coming through the cold

The cold snap that we have experienced blowing in from the North Sea has mixed blessings for us. The lettuce and broad beans are all covered with a thin layer of fleece that offers some protection from the elements. But Stan has never grown lettuce on the peaty land in Yaxley before, so the impact of night temperatures that drop to minus 5 degrees was unknown for all of us. The broad beans are now fairly well established and have become quite hardy. They give you a little bit of a scare after a hard frost as the leaves go limp and the edges blacken - but a few hours later, as the sun comes out and the temperature rises, they are back to their sprightly form of the previous day. The lettuce however are much more vulnerable. It's a heart in the mouth moment when you unveil them to see whether all the plants that have been bought and carefully transplanted have made it through the night. Thankfully the fleece has done its job this time. A few plants near the edge of the fleece have suffered but for the most part, the early crop has made it through unscathed.

The forecast of hard frosts is always a worry, but a cold snap also has its benefits. Lots of insect pests like cabbage root fly and cabbage white butterfly will pupate through the Winter ready to emerge as adults as the days lengthen in the Spring. The Winter cold snap acts as population regulator, helping to control the early pest invasions that can be devastating.

Pears and tomatoes

We are sorry that some customers in the last couple of weeks have received pears and tomatoes that are not up to our usual standard. The Williams variety of pear has caused us problems in the past, as it rapidly turns a very dark colour when handled and transported if it is getting a little too ripe. So we have taken the decision not to stock this variety anymore. The tomatoes have been pretty bland as the sun has refused to come out in Spain and Italy. Thankfully, the weather is now improving which is noticeably increasing the sweetness of our tomatoes.

Rob Haward