I am writing this on Friday afternoon, and it is a glorious day - blue skies with the sun full of warmth, providing a perfect distraction from the mud and water underfoot in the vegetable fields. I have spent the morning working on our vegetable cropping plan, and with lovely weather outside my office thoughts turn to Springtime and planting young vegetable plants in the fields. I realise that the weather forecast has other plans and with the prospect of subzero temperatures and snow on the horizon for this weekend we’re firmly still in winter’s grip.
Despite the cold spell ahead and the present wet conditions, we still plan to start planting next month, with potatoes, lettuce, beetroot and kohl rabi being some of the first vegetables to be planted in the field.
An absolute delight for this time of year is Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Purple Sprouting Broccoli is the tender side shoots of the plant. Harvesting the broccoli is a slow methodical job, picking the shoots by hand, and when a bitter NE wind is blowing across the marshes it is cold work. Vanessa is helping Judith with this year’s PSB harvest - whatever the weather. As the days get longer and the temperatures rise the plants produce more of the delicious stems. At times Judith, whilst stood in a sea of plants, has commented that it feels like the shoots are growing behind her as she goes down the rows! Cucumbers and Courgettes in the summer are the other crops that give us that endless harvest feeling.
This winter the rows of Purple Sprouting have a resident hare, who seems as startled as we are when we see him. When we disturb each other he bolts down the field out of our way. Another welcome visitor in the PSB field this winter has been a Snipe - it’s been a few years since I last saw one on the farm. Of course, the little finches continue to flock to the broccoli fields to ‘clean up’ any lurking bugs!
Image: Vincent van Zalinge