Riverford Wicked Leeks

cow invasions + healthy harvests (mostly)

If there’s one thing you can guarantee about life on a farm, it’s that you never really know what to expect. We had an eventful weekend recently when I wondered if we would have to replant some crops; twelve cows from a nearby farm escaped when a rambler left a gate open, and the herd decided to take a stroll across our Russian kale. Fortunately they were very gentle and all was well (though I’m pretty sure they enjoyed the odd mouthful here and there).

Over the past month it’s been a busy time pretty much everywhere. There have been many days when I wish that we could squeeze more than 60 minutes out of every hour. I think that we could spend all day every day weeding the fields, let alone planting and harvesting! We’ve put in a new batch of strawberry plants and the winter brassicas are looking good which is always a relief, seeing as they are a big part of what goes into your vegboxes through the cold months. The onions are almost all harvested now; as we planted approximately 5 million of them across 33 acres, it’s not surprising that it takes a while to get through them all. Most are now safely in the barn drying out, which will allow us to store them through till January. Meanwhile with 40mm of rain this month so far and temperatures peaking around 25˚C, our broccoli has had a growth spurt, producing enormous broccoli heads; one can feed a family of four. Now that’s value for money! I am pleased to say that the leeks look as good as they did last year too. They seem to like the soil here at Sacrewell.

Sadly there have been a few victims to blackfly including our true spinach, perpetual spinach and chard; the whole crops were wiped out. As you know, we use no pesticides and are reliant on nature to help us control pests, and we think that last year’s harsh winter reduced the population of natural predators such as ladybirds and hoverflies. We were unsure earlier in the season whether the beetroot would survive as it was also attacked by blackfly, but it fought back and now the whole crop looks amazing. Perhaps the old saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ applies here!

Nigel Venni