living with the deluge

Yesterday, as an end of term treat, I persuaded (bribed) my sons and a tribe of their recently broken up mates to weed my artichokes. As the rain came down it was not long before the first covert, chickweed-bound mud ball flew, followed by all out war. Whilst they celebrated the adhesive and malleable properties imbued by the 30% clay content of our soils, this, in combination with the unseasonal deluge, has made harvesting a messy job. Every hand, foot, knife or crate that touches the soil comes away encrusted with mud. Try as we might to keep things clean, pulling, sorting and bunching onions and carrots in these conditions is inevitably adding unwelcome mud to the boxes and your kitchens. Perhaps we should grow on sand or peat like everyone else but I remain convinced that it is, in part, our complex and often difficult soils that make the carrots taste so good.

According to our (not very reliable) rain gauge we have already had as much rain this month as in the previous four months put together; almost six inches. The first three inches were very welcome; it disappeared rapidly as the thirsty ground sucked it in. The following two inches were begrudgingly tolerated and slowly percolated through to the subsoil. Now we have had enough; the soil is fully charged and at