best laid plans beaten by the weather

With the continuing cold, our normally dependable cabbage, cauliflower, leeks and purple sprouting broccoli have barely moved on in weeks. This has compounded the effect of a mild and sunny autumn which brought crops planned for January forward to November, and so we find ourselves very short of fresh green veg from above the ground to balance the roots from beneath.

The protective leaves of cauliflower open as they approach harvest, leaving them vulnerable to the slightest frost. At this time of year they are grown by Peter Wastenage within a few hundred metres of the sea. The sea cools more slowly than the land and, with the help of the gulf stream, never drops below 8˚C, so we expect the prevailing south-westerly winds off the sea to keep these fields frost-free. But the winds have been coming mainly from the north and east recently, and the fields are an apocalyptic vision of frost-damaged brown and rotting heads.

How did we get it so wrong? It wasn