Guy’s News: Rampant vegetation & bucolic harmony

Last night I dreamt of being entombed in rampant foliage under an impenetrable forest. After a wet June, Devon is cloaked in luxuriant vegetation; branches and hedgerows are sagging into roads under the weight of it and paths walked freely a week before soak legs with encroaching dewy nettles and cow parsley. Most years a lack of moisture is restricting growth by now but, with the sun at its zenith, the air steamy with humidity and soil temperatures still climbing, growth shows no signs of slowing. Anyone trying to manage it, be they gardeners or farmers, will be able to interpret my dream.

In my early years as a grower, June would typically bring feelings of panic and occasional despair as plans which seemed so achievable when conceived in January’s hibernation disappeared under weeds. Of course real wisdom lies in appreciating untidy diversity; working with nature with minimal intervention rather than fighting it with mowers and herbicides (for some). Such heady and bucolic harmony is our aim, and we’re getting closer, but we would still lose the good fight without our tractors; yet for the last two weeks they have been parked up, waiting for the soil to be dry enough to support them without compacting it. The weeds, which we like to hoe from their roots in vulnerable infancy, are getting a hold and will be harder to kill; leek, cabbage and lettuce plants are stacking up in the yard and our sowing programme is disrupted.

A cause for concern, but nothing that a few dry days will not sort out. The inevitable mud is clinging to veg and no doubt to your kitchen and fridge; we avoid washing veg where possible, partly as it keeps bettter that way and partly to remind you of its origin, but is it time to reassess? Opinions welcome.

In case this sounds like a farmer’s moan, I should say that most crops are as lush as the hedges; so despite a little woe it looks like being a pretty good year.

22 responses to “Guy’s News: Rampant vegetation & bucolic harmony

  1. Please don’t wash the veg! I love it when it arrives all covered in dirt and looking like it has just come from the allotment. It does get the kitchen counter top a bit messy- not just the counter top- but it is one of the highlights of getting my boxes-to open them and discover real veg the way it looked when my mother used to bring it in from the veggie patch. Plus, I can imagine it saves time, cost and a lot of energy to scrub it up when I am sure that effort would rather be spent in the fields.

  2. Not so keen on the mud but understand why, love the irregular shapes of the veg though!

  3. I wish I could agree with the comments above but I have a family of soil-phobics. I’ve given them lots of my own home-grown veg throughout the last 20 years and still they complain about how they like theirs supermarket-clean. I despair: clearly I’m not destined to be a Leader of Change. So the cleaner it can be, the less likely they are to prefer the soap-tasting standard variety of carrots et al ….

  4. Thank you … I need keep doing a little judicious pruning in order to shape them as I’d like!

  5. Please don’t wash the vegetables. Not just for all the reasons you’ve already mentioned, but for our part on taking some responsibility in helping out as well. If I wanted washed vegetables, then I would go to the supermarket. I wash my vegetables, no problem at all.

  6. Guy, I totally agree with Kate – in fact sometimes when the box arrives on a Friday I am heard to complain that the veg looks a bit too supermarkety now. I’m a bit of a veteran – we’ve been box customers for 15 years or more and one of the things I love is turning that pile of muddy vegetables into fantastic food. Vicky – my kids used to think it was strange to buy veg that way when we could get clean carrots from Tesco but now guess what? They’re grown up and my baby grandson is being weaned on Riverford veg. In some ways it’s too clean now – I used to love being able to tell when it had rained the previous day in Devon because of the clagginess of the box contents! Like Ana said, just stick them under the tap.

  7. I agree with Kate and Ana – Keep the mud! Well worth the small effort with a veg scrubbing brush.

  8. Mud, mud, glorious mud … no harm with us having to work a bit too! It might be mildly annoying but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It keeps us in touch with how our veg grows and it keeps you more productive where it matters.

  9. Keep the mud as much as you can. We’re a two-person household, and don’t always use up our veg quickly enough. I need them to be able to keep, especially when I’ve run out of space in the fridge and they have to make do with the not-very-cool next best place.

  10. Please do not wash the veg. The mud, i.e. unwashed veg, is one of the reasons I buy from you and not the supermarket clean but water-sodden carrots etc.

  11. I’m happy with the mud!

  12. Marigolds and a decent scrubbing brush is all you need, I agree with the other mud wallowers, besides think of those extra vitamins we’re ingesting. Please don’t deprive us of our mud !

  13. Please don’t wash it. Lasts so much longer covered in soil/mud. I too wd go to high street shops if I wanted squeaky clean veg but I don’t!!!

  14. trina hardiman

    I love the mud! The best thing to do with it is treat it as quality bonus compost additive – rinse it off in a bowl, then tip the lot onto your conpost heap/ your doorstep pots etc. It brings a little countryside into our urban lives!

  15. I like the juicing carrots washed please. It helps me make large glasses of juice for the whole family before school.

  16. Sorry to the lady who wants to give the kids juice for breakfast but the carrots could always be washed the night before….I completely agree with the previous comments re two-person households needing veg to keep, and valuing the muddy peelings going into the compost. My husband will wash everything in a big sink of water but I think that’s a waste of carbon-costly water and just peel first and rinse off once peeled. Just heard a great Radio 4 programme about gut flora and reckon Riverford veg must be so very very much better for this-so why be too keen to get rid of it?

  17. I am happy with the mud too. It really does help the veggies to stay fresh for longer. Thank-you for them – they are a highlight of each week.

  18. Lose the mud as domestic plumbing cannot copre

  19. Mud mud glorious mud. My dirty veg keeps longer. I use a nylon scourer to clean them (my husband kills brushes!) and a bowl of water which gets tipped into the compost or outdoor plant pots.

  20. Seems a no-brainer, if most of the comments above are representative. However, they might not be, so perhaps we should have a referendum!

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