Well that was one of my least favourite weeks doing this job. The heat was relentless – energy sapping, with everything becoming a chore. It was too hot to work in the greenhouse or polytunnel after 9 am, then it became too hot to work outside, then I was let down by my supplier when they sent me some sub-standard vegetables, then I struggled to prevent all of my own produce from wilting, then on Thursday when I usually fill the veg boxes for delivery it was too hot to pack half of the contents, so I had stacks of boxes with Post It notes on them with lists of items I needed to add on Friday morning from the fridges, then I got in a muddle and forgot to add some items to the boxes, then I was about to throw the towel in, because I wasn’t enjoying any of it! A paucity of sleep didn’t help either.

Actually last week got off to a good start, because on Monday I had most of the day off so we went for a picnic by the river. Nellie had a wonderful time splashing through the shallows, and we enjoyed paddling amongst the shoals of tiny fish that drifted about in the current of the crystal clear water. By the time we left our lovely spot on the bank late in the afternoon the river level had risen by at least 6 inches compared to when we first arrived. That river is used as a conduit for transporting water from the river Ouse in Norfolk to top up the Essex reservoirs, so it doesn’t always flow at its natural rate, and it just so happened that at the very time we were in attendance the sluice gate was opened further upstream. Before leaving the river we were fortunate to have a good sighting of a Grey Wagtail dipping in and around the stream. The bird’s name does it a disservice, because whilst it is grey, it is most notable for the striking yellow on its chest and rear parts.

Anyway, back to the part of the week that wasn’t so good. Apologies for the poor quality of the carrots; you will be relieved to learn that from this week they will be English ones, so I am confident that we will be back on track. I added around 30kg of last week’s consignment to my compost heap – what a waste! Also, sorry if you were missing any items from your box; if this was the case please let me know. There was a technical fault on the website last Wednesday afternoon/evening, so if you were trying to gain access to it at that time I apologise for that too. Fortunately the techies managed to resolve the problem fairly quickly, and it happened after the order deadline, so I don’t think that too much harm was done.

This week we start afresh, and the weather forecast looks more favourable for working in; granted, it doesn’t look as though conditions will have the hoards flocking to Bournemouth beach, but for digging, hoeing and sleeping they are just the ticket.

The runner bean plants are steadily winding their way up their bamboo supports, and quite a lot are flowering, so it won’t be long until the first tiny beans begin to develop. To one side of them the later sowing of broad beans is also blossoming, but it remains to be seen if I will be able to keep the Jackdaws at bay this time round. I picked a few kilos of tomatoes last week, which I sold at the farmers’ market yesterday; there will not be enough for me to add them to the ‘Shop’ this week, but there should be plenty the following week. I am getting some of the Isle of Wight cherry tomatoes in for the short term. Cucumbers are producing well now, but demand continues to outstrip supply, so I am not yet able to alter their ‘limited’ status. A combination of weather, timing and pests has resulted in a lack of lettuces this week, but the next batch will be ready to cut soon.

I am growing Padron peppers for the first time this year, and I have a few ready to pick. These green chillis are often served as tapas in Spanish restaurants, fried in hot oil until the skins begin to blister, and then served with a drizzle of olive oil and a twist of coarse sea salt. They are mostly lacking in heat, but the odd one can be quite fiery, but there is no way of knowing which will have this characteristic, so it’s a case of Spanish roulette.

I will be cutting my broccoli this week, and chard too, as well as cabbages. Mushrooms, onions, carrots, bunched beetroot, courgettes, garlic, ginger, new potatoes, and probably the last of the old potatoes, make up most of what’s available. There will be oranges and lemons for your vitamin C intake.

The farmers’ market at Wyken continues to be well organised in terms of well spaced out stalls, and impeccably behaved customers, so I will be there again next Saturday with a couple of tables of goodies, including some potted chilli pepper plants. The recently refurbished ‘Bullpen’ coffee shop has a spanking new fancy coffee machine to provide a high quality caffeine fix for those who need one. Alongside the market, close to the very popular pizza van (though not too close), stand the most luxurious portable toilets imaginable; soft lighting and tinkling music to accompany your tinkling – classy.

Well have a good week, I am certainly hoping for a better one. Thank you for your tolerance when things don’t quite go according to plan; I love you all.

Phil

 

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