The soil is fully charged with water (‘at field capacity’ is the technical term) and with rain falling almost constantly this week, the brown, swollen river is only just within its banks. It may still be warm but as we struggle in the mud, the summer of 2013 feels truly behind us.
All but the last ten acres of potatoes are safely in store along with the onions, beetroot and squash. After being held back by the dry summer, many of our co-op member’s carrots were still too small to harvest while the good soil conditions were with us. Thanks to the rain they have now bulked up, but we must hope for a dry spell to allow the mechanical harvesters to roll. These use two converging rubber belts to grip and lift the carrots, but we have perhaps three weeks before the carrot tops become too weak for this process to work. In the right conditions this machine is poetry in motion and at least 100 times faster than doing it by hand. Having to go back to kneeling and grovelling in the mud would be hard.
Soups to rave about
I don’t often rave about the ‘ready to eat’ food we sell; it’s all top end stuff but our mission is (and always will be) to encourage you to cook for yourselves. Having said that, if you are feeling harassed or perhaps a little lazy, here is my plug for the soups my brother Ben makes. Just about everyone has been bowled over by the quality, and three scooped gold at this year’s Soil Association Organic Food Awards. The uncomfortable truth about most manufactured soups is that they are made with globally traded, pre-prepared frozen vegetables and then whizzed to a pulp to allow mechanical pumping into containers, all to keep their costs down. Ben’s are handmade with no compromise on ingredients and are in a different league; with their chunky texture they are more of a meal than a soup. It’s enough to make even the most fussy eater lazy.