digging & sowing

It’s bright, dry and frosty and we are busy digging parsnips for Christmas, lifting carrots, sowing broad beans and picking sprouts. The weather is due to break again at the weekend but I am hoping that by the time you read this, the last of the carrots will be in store; hurrah. 

It is still too wet to lift the last of the potatoes; they are stuck in heavier ground and will probably be there until spring. Conventional (non-organic) growers often lose their crop to slugs but one of the benefits of organic growing is that in our more active soils, there are plenty of natural predators and parasites which keep slugs under control. In soils which have been organic for five years or more it is relatively rare to see slug holes in potatoes. We have enough spuds in store to see us through to spring. We are grading through some King Edwards ready for your Christmas boxes. They are the very best potatoes for roasting but are generally viewed as almost impossible to grow organically, so a big well done to Andy Hayllor for managing it in such a difficult year.

We ploughed for the broad beans yesterday, worked a very rough seedbed and sowed while the surface was frosted in the morning, allowing the seed drill to work without getting clogged. Not an ideal start, but broad beans are tough and we have managed before. The field is covered with a net to keep hungry rooks at bay and all being well these will be the first beans in your boxes in June. We are also gearing ourselves up for the big sprout pick. A few are grown by our co-op in Devon, but they are easier in manage in the colder, drier East where they suffer less from the fungal diseases that make them such a hard crop to grow organically. Most are handpicked; a back breaking and finger numbing job. Some will be in the boxes on stalks if the quality is good enough.

Finally, Merry Christmas from us all at Riverford and a big thank you, particularly from our growers, for supporting us through the deluge. May your feasting be sumptuous, your company agreeable and your resting restorative. Here’s to a drier 2013.

Guy Watson