Riverford Wicked Leeks

was that winter?

The first fruit trees are in leaf and we are buried in a tidal wave of cauliflowers, brought on by the continuing ridiculously mild weather. Our first cabbages and lettuces are ready for planting out and the soil is certainly warm enough for sowing carrots and planting early potatoes. Unfortunately any attempt to make a seed bed would just create a soggy airless pudding and would damage soil structure, so we must be patient and wait for that elusive break in the weather.

Most of our winter crops are running ahead of schedule. A few are still waiting for winter to bring on their adolescence. Many crops indigenous to the temperate latitudes have evolved and then been bred to expect a winter. They need the thermal trigger of cold weather to bring about their sexual awakening by telling the dividing meristem cells to switch from initiating leaf cells to flower cells, thereby preparing for procreation. This vernalisation process makes them ready to produce a flower, and seed or fruit the following summer.

The winter hardy purple sprouting broccoli is one of our favourite and most reliable crops, providing some wonderful greens through the