Monday 10th May 2010
The winter rains have started and things are starting to get pretty muddy out in the fields.
A fair amount of our wonderful soil is finding its way in to the boxes on the bunched carrots. Junior, the variety that you are getting at the moment tastes fantastic but is very fragile and will not stand the rigours of mechanical harvesting which is why we are still hand lifting and bunching. This should be the last week before we get onto the more robust winter carrots, which can be machine harvested, brushed to remove most of the mud and bagged. I have always been dogmatic in my resistance to washing the roots because this damages the skin (whilst sloshing about in a bacterial soup) with the result that flavour is rapidly lost.
Carrots are a biennial, with the roots serving as a natural means of storing food from one year, to be used in flowering and seeding, the next. Provided they are handled reasonably gently, during the winter, they should keep for weeks or even months in a cool dark place without any loss of flavour.
The squash and potatoes are now all safely in the barn and we have harvested about a third of the winter carrots. The biggest task ahead of us now is hand planting the garlic and over-wintered onions. They need to be well established by Christmas to give them the best chance of surviving the rigours of winter and crows. All being well, they will be ready for harvest next May and June.
Pumpkins never have the culinary quality of winter squash but the small