Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The veg is really starting to flow, at last!

We are starting to get discernible quantities of summer veg at last.  The first few weeks there is this trickle, so a few of you have been lucky enough to get a little preview but there is not been enough for all the boxes.  Now it is starting to come, still not necessarily enough for all, but whole rounds are now getting courgettes or cucumbers, the tomatoes are coming in, fennel last week, this week a choice from the following - calabrese, pointed cabbage, beetroot, round beans, flat beans and mange tout peas.  This doesn't make writing the blog very easy or helpful to those of you wanting to know what is in the box but it does make for very delicious, if not predictable, contents of the boxes.

There will also be new potatoes, new carrots and onions and lettuce.

Thursday, 3 July 2014


It's starting to feel like summer - lots of holiday cancellations just when the lovely summer veg starts to come in!

As well as new potatoes, carrots and onions, this week we have broad-beans (big pods) which you shell and either flat beans or round beans, both 'mange tout' varieties. Most of our beans and peas are the latter but broad-beans are one of the few that you do need to pod (take out the beans and discard the pod).  For those of you familiar with broad beans this might seem obvious but ever since I had a complaint about those 'tough' beans, I don't take anything for granted!

We also have garlic, lettuce, and courgettes or cucumbers.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

This week's box

Along with the usual basics you will have tomatoes, cucumber, courgette, beans and lettuce.

Apologies if you had some duff potatoes last week. Do let us know so we can give you extra to make up. Our own are nearly there. This part of the country is one of the latest for new spuds due to its distance from the warming effect of the sea on the land.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Beautiful carrots

Every now and again, I get involved in looking at the bigger picture of what we do here at North Aston.  In pursuit of that, yesterday I went to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology in the Houses of Parliament to hear some eminent people discussing why our economic system makes it more profitable to produce food in ways that damage the environment and our health, instead of rewarding methods of production that deliver benefits.  The original question, unsurprisingly, answered by one and all, was that the economic system was driven by very limited criteria that didn't take into account the true costs of current practices.

The discussion then was that in order to truly reflect the real costs one must quantify (make visible and accountable) all the externalities (the consequences) good and bad of different food production methods so that decision making on support and funding can be well-grounded.  One then must find a way of putting a value on health, well-being, environment, etc. no idea how one does that but there are clever people out there already on the case and 'modelling' seems to be an exciting and happening kind of research tool which can handle these complex issues.  (In my day I think they called it 'statistics' but this is much cleverer!)

That's good then, all sorted!  For sure now everyone will see that the future depends on nurturing our resources not exploiting them.  Yeah right!  Now all we have to do is overcome the well-financed vested interests who have at their disposal resources which will at every turn counteract any move that threatens the status quo.  Sometimes it does feel incredibly pointless trying to change things but then doing nothing is not an option!!

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but I defy anyone to dispute the beauty and fine taste of this week's carrots.  A comment from Val (who is celebrating her birthday today) was that "they were a joy to harvest, hardly any imperfections or little ones to discard".  Hope you enjoy them.

In the box this week we have (drum roll)  NEW potatoes!  We also have those delicious new carrots pulled by Val, onions, pointed green cabbage, calabrese, tomatoes, mushrooms and lettuce.  In the fruit bag as well as apples, oranges and bananas we have clementines and kiwis.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

I don't think we have quite got into the rhythm of this blog

Apologies, yet again, for last week's missing blog.  Sorry, we (I) am not too good at this.

One of the things (one of the many things) that I was doing last week, (instead of writing the blog), was preparing some leaflets for Bicester's Big Lunch which I had been invited to attend in order to promote our box scheme.

I was reluctant to give up a lovely sunny Sunday in the garden especially when it meant spending the day in the middle of a town.  I still mourn the loss of the afternoon but my time was not wasted and I met some very friendly people.  I was cynical about the value of a community lunch in the centre of a town but was pleasantly surprised at how just putting lots of chairs and tables along the pedestrianised areas attracted people to stop a while.  It made me realise that there are very few places where one can inexpensively socialise in bigger groups.  By simply making this space the Big Lunch had encourage people to come out with their neighbours and friends into a space which could accommodate larger groups and they came out in large numbers and it was a huge success.  Well done the organisers and all the helpers!

In the box this week the potatoes are Lady Balfour - a good all-purpose potato.  As well as carrots and onions, this week's box contains butternut squash, celery, wet/fresh garlic, tomatoes, and frilly lettuce or salad.  The fruit bag has apricots and lemons in addition to the usual apples, oranges and bananas.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Apologies for last week's absence

 I had a day out in London at the Transylvanian Festival last Wednesday and someone, I'm not naming names, forgot to do the blog!

The Festival was a fundraiser for supporting sustainable rural life out there; to help the villages continue in the way they have for centuries and stop them having to go down the route to ever-more carbon dependency.

Those Transylvanian fields, full of diversity and plants which have practically disappeared elsewhere in Europe, are so precious.  For me it just emphasised what has been lost here in Britain through the industrialisation of agriculture. It is all very well to try to conserve what has yet to be lost but surely we too must employ less injurious methods of farming so as not to lose any more and to hopefully restore where we can.

In the box this week there will be different potato varieties for different collection points but they will all be good for all purposes.  As well as onions and carrots we have courgettes or cucumbers, calabrese, tomatoes, spinach and lettuce   In the fruit bag the extra fruit will be nectarines and pears.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Hopefully better late than never!

Losing a day to the Bank Holiday meant everything was running late.  The Blog is always the last job on a Wednesday and sorry, I just ran out of time.

This is excellent growing weather, good for the seedlings, good for planting out and good for plants already established.  The downside of having terrific growing conditions is that the healthy soil that we cherish is just as hospitable to the weeds as to our plants so, after the winter break, weeding is well and truly back on the list of priorities.

This week's potato is Lady Balfour - a good all purpose potato, named after one of the pioneers of the UK organic movement.  As well as onions and carrots, the box will also contain parsnips, butternut squash, calabrese (broccoli), flat beans and lettuce.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A bit of a mixture

Lovely warm weather but getting colder with some frosts threatening!  It's not a problem, the vulnerable crops won't go out yet.

We are coming into the 'Hungry Gap' now - this is the gap between the coming of all those wonderful tender summer veg and the end of the hardy spring crops that have done so well for us but are now reacting to the longer days and warmth by going to flower and on to seed.  The greenhouse and poly-tunnels will help to fill the 'Gap' but there is always a gap!

In the box this week will be fresh garlic, white cabbage, mushrooms, celery and lettuce.  The potatoes will be a bit of a mix but whatever you get will be a good all-purpose potato variety.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

This week's veg box 24th/25th April

Lots of growing activity as you would expect at this time of year.

We've just finished planting the main-crop potatoes and our parsnips are sown.

There is a constant round of seed sowing taking place in the big greenhouse.  Most of our veg is sown into compost modules which, once the seedlings get to a more robust size, can be planted in the fields without too much root disturbance.  As you can imagine with 250 odd boxes going out every week this is an ongoing activity which doesn't relent until the Autumn.

The potatoes this week are Javelin.  It's not the prettiest potato but it is a good all-rounder.  As well as the onions and carrots in the box there will be calabrese, cauliflower or 'hungry gap' kale (if you got one of these last week you will get the other this week),  lettuce, spinach, and either salad onions, radish or parsley.

In the fruit bag there will be kiwis and pears as well as the usual apples, oranges and bananas.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Lovely sunshine - almost tempted to shed the thermals!

Just when you think it is warm enough to shed a few layers the papers warn us of an ozone hole over Britain!

This week's potato is Desiree - another versatile potato and according to Thompson and Morgan "the world's most popular red potato".  As well as the carrots and onions the box will also include a selection from the following list of veg: - leeks, parsnip, lettuce, mini cucumber and either cauliflower or 'hungry gap' kale.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

potato correction

Apologies, the potato variety is Romano - also a good all rounder

This weeks veg box 10th/11th April

In your box this week you will find potatoes (Milva again) onions, carrots, beetroot (some of you may receive a yellow variety called 'golden globe'), spinach, mushrooms, either parsely or spring onions and either spring greens or purple sprouting broccoli (whichever you didn't have last week.)

The fruit bag contains apples, oranges, bananas, pears and grapefruit.

We have just sown the leeks in a seed bed in one of the polytunnels where we raise young plants to be lifted in June and planted outside. One of the varieties was called 'Bandit' !

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What's in your veg box this week - 3rd/4th April

I can see that writing this blog may become a dreaded last minute job!  Sorry, it's newsletter/invoice week which is always quite a tight deadline.  I will try to be more enthusiastic next week!

This week's potato is Milva which is a good all-rounder.  Apart from the onions and carrots, this week's box will be a selection from the following veg:- fresh garlic, parsnips, leeks, purple-sprouting broccoli, spring greens, lettuce or salad.

You will recognise the garlic by its distinct smell and so you are unlikely to mix it up with the leeks which it superficially resembles.  We have also bagged the garlic to maintain its freshness.  This fresh garlic is mild and yummy.  Use the entire plant - stalk and all.  Chop finely and use to garnish mashed potatoes, mix in salads, add to mayonnaise, sprinkle on hot buttered beetroot/carrots . . . .

If you get purple-sprouting broccoli be aware that the warmer weather hastens it's demise and development into flower and it is getting warmer!  Great while it lasts though!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

We've just discovered how to blog!

 It's only taken us six years to get around to the actual blogging bit - there were (of course), extenuating circumstances but nothing that really explains such ineptitude.

So the sun is not shining today but there is lots to do.

Seeds aplenty are being sown in the greenhouse, green manures are being ploughed in and there is a sense of urgency in Mark's demeanour.  During the winter we must bide our time but when the sap starts to rise, the days lengthen and the sun begins to warm the soil, then the starting gun has gone off and it is all haste to get the season up and running.

I hope to give you a weekly Thursday update on the contents of the boxes.  It won't be definitive because not all the boxes necessarily contain the same produce but it will give you some idea and may help with identification of the more unusual vegetables.

This week's potato variety is Cara.  A great floury potato superb for chips, baked potatoes, and roast potatoes but not a good boiler!

In addition to the potatoes, carrots and onions there will be a selection from the following veg:- celeriac, butternut squash, spinach, lettuce, salad, purple-sprouting broccoli, pentland brig (green) kale and red Russian kale.