit of a gamble sowing in September. So, we will see!

Shortage of pickers
You may have heard on the news about the terrible waste of cauliflowers and broccoli in NE Scotland this year. Tens of thousands of these have already been ploughed back into the ground – not because they are bad, but because there is no one to pick them. These crops, along with potatoes and carrots are increasingly grown on rented ground by fewer and fewer, larger and larger companies. They grow vast acreages, and are dependent largely on migrant labour because vegetable picking is low on the list of desired jobs of native Brits. The migrant workers are a force of nature, work extremely hard, and to a very high standard. I have worked alongside them, and know how good they are! Now that so few of them are here produce is sitting unharvested in the fields of the big growers. We are lucky, being small, and having our own local staff. We have missed our Eastern European helpers for our potato harvest, but we are small enough to cope without them – and we are able to harvest all our cauliflowers. Big might be cheaper, but it is not necessarily better or more resilient.

It really helps us keep our own prices level if you can return our boxes regularly and in good condition – please wipe them clean and leave them out for us to collect when your next delivery is due. THANK YOU