muddy leeks + predators

It’s a relief to have some let-up from the ice and snow. What with vans getting stuck, leeks freezing into the ground and pipes that took until the new year to defrost, I really hope that was it for this winter. The temperature range was very dramatic, going from -15°C to +9°C in two weeks, which can have a big effect on the vegetables. Sadly, it’s the second year in a row our caulis and late purple sprouting broccoli have failed. Very disappointing, they’re two of my favourite vegetables; I might have to resort to Jerusalem artichokes now (I’m no Marmite fan either).

Sorry if you have been cursing us at the sink, muddy leeks in hand. We have had 26mm of rain over the last two weeks, which washes mud down between the leek’s layers in the field (wellies are essential when we harvest them). I know they can be a real trial to clean and the best tip I have heard is from a Welshman who used to work at the farm. Insert a knife just above the bottom of the leek and slice it up to the top, splitting the leek in two with the halves still attached at the bottom. You can then fan the layers out and wash the mud away under a running tap, shake off the excess water and put the halves back together for slicing.

This week, we start weeding the strawberry beds in preparation for this year’s crop, which makes me think ahead to drier, sunnier times. Maybe they are not too far off. There are already some signs of life on the farm; the other morning I saw a weasel running about. Apparently we have a family of them living in the woods near the reservoir. Weasels feed on small mammals, so the fact that a family has taken up home here is a (slightly gory) indication that the farm is buzzing with wildlife. It’s common to see more wildlife on organic farms, where hedgerows, woods and wild spaces provide animals with a natural habitat. So although the rabbits won’t be too pleased about the predators on their patch, it’s all part of nature’s life cycle.

Gordon Twigg, General Manager