Riverford Wicked Leeks

thunder storms and the british summer...

We have had two horrendous thunderstorms in the last week, each delivering just over two inches of rain. The second, dumped most of its load in about twenty minutes giving even the most open, well structured soil no chance of absorbing the water before it started running off down the hill. Even our pastures became a sheet of moving water. The lightening took out all the telephones and internet connection so if you have been frustrated in your attempts to get through, this is the reason.

Most crops seem to have survived well. I would anticipate finding a fair amount of mud trapped in the lettuces over the next few weeks as result of those huge drops splashing soil-laden water into the crop. We have lost a small amount of soil from some fields, which is upsetting, but watching the deluge I am relieved that it is not worse. We were saved by the ground cover provided by our weeds. The open, well structured nature of our organic soils also allowed the rain to percolate into the soil faster than a typically low organic matter, poorly structured non-organic soil with the result that there is less run-off and less chance for erosion. We normally leave a wide grass strip at the bottom of the field and in most cases this has trapped the soil and we will periodically haul it back up to the top again. Many years ago it used to be part of the tenancy agreement with the Church (our landlords until we bought the farm) that a prescribed number of cart loads were hauled back up the field each year. This was known as "draying the voyeurs"; the voyeurs being the margin or headland of the field.

The warm and steamy weather is great for most of the crops, and though we live in fear of the fungal diseases (like potato blight) that normally follow, the boxes are getting better by the week and finally contain almost all our own produce. This week sees the first broccoli, Kohl Rabi, cucumbers and even a few of our own tomatoes, though most of the tomatoes are still from Guernsey plus a few from Spain.

Guy Watson