early bunches

We are starting our first carrot bunches this week, enabling us to move out of the short window of reliance on imported Italian crop. Stan and the team on the farm are into the first block of Napoli that will last through to September. By then the foliage will start to deteriorate so we will make the switch from Napoli to the variety YaYa going into the boxes loose. Both faired well for Stan last year and unlike the retched Nairobi (that is ubiquitous in supermarkets) -they taste great!

By and large all the crops planted over the last few months have established well. The only two concerns that Stan has is one field of carrots planned for later in the year and half a field of squash and courgettes. The carrots were planted at the same time in two different fields. In one field the crop has come up and established well, in the other there is no sign of it. Despite Stan's 42 years of experience, many things in organic growing remain a mystery. Plants are pretty sensitive in their seedling state - so it could be just that the soil conditions have not been quite right to encourage the seeds to germinate.

It is a similar situation with the field of courgettes and squash. You can see a clear line down the middle of the field. To the right of the line the plants are patchy. Many have died away and the remaining survivors look a little forlorn; but to the left of the line we have close to 100 % establishment and healthy lush growth. Again we are not absolutely certain what has caused the effects but we think it relates to the crop in the field last year. The poorly established block is where we grew brassicas. It could be a pest or disease that attacks the brassica family, that has over wintered in the soil to awaken this Spring to attack our courgettes. There is no point in getting too distraught about the odd thing not going quite to plan - after all that's part of the beauty of nature.

Rob Haward