Yes folks, it’s holiday time; earlier than usual, in fact much earlier than last year when we went in August. The summer is not a good time for me to abandon ship, but a bit of rest and relaxation will do me the world of good, and will set me up to tackle the rest of the season refreshed. It’s actually not too bad a time to go in terms of having the place minded in my absence, because it’s before the tomato, courgette and bean picking period, which becomes quite onerous for poor Margaret who looks after the place for me. The main tasks that she will have to perform are; opening and closing the greenhouses and polytunnel, and watering in the greenhouses. The polytunnel drip irrigation is on an automatic timer, so that’s one thing that she doesn’t have to worry about.

So the implications of my departure on Friday morning are as follows: all deliveries will be made on Thursday this week, there will be no collections from Wyken, as I will obviously not be at the market on Saturday. I would like you to get your orders in by Tuesday evening if possible, as Wednesday will be my harvesting day this week. The availability of produce is even more limited than last week, as I wasn’t prepared to be left with any bought in items so close to my holiday. As a consequence, for this week only, I am removing the minimum order charge, as I know that some of you may struggle to reach it with what is available. Everything will return to normal in the week commencing Monday 1st July, with a more comprehensive offering of produce. Thank you for bearing with me.

Well I’m not going to complain about a lack of rain, the garden is good and moist after a week of on and off precipitation. I was lucky at Moyns Park, because the rain that fell was generally fairly steady, with no violent downpours, which I know some areas had. It has certainly made potato digging a far less arduous task, though the spuds have got a bit more soil on them than before the rain. I planted the rest of the main batch of courgettes, and more runner and French beans last week, so they will have really benefitted from the wet conditions. Unfortunately it was a cue for the slugs to emerge in their thousands from wherever they had been holed up, to wreak havoc in the veg patch. It is inevitable in organically grown vegetables that some of the unpleasant gastropods will end up in your kitchen sink when you wash your greens; without the use of potentially harmful chemicals there are no practical measures that can be taken on my scale of growing to eliminate them, so you had best learn to love them…..or not!

I have bad and sad news to report. On Friday, and yesterday, I saw my lovely brown hen pheasant, and she had no chicks with her. From 19 to zero is a real tragedy for her. I don’t know if cock pheasants usually share parental duties, but she was definitely a single parent, and sadly she was unable to care for her brood….bless her. Today, up on the moat by the ‘big house’, I watched a heron take a Moorhen chick and fly off with it. The natural world is brutal at times, but it’s the circle of life.

Right, I had better tell you what is available for you to purchase this week. Sadly it does not include apple juice, as I sold the last bottle at Wyken yesterday; there will be no more until late summer. What is available is, cabbage, lettuce, broad beans, chard, mushrooms, new potatoes, carrots, curly kale, chives, very limited Globe Artichokes, honey, pasta, parsley pesto. Sorry, it’s not much, so don’t feel bad about missing a week if there’s not enough to tickle your fancy. By the time I get back from hols I think that the cucumbers will have started producing decent numbers of fruit, but tomatoes will remain a few weeks off.

Thank you to everyone that contributed to the debate on plastics. Opinions and suggestions were mixed, reinforcing my assertion that it is a difficult and complex issue, and that there is no easy answer to it. Quite coincidentally, since writing last week’s blog there has been a plethora of TV and radio programmes on the subject, as well as articles in the print media; it’s a real problem of our time. I will continue to explore alternatives to single use plastic packaging, and minimise their use in the meantime.

I have a busy few days of planting, weeding, grass cutting, harvesting and delivering before I can don my mankini and head for the beach. Currently the weather forecast for Cornwall does not look too promising, so it’s more likely to be thick jumpers and waterproofs, but it will be a lovely break. It will also be a long journey and an exciting adventure for Nellie; she will not be short of playmates on the beach, but I see her as being the whimp barking at the water’s edge while the other dogs plunge headlong into the waves, but I am prepared to be proved wrong.

Have a good week.

Phil

 

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