Vital Veg, organic farm, cabbage

Newsletter 27th September2021

On the farm
A wet start to the week! Spare a thought for our harvest team braving the rain today. They are hardy, but harvesting in the rain can be tough going. We are glad to see the rain, as some of our brassicas are getting a little thirsty. The price for sudden deluges (apart from getting soaked!) is that it causes splitting in our sweetheart cabbages. Sadly we have lost some of these as they have basically exploded! The last of the unexploded ones are out in the boxes this week. They do sometimes split after harvest, so please bear with us if yours has done this. As usual, do let us know if anything is unacceptable!

We managed to get all our potatoes safely harvested last week. We have also taken the chance to rake up and burn the couch grass that was growing among the potatoes. We have spread the ashes back on the soil, and this area will be sown later in the week with our over-winter grazing rye and vetch mixture to lock in the nutrients. We don’t often burn the couch grass – only when it begins to get a hold. Doing this after the potato harvest is ideal because the potato digger lifts the couch out of the soil at the same time as the potatoes – so making relatively light work for us! Anyone who has tried to dig couch grass, otherwise known as “string weed”, by hand will know that it is not a job for the faint-hearted. So, a big thank you to our wonderful neighbour, Gordon, who comes to help us with his tractor-drawn potato digger every year!

Elsewhere on the farm
The oats are all harvested and the straw baled – thankfully before the change in the weather. But we still have our unharvested crop – a mixture of triticale, barley, flax, phacelia, fodder radish, clovers, plus some corn-field annuals (poppies, corn marigold, cornflower) and a few indulgences (cosmos, Californian poppies). As its name implies we don’t harvest this crop – it is for the birds. This, along with hawthorn berries, elderberries, brambles, rosehips, wild raspberries and guelder rose berries in our hedges helps provide winter food for our feathered friends.

Talking of birds – the swallows are still here (at least yesterday, when they were zooming round the yard!) and are now massed into a flock of maybe 100 birds. I am sure that they will leave any moment on their incredible journey.

Lastly, we are excited that we will soon have some Shetland cattle visiting our farm woodland for a few months. They will be here to do some “conservation grazing” to help boost the diversity of the woodland understory, providing more food and more homes for wildlife.

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