The last few weeks have been perfect growing weather with some much needed rain putting an end to the constant moving of irrigation around the farm, and some humidity that gave the plants an extra boost. Consequently, this is peak season for our own produce, so make some room in your freezer and make the most of these bountiful crops the way the older generations used to! Now is the ideal time to pick, blanche and freeze sugar snap peas, mange toute and shelling peas ready for the winter - a really cheap way of preparing for the winter.
Also available for Pick Your Own at the moment are gooseberries; lots of fruit have already been picked and now is the last chance to collect these. Similarly raspberries, loganberries, tummelberries redcurrants and blackcurrants are in abundance at the moment and the chefs are busy 'Jamming', in the words of Bob Marley ready for the Big Weekend this weekend (...read more below). Also, after some hard work on the part of the farm staff, carrying around 30,000 strawberry plants into the tunnels, we will soon be able to resume 'Pick Your Own' on the strawberries (there was a bit of a lull between crops). These '60 day plants' that are cropping now have been frozen to allow us to manipulate the seasons a bit, which means that when they are defrosted, planted and pollinated, they have loads of stored energy and take almost exactly 60 days to produce the most fantastic, HUGE, strawberries. We will be picking these for sale (with lashings of Rodda's cream or one of James' meringues) at The Big Weekend.
The Market shelves are full of our own produce; courgettes - yellow, round and just the normal variety, runner beans, broad beans, marrows (the fantastically stripey 'badger - cross'), cucumbers are flooding in from the farm - we're getting some pretty whacky shapes and sizes which is, in itself, a great lesson for kids about what home- grown food really looks like. Bunched carrots are abundant, as are our own bunches of beetroot, purple sprouting, radish, globe artichoke, rhubarb, fennel, apricots, lettuce and more. We will soon be picking our Kol rabi - that weird combination of turnip and cabbage popular for use in oriental cuisine and - my favourite - our own tomatoes will be ready for picking any minute now. Fresh off the plant, they taste like nothing else.
This really is the best time of year to visit the farm and see it at it's working best!