I clearly had a senior moment when ordering produce for last week’s deliveries, because, as many of you found out, I forgot to add apples and sweet potatoes to my order, so your boxes were somewhat lighter than you were expecting. I placed my order on the day I had my vaccine, so I am blaming my temporary memory failure on the one side effect that has not yet been attributed to it. Apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Our backyard hens are so looking forward to April 1st, for it is then that they are allowed their freedom from a long winter of confinement. The Government has reduced the Avian Flu risk level to ‘Medium’ so it is deemed safe for the girls to be let out to carry on their programme of garden destruction. Other poultry keepers seem to have much less of a problem in this regard; I remember when Francine Raymond lived at Troston, her garden was beautiful, and so well maintained, yet there were always chickens mooching around it. Our hens scrap and dig in every border, and peck at and flatten most things growing in them. We keep talking of restricting them to the far end of the garden where they can do less damage, but this winter that area has had standing water in it constantly (having a spring in the garden doesn’t help), so we will have to wait for the water table to go down before we consider moving them.

In other bird news, a pair of Blue Tits have been checking out my bird box. I’m not certain they have started nest building, but they have been in and out a lot, and they have been doing some work on the entrance hole to get it to their liking. It will be great if they raise a brood in it only months after I made it. My friendly hen pheasant, Blossom, is getting very bold. Not only does she come to see me when I arrive to get a meal, yesterday afternoon she came inside the potting shed to hoover up some seeds I had scattered for her. She could be feeding from my hand soon.

I have taken delivery of a trial batch of the Black Garlic I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It is currently much loved by chefs and foodies; Ottolenghi reckons that it is the pantry ingredient that you can’t do without. To inspire you here is a recipe that he uses it in https://ottolenghi.co.uk/recipes/aubergine-with-black-garlic It is supplied in a pack of 2 for £5.00 and it is certified organic. Waitrose is selling it at £4.00 for 1 bulb. It’s clearly not something that everyone will be interested in, but if you fancy something different at Easter it might be worth a punt. Supply is currently limited.

Talking of Easter, deliveries this week will be as normal, so if your regular delivery day is Friday you will still receive your order on Good Friday.

There are one or two changes to this weeks availability list. There will be some Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Swiss Chard – both in short supply, but I am hopeful that there will be enough for everyone. There will be sweet potatoes this week, carrots, beetroot, parsnips, swede, onions, red onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Potatoes are Cara and Linda. Linda is a heritage variety bred in Germany and has waxy yellow flesh. I’m sorry to say that there are no baking potatoes this week. Small blood oranges are still available, Gala apples are back, lemons and kiwi fruit are both on the large size this week so I have had to reflect this in the price.

We have the promise of a brief spell of very pleasant weather – sunny and warm, so it will make your legal garden meet-ups all the more special. By Thursday the temperature will have dropped back again, but let’s be grateful for any bit of cheer that’s available. If the ground conditions are right I will plant the first early potatoes, and I’ve got some lettuce to plant in the polytunnel, along with a trial of some mangetout peas.

Right, it’s 6.30, there’s another hour of daylight, so I might go and potter about in the garden for a while. Have a good week – don’t give me too much chocolate, Hot Cross buns are more my thing. And why not come along to Wyken on Saturday, it promises to be a very good farmers’ market with lots of interesting vendors.

Phil

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