Winter 2019

Winter 2019

It has been awhile!

Hi everyone, wow it has been so long since I have sat down and pumped out a blog! What happened? Well you know, the usual story. Farm life can get pretty hectic and before you know it, more than two years pass – oops!

Well lets get straight into it then.. I will get the negative stuff out of the way first haha..

We have had a real tough battle against all sorts of pests and diseases this last season. It is always a problem but this last summer has been exceptional. Did you notice that the baby spinach has been a bit crap and hasn’t been keeping as long? Well this is because it has been smothered in powdery mildew. One morning I asked Charlotte how the spinach was looking as she was harvesting it (this is after about 2 months of constant scrounging for good stuff). She says “it’s a bit furry”- oh dear, feckin spinach! (Please excuse my French – it comes to this sometimes). On this same day I had reached my wits end after trying to find leafy greens for the weekend markets. They were either eaten by caterpillars or smothered in mildew. And so I say to mum and dad “just get the chemicals out! I will spray it on myself!” It wasn’t a proud moment but it had gotten to that point. Of course, mum and dad being that much older, wiser and more experienced in these times of stress (I have only had eight years – ha!). They managed to talk some sense into me and convinced me that all will be ok. Which as it turned out, it was – not surprisingly. Dad had found an organic spray that helps with mildew and we noticed a big change within two weeks. And now five weeks later we are managing to get enough spinach to make it worthwhile growing again – finally!

Now let’s move on to the caterpillars… Holy moly! We have never seen such an infestation ever! These are not just the little green suckers you usually find but huge brown things (here’s me ferociously tapping at the keyboard!). These guys are VERY hungry caterpillars. Dad had to add an extra organic spray into the week to get on top of it. And now we are hoping to get some good frosts to get rid of them – not looking good so far. We have only had one frost and we need at least five.

And now for some good news.. After eight years the dill has decided to grow (shock, horror!) – thanks to mum. I gave up on it and swore to never grow it again. Mum however, has got that magic touch. This is hard for me to accept sometimes, I may have said to her “I hope it gets mildew and dies” – this is in tongue and cheek by they way. Mum and daughter can’t work together unless some stick gets flown every now and then.

Mum has an area in the greenhouse to grow various flowers and all sorts of other wonderful plants. Catnip we have found to be a real hit at the markets. Mums cat Harry, goes a bit crazy with it. If you purchase a plant from us and it looks a bit flattened it’s because he has been smothering it (don’t worry, it will still grow). I think it acts as an aphrodisiac, it’s so funny to watch him. The idea is that it will keep cats off your other plants – but then cats being cats, this can’t be promised.

Now it is July, the veggies are coming to a standstill but so far we think we have enough to see us through the next six weeks (that is when we start to notice new growth after the winter slumber). We take this time of year to rest as much as possible. The stresses that come with growing and working with the changing weather patterns can take its toll physically and mentally. So it is time to take a breath and recuperate so that we have the energy to gear up for the season ahead.

Saying that we are already starting to look at planning the next season. Today, dad and I discussed on where to grow the courgettes this summer. We normally grow them under cover but we think they will do better outside during the mid-summer period. The plants can really suffer in the humidity. Two years ago we dumped the whole crop in February because the main stem had rotted from the inside out and snapped in half. We should have been harvesting them right up until May/June. But you soon learn to accept that you can’t control the weather patterns, there is simply good years and bad years with each veggie. And we just do our best to mitigate it.

Over the next few weeks we will be waiting in anticipation for the seed companies to send out their latest catalogues. We will spend quite a few hours going through them and getting inspired for the season ahead. This year I would like to grow a bigger crop of pearl drop and purplette onions. These were so tasty and they were a real hit at the markets. I would also like to grow more of the miniature watermelons. I trialed them this summer and they were so sweet and delicious. You can eat them like an apple. It was a bit too hot where I planted them so I need to find space somewhere else and grow more of them.

You might have heard that we have been working on a new website for the home deliveries of our veggie boxes. This is really exciting for us, we believe this to be the future of our business. We will always do the markets but when we get those wet weekends our income drops to about half (we have some pretty awesome customers who still come out when there is a thunderstorm going on! If that’s you, thank you!). Being in a labour intensive industry we needed to find another way to sell our produce. We love what we do and we want to keep the business on a reasonably even keel (ha!) and we believe online is the way to go. It also means we are able to keep full control of our business i.e. no middle men, mum and dad have been there, done that – didn’t like that game. That is, supplying supermarkets – we were the biggest supplier of fancy lettuce from 1983 until 2010. But that story needs a whole other separate blog – or two!

The new website will have some new features including the option of being able to subscribe weekly or fortnightly. So a box will show up without you having to login and place an order every week. You can pause or cancel it anytime and you can make changes to the order as you go along. We are also integrating the site with the courier company so when we scan the ticket as it leaves our farm, an email will be sent to you with your tracking number and you can keep tabs on its journey to you.

Well if you made it here, thank you for reading this. (I am still ferociously tapping at the keyboard just thinking about those caterpillars, how can they cause so much damage!?).

So until next time (surely not in two years?).

Take care,