Tag Archives: root veg

guy’s newsletter: bringing in the roots

We have been busy irrigating our drier land where thirsty crops have sucked out all the August rains, but you won’t find many farmers complaining; September was gloriously dry and sunny. By the time you read this, almost all our potatoes will be in store. It’s been a year that rewarded patience; early-planted crops never fully recovered from going into cold, wet seedbeds in March but those who waited for drier conditions have had much better crops. We’ve yet to do the final tally but it looks as if our spuds will see us through to May 2015; even the notoriously difficult pink fir apples and King Edwards have done well.

The main crop carrots also look like being a bumper harvest, but we are reluctant to start lifting while the ground is so dry; a little damp soil clinging to the roots eases their journey over the harvester and into the storage bins, thus reducing breakages. Once in store, carrots also keep better when surrounded by some of the soil they grew in, and should be in the boxes through to April. Most of the beets and parsnips have also done well, almost too well as it’s a touch early to start lifting; instead we’ve cut the tops to stop them growing too large.

For those who like an edgier veg, we have just started harvesting radicchio, one of my all-time favourite vegetables; partly for its beauty and partly for its bitter flavour. Heads will be in the boxes over the next two months. Small amounts bring another dimension of colour and flavour to salads but if you find it too much I recommend making radicchio risotto or pasta; recipes can be found on our website.

Guy Watson

Ed’s Farm Blog – Rooting for success

organic jerusalem artichokesOur parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes are harvested mechanically in the winter which is a problem with our heavy soil: the crop comes up encased in great clods of earth and even the toughest tractor can get bogged down. To ameliorate this, we rent some land near Exeter which has a much lighter, sandy soil, allowing more reliable access. It also helps reduce fanging in the parsnips (when the root forks into two) although most of this is caused by nematode damage to the root tip.

This week we brought in the last of the crop and early results are looking mixed at best. The parsnips were planted during a particularly dry spell (the soil playing against us on this occasion) and as a result were slow to establish and put on bulk, resulting in many undersized specimens. They subsequently suffered a carrot fly attack, and the damage caused allowed canker to get hold. All told, not so good. They are going through the grading process as I write and it will be a couple of weeks before we have an accurate picture of how we’ve done.

On the plus side, the Jerusalem artichokes look really good and are probably going to provide a heavier yield than expected, so the two crops should balance each other out – always assuming we can persuade you to accept a few more artichokes. It is a sorry fact that parsnips are generally preferred to the humble artichoke. Closer to home we are making steady progress through the purple sprouting broccoli: Rudolph, our earliest variety, is now finished and the Red Spear is nearly done too. Next on the horizon is Red Head which we will start on for the first time this week.