Are you hoarding in case of the need to self isolate? Are you hoping that a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables will protect you? Do you believe that there will be a shortage of fresh produce as the virus tightens its grip? Something is going on, because last week I had a record number of orders, and it was a record by quite some margin. In a decent week I might have to fill 45 boxes, but last week it was 12 more than that, which was something of a challenge to cope with, coming out of the blue as it did. I’m not complaining, in fact I thank you for your support, I just wasn’t expecting it.

Fortunately I had just about enough of most things to go round, well more or less, but I have to say that it was more by luck than judgement. Because I have no forward visibility of how many orders I will receive in any week, or how much each customer will order, I base my procurement of bought-in items on previous levels of demand, so when I get a dramatic (for little old me) increase in business unexpectedly there are likely to be some gaps on the shelves. My ordering and cropping plan is a back of an envelope version of what the supermarket chains operate, and even their highly sophisticated computerised systems fall over at times of unusually high demand – hence no toilet paper, dried pasta or hand sanitiser. I have to say that I don’t quite understand the panic buying of toilet paper, in extremis there is always the option of The Daily Mail; at least the newsprint doesn’t come off the paper anymore.

I don’t mean to be flippant or dismissive of the virus, because it is clearly a serious threat, as demonstrated by the alarming statistics coming from the Lombardy region of Italy. All we can do is follow the advice being given by the Chief Medical Officer, and to behave responsibly, whilst trying to live as normally as possible.

Meet the latest arrival at Moyns Park. This handsome little man arrived on Thursday, and each day he and his mother spend several hours in the paddock directly in front of the potting shed; it’s a lovely view to look out on.

The propagating greenhouse is filling up quickly now, with seed trays, seedlings and young plants at various stages of development occupying most of the available bench space, I have already had to move the trays of onions into the main greenhouse to make way for the next generation of veg-lets. I planted the first batch (of many this season) of lettuces in the polytunnel last week. When I will ever get the chance to plant outside remains unknown, with the ground still saturated, but it’s not worth fretting over, it will come right all in good time. In the meantime there is always a job to do, and having the polytunnel and greenhouse is a real bonus. I don’t want to make any promises, but there could be some radishes to pull as soon as next week, if not they will definitely be ready the following one, and Pak Choi won’t be far behind.

This week there will be chard and perpetual spinach, and purple sprouting broccoli. Leeks, parsnips, swede, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, courgettes, mushrooms, onions, carrots, garlic, potatoes, beetroot, and ginger make up the vegetable list. I ran short of kiwi fruit last week, but there will be plenty this week, along with oranges and lemons – vitamin C is good for warding off infections, or so I read recently.

I have a couple of requests to make, particularly in light of my earlier comments regarding the level of orders at the moment. The first is, please order as early in the week that you are able to, just to give me the best chance of planning my workload; most of you are very good in this respect, but there are always a few stragglers. I will always accommodate later orders if I can, but sometimes it just isn’t possible; please remember, I am on my own doing this, so there is a limit to what I can achieve. The second request is regarding payment. If you pay online please try to keep up to date, otherwise it can get very messy…..and I do have bills to pay. Thank you for your cooperation.

Following my comments last week about using Nellie hair for knitting a scarf from, my former friend with the spinning wheel gave an emphatic NO to my suggestion that she get involved. She was repulsed by the very thought of it for some irrational reason, so it won’t be happening. I really didn’t want to fall out over something so trivial, so I am going to offer an olive branch of reconciliation in the form of a cushion stuffed with the aforementioned dog hair; that should patch up our relationship.

On my way back from Birdbrook this afternoon I saw the barn owl hunting near the old railway cutting; a beautiful sight, but I’m not sure how good it is to see it trying to find a meal in the middle of the afternoon.

I will be at Wyken on Saturday as usual, do come along and support the market if you can.

Have a good week.

Phil

 

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