There is some serious business to cover before we can get on to less gloomy subjects. A week is a long time in the life of the Coronavirus pandemic, and it’s clear that normal life is going to be put on hold for a while, so I am taking some of my own precautions. The one that will affect some of you is that from this week I will be minimising face to face contact with all customers. I have no reason to suspect that I am a carrier of the virus, but that’s the thing at the moment, one just doesn’t know, and so because some of my customers fall into the ‘at risk’ group, from this week I will be leaving orders on doorsteps. I already do this for the majority of drop-offs, but for my (and your) peace of mind I think it best to err on the side of caution. If there is anywhere out of the weather for me to leave your order please let me know by making a comment at the bottom of your order. If you pay by cash perhaps you could leave it in the return box in an envelope or similar.
With the rapidly changing situation throughout the rest of Europe the other thing that may have an impact on us is the availability of produce from there. I do not know what, if any, restrictions there will be on transport bringing the fruit and vegetables from Italy and Spain. I think that we should be prepared for a fairly limited range of produce being available in the coming weeks. Unfortunately it coincides with the ‘hungry gap’, when fresh vegetables are hard to come by; but we will get through it. If shortages do occur I will be prioritising regular loyal customers.
After the market yesterday I popped into Sainsburys to pick up a few items that Jennifer had forgotten. Well I didn’t pick them up because there was literally nothing on many of the shelves! Talk about panic buying, there must be some heaving kitchen cupboards; and quite where all of the toilet rolls are being stacked is a mystery. Even if restrictions on movement are imposed, I think that shopping for essentials will still be permitted. The funny thing was that the fresh fruit and veg aisles were full, but the junk food shelves were empty – just the stuff to fight off a virus infection. Anyway, that’s the last reference this week to the V word.
Last week there were a few consecutive days of dry weather with a stiff breeze, and so the ground noticeably dried out, with a bit of a crust forming on the soil surface. I even managed to get some digging done, which was a treat. I was hoping to do the first serious cultivating of the season this week, but this afternoon’s rain may have put paid to that; we’ll see how it is in a day or two. It was my intention to start pulling the radishes in the greenhouse, but there aren’t enough large enough yet to offer to everyone so I’ll give them another week. There is some rocket, but there will not be enough for everyone, so it’s first come first served I’m afraid. The seed and seedling production line continues apace, to the point where the propagating room is full, so I am having to find space in the large greenhouse for dozens of seed trays; I love this part of the season though, so much optimism.
Somebody mentioned to me a few days ago that they didn’t think that the daffodils were up to much this year, whereas I thought the opposite; I reckon they are stunning. Some of the prunus are flowering now, including blackthorn, wild cherry, and I even saw a beautiful apricot in full bloom in the garden of one of my customers on Friday, plus old favourites like Forsythia, flowering currant and Kerria japonica. Crocus, primrose and grape hyacinth are all in fine fettle at the moment too. The bees were out and about on the warmer days last week, so there is pollen and nectar for them to forage from all of these plants and more. One of the best nectar plants for bumble bees right now is the red dead nettle that are flowering on the uncultivated beds, on a nice day they are smothered in bumbles.
This week’s veg list is a little shorter than the last one, but hopefully there will be enough to tempt you. As things become more scarce you could treat the situation a bit like Ready Steady Cook, thinking up imaginative ways to use an onion, carrots, swede, a tin of pilchards and some kiwi fruit…..your time starts now…..nom nom. There will be chard, cauliflower, leeks, parsnip, carrots, mushrooms, red cabbage, swede, courgette, beetroot, garlic, ginger, potatoes, onions, very limited sweet potatoes (first come…) and very limited rocket (also first come…). Lemons are pretty small this week, oranges and kiwi fruit complete the offering. I am giving pesto making a rest for a while, so that does not feature in this week’s shop. I was hoping that there would be some wild garlic to pick for this week, but it really hasn’t come on as fast as I had expected, so you will have to remain patient.
At the time of writing the farmers market at Wyken is scheduled to go ahead on Saturday, but if things change it will affect the collection of orders from there; I will individually contact customers that this will impact should the worst happen.
I wish you good health, look after yourself, and those in the community that may need assistance as the grip on our liberty is tightened.