strawberries & broad beans

Our six week drought came to an end with at least 3 inches of rain in the last week, the final downpour so intense that all the gauges overflowed. Our parched soil gratefully sucked it in with no run off and you could almost hear the crops grow!

The strawberries have suffered a bit and though we have managed to pick a few between the showers, the lack of sun means they are not yet tasting great and the birds are getting more than their fair share. We plan to have them on the extras list from this week (but check the website for availability) with the occasional guest appearance in the fruit box.

Broad beans are a vegetable that divides the nation so I was delighted this week when a visiting four-year-old demanded a third helping, without so much as a knob of butter to adorn them. Tedious as it is for us to pick them so small and you to shell them, they are definitely best at this stage. This is the earliest we have ever started picking. They will be in the boxes at least to the end of June (to be followed by the French beans and runners in August). I recommend them warm on their own or in a salad while young. If they arrive larger and more robust (marketing speak for tough) later in the season, it is time for parsley sauce and soups. Though shelling beans with friends and family can be fun and therapeutic, life is too short for skinning the beans themselves. Jane in the Field Kitchen would disagree.

Long-standing customers will know my passion for growing, cooking and eating globe artichokes. With 9 acres we are, I think, the only commercial producer in the UK. From your comments (someone fairly described them as