Jane Scotter & Harry Astley | Fern Verrow | Page 2

Saturday 10th January

We are back at Spa this coming Saturday. Bringing a nice array of root vegetables and winter greens. Including beetroot, parsnips, January King cabbage, sprout tops, cavalo nero kale and some winter salad leaves.

Can’t believe how the weather has been, we did our Epithany 3 Kings stir on 6th January, usually we are frozen, whilst elbow deep in cold water stirring this special biodynamic preparation.  This year was like an early spring day, bright and clear and in the sunshine almost warm. I sprayed around  the boundaries of the farm with the dogs happily coming along for the walk. One of them being the new puppy, Girlie, daughter of our border collie Bess. Had to lift her over a few fences here and there, and try to encourage her NOT to chase the chickens. I rather spoilt the moment by having to shout at her rather a lot. Hope you learns that chasing chickens is not going to get her into my good books. Fingers crossed the fox problem has eased….. however whilst driving back from school bus stop last night, one crossed over the road infont of us. This quickened my pace when we arrived home, to shut the bird house and make sure everyone was safe. I do empathise with Mr. Renard,  I know he is just doing what he does, but so are we. Just wish he’d do his thing elsewhere. So what with Girlie chasing the hens, and the fox worrying them, we are still eggless. Spring is on its way so hopefully eggs will start appearing soon.



Happy 2015

It has been a while since our last blog, haven’t done one since September. Some of you have mentioned this to me and I promise that I will try and do weekly posts again. The reason for the absence has been that Harry and I have been writing our book, and found that we had very little to say that was interesting having been stuck in front of the computer most weeks. It is  finished now thank goodness, and normal life can return once more.

The new year brings many thoughts into one’s head. A time for planning and preparation for the coming growing season. I am a little behind with seed ordering, but on Monday morning I shall bring the seed boxes into the house and take stock of what we have, open the newly arrived catalogues, get my orders in, and look forward to the heavy boxes of new seeds arriving.

The farm is well. A little ragged round the edges with it being winter and all. As we walk around the farm each morning slipping and sliding through the mud, we can see what needs doing, pruning fruit trees and bushes must start soon. This is a job we love so really looking forward to getting on with that. Can’t quite believe that the snowdrops are beginning to show again. That’s the mild winter for you.

As for the animals, the cows are in the barn, being fed on last summers hay and vegetables that aren’t fit for sale. They are really enjoying celery at the moment, which surprises me. I gave them some leeks yesterday, they didn’t eat them, too strong a flavour I suspect so we won’t have those on the menu again. The ewes are looking good, with the lambs due in April. In a month or so we will be turning them out onto the cabbage patch. This helps us to clear the field, ready for land prep and in turn offers the ewes a fantastic source of good food at a time when it is scarce. The poor old chickens however are having a tough time. Since June we have had terrible fox problems and have had well over half our hens taken by foxes. The remaining birds are scared and won’t lay which is no surprise. All our neighbours have lost their chickens too and the subject is a hot one in the parish, we pass in the lane and wind the car window down and the fox is always discussed. Hopefully as spring comes and no chickens left to steal, they will move on…we shall have to see.

We aren’t at Spa this coming Saturday but we do return on 10th and 17th January. Then we will take two more weeks off from Spa and return weekly, as normal from 7th February.


A happy new year to everyone and let’s hope for a great growing season, so that we may bring you many edible and floral delights. Better go, I can hear the cows mooing and wanting their celery hit.


Ladies in the barn



Read all about it

This morning is bright and beautiful, quite a contrast from the rest of this week which has been very wet and autumnal. Never mind I see that summer is set to return next week with 21 degrees forecast for a couple of days! The rain has helped everything to grow and the sun next week will hopefully seal the deal on the produce that needs to ripen.

We had another mixed and varied week. Lots of wet weather jobs, weeding greenhouse and general tidying up. However think that it is time to announce…. drum roll … Throughout this season we have been writing a book! Yes a book.. This has been going on for most of this year and is due for publication in May 2015. It is a primarily a cook book with 100 of recipes based on the food that we cook and eat in our kitchen using  our produce of course There will also be articles on biodynamic growing and tales of the farm. We have done two photo shoots already with another two to go. Thought that I had better announce this, as this weekend we are featured in the Guardian COOK supplement and have mentioned the book!

We will be bringing some custard white squash this week… very beautiful scalloped edge white fruits of fine flavour; that’s if you can bear to cut them, as they are truly beautiful. We have lots of plums this week and will also have (as promised) some damsons. Autumn bliss raspberries are sweet and plump.

Lots of beetroot golden and red. Onions galore .

Lettuce, celery, chard and courgettes

French beans are still producing well with runners bursting out all over having loved the rain. The first of the amazing looking borlotti bean too.

Cucumbers and tomatoes are at their best, as is the basil, parsley, chives and summer savoury.

Plenty of flowers again this week.

Think that’s about it… oh yes potatoes too… Charlotte and Maris Bard and Peer.



In their drones…

Ran out of time and energy last week to tell you about our visitors last week! Archie and Danny of Grey Moth came to visit, with them were three drone cameras. In other words big boys toys…remote controlled cameras. We do have a jolly old time here on the hills! Archie and Danny are making a film of the farm. The cameras look like large hornets and sound like them too. It was amazing to see this angle of our land, a perspective that we never see. As we viewed the footage we were thrilled to see our rows of vegetables looking neat and tidy. Once edited the film will be on our website… so look out for that.

With it being late August now we are full of bounty. Lots of great vegetables for sale. So a great a variety of truly seasonal produce on offer this week.

Busy, busy, busy

Sorry to be so dull and not have much to say, it is in fact the contrary we have had a crazy bonkers week with a house full of people and cameras. The crops have at all times been attended to and have not suffered. So roll up tomorrow as we have some beautiful fruit and vegetables for sale.

Rain at last

Having had nearly three weeks of glorious hot sunny days we have finally had a decent downpour of rain. And what lovely rain it was too, big blobs of warm rain, almost a pleasure to stand out in, can’t remember when I have enjoyed the rain quite so much. The brassica and squash plants have loved it too, they have doubled in size in just a few days. Thank goodness we did all that weeding or the weeds would be huge as well.

Sorry just another very quick reminder that we will be at Spa on Saturday as usual. Lots of produce available.

Courgettes and crooknecks  are very bountiful, as are peas and broad beans. French and runner beans too.

In fifteen minutes Harry will be picking the tomatoes, they are tasting fantastic and we will have lots for sale this week. Cucumbers too.

New potatoes are on the list with the yellow waxy Charlotte being our favourite this year.

Sorry no pictures today, however if you like you can follow us on Instagram (fernverrow) as we post many photos during the week.

Peas n beans

A very quick note to encourage you to come and buy our lovely vegetables tomorrow at Spa. We have lots of peas,  some special broad beans and four varieties of perfect French beans.

Loads of shiny courgettes and the first of our tomtaoes…

In haste….

Glorious day after glorious day

Every morning this week has been bright and sunny with temperatures in the mid 20’s by 8 o’clock… glorious summer days. This means perfect weeding weather. So of course this has been our main activity this week, both mechanically and by hand. Hot, sweaty work but easy to do with the july sun drying up the weeds almost instantly. We are all brown as berries and enjoying the no jumper, no wellies freedom. The house doors and windows open all day airing the house with the warm breeze. Happy days!

The produce is full on, with everything (almost) being of great quality. Lots of great stuff.

Fruit wise we have blackcurrants, raspberries, white currants and the first batch of white peaches- tasting fabulous due to all this sunshine.

Fresh onions white beauties and of course the red Florence.

Lots of courgettes and also a few yellow crookneck summer squash.

Peas and broads too and the first pick of some of our French beans

Lots of fabulous flowers, sold by the stem this week, look out for the café au lait dahlia, also and some very pretty fragrant bouquets, with sweet peas, jasmine and amazing, but no so fragrant love in the mist.

The cucumbers are very nice, crunchy and sweet tasting, we are eating these every day for lunch at present.

Lots of lettuce including the popular iceberg varieties that we grow




In praise of the josterberry

Fruit picking truly underway, this week we say goodbye to the strawberries for the year. We have been very pleased with them, good tasting and thanks to our new beds, easy picking and weeding. Raspberries are now in full swing, so plenty this week. However I would like to bring the rather lesser known josterberry to your attention. We  have been growing these beauties for some time now, with the competition of other summer berries they have never really taken off in the way they should. I can’t remember how many times I have been asked “what is a josterberry”? Well, they grow on a large bush and have similar leaves and flowers to a blackcurrant, without the sharp needles of a gooseberry bush. They are in fact a cross between a gooseberry and a blackcurrant… and are the best of both. Small marbles in size with a bright green flesh inside black reddish skins. The flavour swings more towards the blackcurrant. Their star attribute is the taste and their outstanding performance in the kitchen, the flavour is strong and very concentrated and when cooked for in pie, fool and such like it really shines out and one becomes convinced that they are amazing. Harrys favourite ice cream ever (his words)  was a josterberry ice cream that we made a couple of years ago deep purple/pink, in colour fruity and delicious in a vanilla based ice cream. Just last week we had a joster ripple ice cream. It was fabulous! So we ask you please give the joster a go, it is time it took a more leading role in our fruit sales. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Lots of lovely vegetables for sale this week… young baby carrots, red Florence onions in perfect condition. Lettuces galore and again looking perfect. chards, red beetroot. Our broads and peas are taking their time, not much this week but hoping to have a good amount next week…. we could do with a drop of rain. The courgettes are going strong and we have some beautiful round tondo. All the usual herbs, parsley and summer savoury too.





Beautiful bounty

Jut a quick note to tell you that we have lots of fabulous summer crops to harvest and sell this week. Amongst the bounty is a full selection of soft fruits including raspberries, red white and black currants. Strawberries, josterberries and gorgeous loganberries,

Lots of lettuce, chard and salad bags, and the first of the cucumber. Beetroot and red Florence onions too. The flowers are now into the hot pinks and reds of summer.