early asparagus + swallow watch

It seems that after a troublesome winter, things are finally working with us. The mild, dry weather of late means we’re well on schedule with our planting. Around 120 acres of potatoes have gone in; a mixture of varieties including Valor, Bambino (one of my favourites), and Nicola. We’re going to need a bit of rain at some point soon, but for now we’re not complaining. The first of the calabrese broccoli and our broad beans have also been planted, and covered up with mesh designed to stop insects attacking the crop. This makes it very useful in organic farming, though we tend to use it more to fend off hungry pigeons and rabbits.

Meanwhile I took a turn around the asparagus field the other day, and rummaged in the earth to see how they were faring. I’d had a nagging worry in the back of my mind that they might have been damaged in the brutal winter, along with all the cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli that we lost. We were expecting to harvest in late April but after finding tips just under the soil surface, it looks like the crop will be two weeks early because of the warm spell. Of course this is very welcome but I wish someone could have emailed me a warning! Unfortunately the weeds are well on the way too and it’s particularly difficult to clear around asparagus as the spears can be broken if you go too deep. The other danger now is if we get a late frost (which we are susceptible to), as any spears exposed would be damaged. Those concerns aside, it’s lovely to finally have something to harvest. It feels like the farm is coming back to life again and there should be plenty for our Asparagus Sunday on May 22nd, so put the date in your diary.

The one thing we have not seen yet is the first swallow, and that’s always a cause for celebration. Normally it happens late April, often tying in with when the asparagus is ready. When they arrive, we know things have really kicked off for the year – they love the stables and outbuildings and near enough everywhere here on Home Farm gets well swallowed-up!

Peter Richardson

P.S. It’s business as usual for us over Easter so expect your box delivery on your normal day.