Riverford Wicked Leeks

good mood rain + asparagus sunday

Farmers are known for obsessing about the weather, but I think it’s justified at present. We’ve had dry springs for the last two or three years, but this time around it’s been genuinely horrendous, with no rain of any consequence in March or April. The up sum is that we have had to irrigate our carrots, onions and broccoli, which adds a good deal of hassle and cost in both moving the irrigation infrastructure around, and the expense of diesel to run the pumps.

Our potatoes have not added to the workload as they have a ‘trickle’ irrigation network laid down with the seed potatoes each year, as we know they are a thirsty crop. A system of pipes runs just beneath the soil, with a small hole every foot or so to allow the water to seep out as it is pumped through. It is very effective, with the water being targeted directly to the plant, and none being wasted through evaporation. Meanwhile when we have to irrigate certain fields unexpectedly like we did this year, we have to get the rain gun out. This contraption is a bit like a supersized garden sprinkler, which shoots high pressure water across the crop. It does not give such an even water distribution as trickle irrigation, and we have to time its use carefully to minimise evaporation, so overall I was very pleased when we finally got a good 15-16mm of rain just over a week ago. My wife Jo-ann was pleased too – apparently I’ve been in a really good mood ever since!

asparagus sunday – 22nd may, 1-4pm (free entry)
In case you did not know, we are having a bit of a get-together this Sunday to celebrate one of our favourite harvests. The asparagus came three weeks early this year but there’s still plenty left, so join me for a turn around the asparagus field where I’ll be able to give you some tips on the husbandry of this delicate veg, you can meet some of our producers, and try our inventive asparagus dishes with the Riverford Cooks. You’ll also be able to fill your boots with our organic bar and BBQ, all to some great live music. You can even harvest your own bundle, have it cooked in the very field it was picked, or take it home for dinner.

Peter Richardson