Guy’s news: Grey bananas & early lettuce

As the last vestiges of snow retreat into north-facing hedges, we are counting the cost brought by the tail of winter that arrived at the beginning of spring. Despite valiant efforts from our drivers, we had five lorries loaded with 30,000 items of produce stuck in the snow, plus many Riverford vans that had to abandon their rounds. Over the last few days we sorted through the returned orders, re-using hardy, unharmed veg like carrots and potatoes in this week’s boxes, and did our best to find homes for what was too ripe through local schools and charities. Bananas were the biggest casualty; they got too cold and turned an unappetising grey.

On the land, the thaw combined with heavy rain and has left our soils sodden, re-opening springs that have been dry all winter. The target dates for planting the first cabbage, lettuce, peas, broad beans and potatoes have passed, and the backlog of plants is building up in the greenhouses and hardening-off yards. With no sign of settled weather ahead, the chances of planting this month seem remote. It is frustrating not to be able to make a start, but the soil is still cold; experience has so often seen later plantings quickly catch up and often overtake those planted weeks earlier in poor conditions. We must be patient; at least it allows time to complete our winter tree planting and maintenance, though mercifully our polytunnels, which are not designed to support heavy snow accumulations, survived largely unscathed. We often lament the steepness of our land which challenges mechanisation and so adds labour cost, but it does have the virtue of draining rapidly and drying quickly; something we are glad of this year.

Meanwhile, 250 miles further south we have been planting crops in the sandy, well drained land on our French farm for two months already. We had nights of -6°C last week but, with the help of crop covers and low-level tunnels, the first lettuce will be ready for your boxes in just two weeks, thanks to the superior light quality and milder conditions. It has not been an easy year, but the growing experience of our team there has helped us to make the best of it by grabbing what weather windows we get.

Guy Singh-Watson

14 responses to “Guy’s news: Grey bananas & early lettuce

  1. Hard to imagine what happened to the bananas: I often freeze bananas if Im travelling off to distant parts & upon my return, I let them thaw out, then slice off the small end bit & squeeze out the fruit which turns into a perfectly delicious tasting smoothie after adding mixed berries, apple or pears & blitzing.

  2. If I have more bananas than I can easily chomp in a week I keep them in my cold garage. Yes – they do turn “unappetisingly grey” but only on the outside. Inside they are as good as ever. I can see why supermarkets wouldn’t want to display these sinister looking fruits but no problem for vegbox people, I’m sure! We are used to dealing with funny looking fruit & veg.

  3. Some fascinating accounts of just how the weather has affected your produce, your delivery drivers and the waste (or lack-of) elements. On your point, that it has not been an easy year, when is it ever, in these days of climate extremes.

    Keep up the excellent work.

    Best Wishes

    Tony Powell and naturestimeline

    *on a side-issue, why does Guy or whoever posts up the blogs never revisit them and answer customer queries and questions. Blogging is supposed to be an interactive experience and a learning tool.

    • Hi Tony, a good point here regarding our interaction on the blog. You’re quite right, and we fully acknowledge we’ve slipped; we’re working on it.

      • Thanks, for your honest reply to my comment that I personally feel there is a lack of appropriate interactions on here and that it lessens the learning experience. I’m equally pleased that you are looking into this aspect.

        Best Wishes and, please do keep blogging.

        Tony Powell and naturestimeline

  4. I am filled with admiration!

  5. “Tony Powell and naturestimeline

    *on a side-issue, why does Guy or whoever posts up the blogs never revisit them and answer customer queries and questions. Blogging is supposed to be an interactive experience and a learning tool.”

    I’ve often thought this too.

  6. Agree about freezing bananas, then you can make triple thick milkshakes and if you slice them with the skin on, the skins have extra nutrients in them plus extra fibre which helps feed your friendly gut bacteria.

  7. Congratulations to the driver who made it to our house last week. I was (happily) really surprised to find the delivery even though the road was snow covered.
    Thanks for such a commitment.

  8. Slice bananas and put them in the freezer for a few hours then mush up (food processor is best ) they make a great, cheap, healthy and yummy ice-cream!

  9. Stephen Sampford

    I have thought it essential – in my senior, more contemplative years – to know the food that I consume and use. Where and from whom it comes; how it is produced and what the struggles in doing so are. To give thanks for it, the people, and the land that provides it for me. It is therefore of great interest to hear news of all the up and downs involved in your newsletters. To be given insights and introductions into an agricultural, community understanding, long since taken away from us all. Basically, what I believe I am saying, is thank you. God bless all and our precious fertile lands.

  10. thanks to magnificent and generous efforts from Vanessa and Russell to deliver last week in Bucks…

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