In the field:
Everything is growing so fast - it feels like you spend a day in the field weeding and doing things and there are more weeds than at the start of the day!!
Definitely a broken record now but in case you missed it, this is very definitely hungry gap time, a particularly tricky time for businesses like ours - we've mentioned before that lots of veg box schemes stop completely during May as it's just tough going. Spring is exciting but not when there is nothing to be harvested.
Local veg at the moment is just hard to come by - Chris was chatting to Owain from Bryn Cochyn last week about the stored potatoes, and asked if we needed to drop our spud prices temporarily to just get rid of what's left from last year before the new potatoes arrive. He quite rightly pointed out there is actually a lot of work involved in going through the potatoes, sifting out the dodgy ones, etc, and so reducing the price actually isn't helpful!
This made us think and we realised that we are the same in the field. We are trying our best to do the fiddly job of prolonging leaves from spinach and chard plants that are desperate to bolt, and even harvesting salad all takes a lot longer than normal... which is all quite frustrating as we are flat out trying to get all the crops ready for later in the year!! The other tricky bit is that the decent produce that is coming through now, like organic asparagus and organic UK tomatoes, are considerably more expensive than the root veg. When you are buying this stuff in this sends your profit margins through the floor. Oh well - it's not every week that we get to eat UK asparagus.. enjoy it!
So what have we been doing? Still a bit of harvesting - chard 8kg, around 30 lettuces (some of them quite diddy!), 2 kg of spinach and salad, 2kg of rhubarb.
Pricking out - this week we have pricked out another 240 lettuces, another 500 or so leeks, a tray of cabbages.
Sowing - we've sown a load more peas and beetroot, and everyday we take about 20 trays of plants outside and then bring them in again in the evening - hardening them off before planting them out.. It's quite a mission. [sorry, it definitely sounds like field notes from a slightly miserable farmer this week! - don't worry it will be cheery news again soon]
In the boxes:
Small - potatoes, red onions, carrots, mushrooms, leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, cherry tomatoes, salad/lettuce/spinach
Regular - potatoes, red onions, carrots, spring greens, asparagus (in the small boxes next week!), cauliflower, cucumber, red pepper, chard, blueberries
Potatoes, carrots and onions are all the last of the stored harvest from last year so just need to stretch them out until we get the new crops (not long!). If you get a squidgy one, please bear with us as we are doing the best we can to remove them before they get in the boxes but the odd one may ge through.
In the shop:
Potatoes, onions (brown and Roscoff), carrots
Cabbages - red limited
Mushrooms - chestnut and white
Purple sprouting broccoli
Red peppers limited
Salad* (and maybe some heads of lettuce)
Tomatoes - cherry and heirloom
Fresh garlic / turmeric / ginger
*from Prion - not quite sure how much if any of the leady greens there is left after the boxes this week but we'll do what we can.
Fruit: Oranges, lemons, apples (Gala again), grapefruit limited , clementines limited, blueberries, kumquats, bananas
Also Pentrefelin milk, free-range eggs and Nant y Felin sourdough. And Tusw Tlws flowers - only a few bunches of these available and we are selling out so let us know if you want some and we'll put them to one side for you.
In the kitchen:
More chard help in case you need it - such an amazing veg especially at this time of year when so little else growing in the UK. Got a new book last weekend called 'A Year at Otter Farm' by Mark Diacono, will write more about it when have had a chance to go through properly, but he splits the recipes by season and has two chard recipes which are about as simple as you could ask for.
Stir-fried chard leaves: Heat oil in wok/large frying pan over a high heat. Add the chard leaves (chopped with stems removed, or he says you can include the stems if you slice very finely and add a few minutes before the leaves) and stir fry for a minute or two. Add garlic (1 clove, chopped) and chilli (1/2 small medium-strength, finely chopped) and stir fry for another couple of minutes. You can also add balamic vinegar (1tbsp), or ground ginger (1 tsp) and soy sauce (1 tbsp) in with the chilli and garlic. Then just add salt and pepper. Great wirth anything creamy.
Pickled chard stems: [this is a new one for me!] Dissolve 75g caster sugar and 2 tbsp salt in 300ml white wine vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat. Add spices (1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, 1 cardamon pod bashed) and 1 bay leaf, increase the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. While the spicy vinegar is simmering, cut the chard stems (he says 8 x good-sized ones) into narrow batons - to a length that suits the jar you're using (needs to be sterilised). Put the chard batons into the jar and pour the spicy vinegar over the top - will keep a month or so in the fridge.
Also now I'm a tahini fan (thanks to the many shop customers who recommended it!) this tahini roasted cauliflower recipe from Riverford looks fab and am going to try - some of these caulis are big and need some imagination to use up!