It has been a very long time since we sent out a newsletter to you. I want to let you know that we are going to be putting up a new much more up to date website in a few days time. If you wish to continue your subscription you will need to re subscribe on the new one. I will send out a reminder just before we put up the new site ( hopefully next week) For those of you interested in perhaps receiving a regular box of produce from us ( London only at the moment ) you will find more information there, plus we will have an online shop, at present only our book is for sale , but we have plans !
We are also planning to have a few open days and plant sale days so if you wish to know about those don’t forget to subscribe.
The skeletal forms of the trees outside our kitchen window are no longer bare, without question spring has arrived, the view is now a haze of light green as the buds burst open and darken with the sunlight. Everywhere is looking its best, especially since we have had a good drop of rain. The grass is green as green can be, and the sheep and cows are contently eating it as fast as they can. This has to be the best time of year, the hedgerows and verges are full of wild flowers, cow parsley, cowslips and bluebells. We are having an easy time of it with near perfect conditions for us to progress with sowing, planting and general maintenance. The Verrow looks full of life and potential.
The greenhouse is being very productive with radish , spinach and lovely salad leaves for this week. Herbs too are plentiful…chives, lovage, thyme and sweet cicely for sale too.
Last week at Spa I was saying how much I was looking forward to seeing the colours of the tulips we planted last Autumn. I remember selecting the bulbs and planning very carefully that they would not all come at once. The best laid plans and all that. This warm sunshine of the past has rewarded us with quite a show, some amazing colours pinks, oranges and plums. Please come to Spa and buy some as we have loads and they are fantastic.
Land preparation is going very well, the first of the peas and broads are showing through the soil. The beds will be made today, ready to start drilling seed tomorrow. It is amazing how every season is so different. This year is an early, steady start and we have taken the time to prepare the land carefully and thoroughly. We have spent a couple of days picking over the fields removing docks and creeping buttercup. This keeps the weeds under control and makes our work easier in the long run. Not the most exciting of jobs, shuffling along the field making piles of weeds to gather up and burn on a bonfire at the other end of the field. It is pretty hard work, the backs of my legs are a bit stiff I must say. At the same time the long monotonous hours allow for thought and contemplation, and in my case a lot of humming to ones self.
Nice greens and herbs again this week…. tulips, tulips, tulips, come buy my lovely tulips!
Last week we were still in winter, no sign of leaves on the trees or hedges. On my return from London on Saturday it felt as if I had been away for a week….what a difference a warm sunny day can make. The grass was greener and that yellow haze on the trees, showing signs of leaf. Much work done at the Verrow this week, looks like we are going to get a much wanted early start to this season. First batch of peas and broad beans sown and plumping up in the warm fertile soil. The greenhouse is full of tidy rows of growing seedlings, radish, rocket, pak choi and spinach, all of these hopefully making their appearances in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile we have lots of greens to offer this week ruby and green chard, glossy beetroot tops, purple sprouting too. A few bunches of spring flowers too.
Just a quick note to let you know that we are at Spa this Easter Saturday. We will have some really nice produce for sale this week. Green and ruby chard from the greenhouse tasting very good indeed. Salad bags, parsley and a good quantity of purple sprouting. Kale tops and a few over wintered cauliflowers. Also some GORGEOUS hyacinth, a foot tall, and smelling divine.
All well here on the farm, and me returning to normal, whatever that is! See you on Saturday.
I am sorry that I was not at Spa last Saturday and am also very sorry to say that I am also not able to make it this week either. I have had an operation and the whole thing involved quite a few more stitches and more recovery time than I had planned or wanted. Truly no need for flowers or chocolates to be sent, and I promise I shall be back to normal from next Saturday. I hope that no -one is too disappointed.
As last season draws to a close, a new one is beginning, we will make our first cut into the soil with the plough this weekend to start the preparation of the beds, that will become the hosts to plants and seeds over the coming months, always an uplifting and exciting time. Spring has arrived and growth has begun. We will have to wait a few more weeks until things start to be harvested. However next week we will have some delicious chard from the greenhouse that has now reached its prime . Hyacinths are tall and perfumed. Purple sprouting, kale tops and a few cauliflowers, perhaps some rhubarb and maybe the first of the chives. We will also be keeping an eye out for the first shoots of the foraged crops, ransomes, jack by the hedge etc. Tulips a few weeks away, I can’t wait to see their colours.
Until next week and apologies again.
This week has been a fine week, both in the weather and in the job satisfaction stakes. We have been outside everyday, all day…. tidying and cultivating. The herb beds have been tended, some new plants and trees, planted and everything looks smart and cared for. Yesterday was so warm that we went down to shirt sleeves. I was positively hot in my waterproofs and the warmth of the sun on our faces was welcome and uplifting.
Spring is truly showing herself with bulbs and new flushes of green appearing. If this weather continues we will be turning our thoughts to ploughing and muck spreading. However this does mean that we are entering what we growers call the hungry gap… the end of the over wintering crops, and not quite the beginning of the new season. So not many varieties to offer this week, the last of the cabbages, some gorgeous small leeks, purple sprouting too. Red Russian kale looking a gorgeous purple and pink.
Happy to say that we do have some flowers for sale this week, some gorgeous scented hyacinth, blossom and iris. Not sure how we will present them just yet, but not doubt we will find inspiration. Come and have a look they will be pretty.
Much work done at Fern Verrow the last couple of weeks. With the weather being kind and generous we have been able to work outside most of the time. Still too early to work the fields of course, the soil needs to warm up quite a bit yet, for any seeds or plants to thrive. However the beginning of the new season is in sight, with tulips popping their first leaves through the soil.
Our greenhouse is looking immaculate, and a few quick cool season germinators have been sown and should produce some spinach, radish and pak choi in a few weeks time. Pruning is the name of the game…roses done and fruit trees and bushes have been started.
We are back at Spa this Saturday, sorry about the gap. Cabbages, turnips and kale tops. Lots of salad bag ingredients tasting and looking lovely.
So all back to normal now, after our break from the weekly trip to Spa. The time has flown by and we have accomplished quite a lot. The seeds for this season are arriving daily and are waiting to be unpacked and put into boxes, awaiting the time when the sowing begins once again. Meant to have started the pruning, but with this cold, icy weather it is best to wait and with next weeks slightly milder forecast, I think we will start then, a job we love to do.
We have also “signed off” on our book. The final proofs having been read many times, we know it off by heart and occasionally find ourselves reciting it as we carry out our daily tasks that we so carefully described word by word. Very happy to have got it all done to the schedule. We look forward to seeing and holding the hard copy in a couple of months time. For now we are happy to see the back of it, and to have a rest from it and return into the fold of the farm.
Squeezed in a batch or two of marmalade making also these past couple of weeks. The caramel marmalade with its intense bitter sweetness that can only come from Seville oranges and a long slow two day process.
Vegetable wise we are still into the winter crops of course. Purple sprouting makes an appearance this week for the first time in a decent quantity. Leeks, parsnips, turnips and red beetroot all on good form. The flowering process has begun on the kales, so plenty of sweet tops of cavolo nero and Tuscan kale this week. Salad leaves are plentiful and their fresh clean flavours and texture very welcome. January king and Savoy in the cabbage dept.
See you on Saturday!
First snow of this winter with us yesterday. The farm looked very pretty first thing with a clear sunny day. Thankfully it didn’t stay too long, it has now been replaced with rain and strong winds. Extra rations for the sheep and chickens in this harsh weather. Have started to sort through seeds, throwing away old seeds ( chickens get those) and cataloguing what we have and making notes. All of last seasons memories come flooding back, the winners and loosers the highs and the lows. It is an exciting time and I look forward to placing my orders next week if all going well. After that Harry and I will be getting on with the pruning of fruit trees and bushes. This is a job we really enjoy, we did a big overhaul last year, so in general they are in good condition, and will only need a trim here and there.
A reminder that we will be at Spa this Saturday, but not the following two. Back on 7th February. And no we are not going to the Bahamas!