August update: harvest, figs and a turtle dove
Well it hasn’t started raining yet and today is set to be the hottest day of the year, albeit we have our fingers crossed the potential thunderstorms later don’t bring hail. Summer hail hit us earlier in the season and can wipe out crops in minutes, smashing leaves and allowing in infection and disease. As usual, our fingers are crossed, and we hope they miss us.
This week has seen the first flush of fruit in our fig orchard. This orchard is the only one of its kind in the UK and includes 7 varieties that we chose because we thought they have potential to produce fruit commercially in the UK. Planted in 2012, they suffered a difficult start – who knew that fig bark is relatively sweet and a magnet to deer in a snowy winter?! Having had the first signs of success with a few varieties in recent years, we were surprised when the Dauphine produced fruit for the first time this year. A mild tasting floral fruit, it is nice to have another variety beginning to show promise. However, we still prefer the smaller, sweeter beautiful crop we get in November from one of the other varieties. Again, fingers crossed!
As we look forward to August, it is with a degree of trepidation. We are busy harvesting our larger acreage crops as well as it being a key month for land-work; cultivating fields, drilling, and establishing crops, which we will be harvesting throughout the winter and into next year.
Our heirloom tomatoes will also be in full flow; a few slices of Black Krim or Brandywine on toast with a dash of Hillfarm oil and some Maldon salt is now our breakfast of choice for the next month. Just add Picketts Free Range eggs and Wicks Bacon and you have the perfect way to start the weekend. Please let us know your favourite tomatoes and what you do with them!
Finally, there has been huge excitement amongst some of the older family members. The soundtrack of our childhood summer evenings was always the gentle purr of the beautiful Turtle Dove. They are now highly endangered due to modern farming methods, loss of habitat and hunting on their migration routes. However, after a few suspected hearings in recent weeks we spotted them back on the farm earlier this week. Hopefully, they are here to stay. Rest assured I will be spending hours trying to get another glimpse and a photo for the next newsletter when I should really be doing something in the office!
Due to some valued customer feedback, we will be introducing 3 new Fruit and Veg boxes to our range. A ‘Totally Green Box’ containing (yes you guessed it) all things green! (typical contents will include greens, lettuce, trombocino courgettes, kale, spinach, green beans), a ‘Salad Box’ containing all things salad (typical contents will include lettuce, peppers, salad onions, tomatoes, cucumber, new potatoes) and a ‘No Potatoes’ Box containing everything BUT potatoes! (typical contents will include carrots, onions, greens, garlic, apples, oranges, bananas, lemons). We will also be selling boxes of our delicious heritage tomatoes too – you simply must try them!
New items in the pipeline include a range of gluten free bakery goodies, Jekka Teas and even some luxury chocolate to add to the ever-growing list of wonderful items from local producers in Essex and Suffolk.
Enjoy the nice weather, stay safe and thank you for supporting Holt Farm.