We have just about finished picking our plums and, like so many crops this year, the news is pretty disastrous. The trees were planted as saplings in March 2008 and have yet to reach their full potential; back in the spring things looked good but the rain knocked most of the blossom off and later in the season the trees dropped most of their fruit as they got overstressed. We picked over four tonnes last year and were expecting more (perhaps 6 tonnes) this year, but the final tally has come in at a mighty 427kg! Hearty portions of plum duff look to be thin on the ground in the Field Kitchen…
View across the fields
On a lighter note the remains of the Broad Beans that we harvested in June were rotovated in and the last of this years lettuce planted in their place. The few remaining bean pods have apparently decided it is now spring and we have miniature self-seeded plants poking their heads up amongst the Cos. I picked a few sprouting tips for Rob, our resident genius in the Field Kitchen, so if anyone is heading in that direction this week they may get some of the most unseasonal veg I have seen in a long time!
Broad beans mixed in with batavia and radicchio
This week Guy talks about spinach, broad beans, turnips and the rain we’ve had on the farm.
what’s what in the box – 26th july 2010
This tends to be small leaved and succulent. We also grow spinach beet and swiss chard and you can use them all in similar ways.
True spinach can be washed and cooked as is but if you’re cooking swiss chard or spinach beet, pull the large stalks off. Wash it quickly and cook in a pan over a moderate heat with a lid on.
After 2 or 3 minutes it will collapse on the bottom so you can then turn it over and cook again for another 2 or 3 minutes and then it’s done.
When it’s finished cooking, put it in a colander and run some cold water over to refresh it.
We’re coming to the end of the broad bean season now but the later ones are usually better quality. If you have the time, you can boil them for 5 minutes then slip them out of the skins.
These summer turnips are very succulent and sweet. It’s usually better to peel them and then you can roast them with carrots.
Broad beans are now in season and are grown on our farm in Devon. These beans were drilled in the autumn from dry beans and picked in mid June.
We sow some beans in Autumn and some in Spring. If the Winter is too cold, the Autumn sown crop doesn’t always survive and if it’s a wet spring, the later crop may drown.
In the early stages, the plants are covered with mesh to protect them from crows and other pests. After this, they don’t need a lot of attention.
Try cooking broad beans and adding them to roast artichokes and new potatoes. We’ve also got a recipe for broad bean and goat’s cheese omelette here.
Every week we’ll give you tips on using the difficult to use or less known veg in the boxes. This week, Kirsty talks about broad beans and pak choi.
what’s what in the Riverford box – 21st June 2010
Broad beans have just come into season and they’ll be in the boxes now.
Keep them in the fridge and take them out of their pods when you need to use them. The easiest way to pod the beans is to put your nail in the side, run it down the side of the pod and pop the beans out.
To cook the beans, pop them in boiling water and blanch them for about 4 minutes. Once they’re cooked, take them out, leave them to cool and pop them out of their shells.
Try our recipe for broad bean, mushroom and bacon salad here.
This is a Chinese cabbage. The leaves can be used raw in salads like lettuce and you can use the whole veg chopped thinly into stir fries or noodle soup.
To prepare it, remove the leaves and give them a wash, cut the leaves into strips then steam or stir fry.
Try our recipe for stir fried Asian noodles with pak choi and chicken here.
For more tips and recipes, visit our YouTube Channel
Half the staff are lost in the broad beans, picking with deft, nimble and (I hope) well motivated fingers, moving systematically up the rows like marshalled locusts. A bean top rustles now and then and occasionally a head pops up to carry out a completed crate, but otherwise they could all be asleep in there.
Ben worked all weekend and managed to get the last broad beans sown just before the rain came. The ground was still frozen in places making it a battle for the cultivators; not ideal sowing conditions and I would be feeling nervous were it not for the memory of our best broad bean crop ever being forced into a damp frosty seed bed. We now face the war of wits to keep the crows off the field until they are established.
Miserable in the fields this morning as we return to the normal warm, wet and muddy Devon winter. Beetroot bunches just too muddy to be acceptable for the boxes and all had to be hosed off in the yard. Very short of greens for the boxes; still feeling the effects of a poor growing year followed by a cold winter. Ongoing debate with the co-op members about what constitutes an acceptable green cabbage. Think we will agree to pay less and double up the small ones in the boxes rather than hope that they will grow on the field and risk losing them.
Off to France tomorrow to finalise the purchase of our farm in the Vendee and to look at the crop trials we are doing there. All being well we will be growing early crops there for the veg boxes next year. Didier, the retiring farmer, has become so enthused by the project that he is staying on as a partner.