This is such an exciting time of year for organic growers: All the new crops are being propagated in the polytunnels or sown directly in the field, and everything is starting to come to life as the sun warms the soil.
Broad beans, onions and potatoes have already gone in directly into the ploughed fields, and many hundreds of tomatoes and peppers have been potted on–we keep them warm at night with fleece and bubble-wrap blankets in case of a late frost! The baby bunched carrots are coming on a pace in the tunnel, as are spinach and chard. By June, we’ll have sown many hundreds of thousands of seeds for a non-stop supply of delicious organic vegetables for your boxes: 100,000 carrots and leeks, 30,000 parsnips, 30,000 caulis, calabrese, and cabbage, as well as beans, peas, onions, squash, courgettes, and so on. But all this work is in preparation for boxes later in the year.
For although the sun is finally starting to shine, and the countryside is stirring into life, we are now smack bang in the middle of the “hungry gap” in the UK. It’s the name for the period from around late March to May when all the winter crops are either starting to dwindle (or are reaching the end of their shelf lives), yet the new crops we have sown are not yet ready. For UK growers, the next few weeks can be a little frustrating, to say the least! For the die-hard seasonal fans out there, we are proud to have been supplying so much of our own produce for so long. At times in the last month the small boxes have had 100% of our own veg.
But while many of you would no doubt be prepared to swallow the “seasonal sword” and simply dine on purple sprouting broccoli and leeks and salad leaves grown at Westmill, our priority is to offer you with the best tasting, most flavoursome veg we can, and to provide sufficient variety in your boxes to keep you happy! So you will see a little less of our own veg in your box between now and June. At this time of year we increasingly rely on our trusted organic wholesaler in Hereford, and other local organic growers who have a surplus, to top up what we cannot supply ourselves. But come June, as the season turns again, we will an abundance of our own delicious organic crops and find ourselves struggling to fit it all into your boxes. And looking at the fields and tunnels, I can promise you this summer will be very tasty!