June update: The problem of rain or lack of... and new produce this month
It already feels like a long hot summer yet we are only at the beginning of June. April showers are long forgotten, but the vicious hail storm of early May isn’t. It wrought havoc on our crops, nearly destroying the spring onions and battering the greens. You may have noticed the ‘spotty’ onions in your boxes and the somewhat ragged leaf on the Greens. Fortunately both have now recovered and are looking good and back regularly in the boxes.
Elsewhere the lack of rainfall is beginning to give us the odd sleepless night. The reservoirs are steadily going down and the irrigation gang is working throughout daylight hours, 7 days a week. Why is it that a main only ever blows on a weekend usually in the evening?! A phone call from one of the village dog walkers in summer usually only means one thing – a fountain of water somewhere on the farm! All our crops need a drink once a week in this sort of weather and it is all we can do to get round all the crops in a week before starting again.
While the falling water levels are a challenge (including washing the mud off the boys after they have got stuck at the waters edge), it presents a wealth of opportunity for local bird life. Egrets, small and large, Grey Herons, Little Terns, Kingfishers and Cormorants are all regulars now as the fishing gets easier. The Kingfishers are residents so we are looking forwards to seeing their young practicing flying up and down our yard alongside the smallest of the reservoirs where they have their nest hole in a bank.
This time of year brings a bounty of produce. In addition to our salad onions and spring greens, we have strawberries and raspberries from Ardleigh, cos and apollo lettuce and wild roquette are from Frating and Thorrington. We’ve also joined up with yet another local grower - Remfresh from Ardleigh in Essex. The Smith family have been growing beautiful, Michelin-star restaurant quality baby vegetables for generations and you will find it in our boxes from this week. Our ‘English grown’ box will soon be a ‘locally-grown’ box!
Samphire is coming off the marsh for the gourmet boxes. Our Trombocino courgettes, field cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes are a month away and while our own rhubarb has finished our own apricots and plums are on the horizon.
We have also worked hard to improve the quality of the produce, ironing out a few gaps in the cool chain and sourcing more directly the produce we don’t grow. We hope you notice the improvement. We also continue to add quality local food makers, Sunnyfield Honey, Good to go Granola and Calvors Beers. A few more steps to a perfect weekend!