winter warmth + spreadsheet mockery

Down on the coast here in Devon a few gale-beaten and confused primroses are already in flower, along with the first daffodils; the snowdrops seem to have a more reliable clock though, and are holding back. The soil is so warm we we'd even consider planting a few early potatoes on the most favoured ground in west Cornwall, if the soil dried enough. What a contrast to last year when we were buried in snow and struggled to harvest a few cabbages in the brief afternoon thaws.

Most crops are looking wonderful but running four to six weeks ahead of schedule. We have our best crop of winter leeks for years; purple sprouting broccoli, which normally struggles to produce a respectable yield before late February, is already cropping well; we have some lovely Savoy and January King cabbages along with the very tender if premature spring greens. However we are struggling with onion quality as a result of the wet summer which made it tricky to get the well-sealed neck that allows onions to keep. Rather than condemn the crop we are grading ruthlessly and hoping for a bit of tolerance from you if a bad one slips through. As always, please let us know if this happens and we’ll happily offer a replacement.

All our cropping is meticulously planned, based on 25 years of accumulated experience to keep the vegboxes full and varied with the minimum of imports. However the contrast between last year and this makes a mockery of our spreadsheets. There’s a slight concern that the profusion we are now enjoying will leave us short of greenery for the boxes in April while we wait for the new season crops. But right now we are happy farmers.

King Edwards are generally considered the best all-round, main crop potato. However due to their susceptibility to diseases, they are thought to be virtually impossible to grow organically. Always up for a challenge, we grew a small trial area last year and offered them for Christmas. They were fantastic; the best roast potatoes I can remember, so this year we'll try some more. Meanwhile we’ll be regularly alternating the potato varieties we send you to keep things interesting, and complement all those tasty greens.

Guy Watson