back to the rain and mud

It was too good to last. The shorts have gone, the wellies are on and the farm drying room is full of damp steaming waterproofs. After a gloriously settled September and October we are back to our more familiar cyclonic pattern with a succession of gales rushing in off the Atlantic bringing rain and mud. Fortunately we are on top of the work, having planted the last of the autumn onions, most of our garlic and broad beans but the regular weekly picking has to be done whatever the weather. All the potatoes and about half the carrots are now in store. I am a bit worried that we even got a little ahead of ourselves; the dry weather tempted some premature lifting before skins were properly set.

I hope you are loving those greens. The mild autumn has brought most crops to harvest three weeks ahead of plan. There are bumper crops of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and leeks. We have now finished the lettuce and sweetcorn from the fields but fennel, spinach, chard, butterhead lettuce from our tunnels and other salad leaves are still going strong.

Being the ultimate scrooge, all my friends and family will be getting a jar of home preserved artichoke hearts this year. As I pick the larger heads for the extras list, the smaller ones go in my pocket to be boiled in wine, vinegar and spices before being preserved in olive oil. Should you lack the time, the artichokes or the inclination but remain resistant to diving into conventional gift shopping I recommend www.sendacowgifts.org.uk. for some easy, if slightly worthy, shopping. Send a Cow was the first organisation to do the