Bristol a new frontier

25 June 2015                Bristol a new frontier

I’ve just come in from the field where we have been lifting potatoes and onions for the vegboxes this week.  As many of you will know, there is very little that gives me more pleasure than seeing the golden potato nuggets tumbling over the harvestor.   Each year, though, my eyes flash anxiously over the new tubers, as they lie on the ground, looking for any signs of wireworm.  The small entry holes of the larvae would spell crop loss on a sometimes, intolerable scale in the main crop varieties.  At the very least it spells hours of grading, searching the tubers for holes. Thank fully, this year the news is good, I have seen no sign of wireworm today!  

Wireworm is such a persistent pest that it infiltrates one’s psyche over the years and I will never forget my first encounter when we moved to Stowey Rocks nearly 10 years ago and I wrote…………

Our box scheme coughed and spluttered into existence at its new home last week and we breathed a sigh of relief.  Often over the last couple of months at Stowey Rocks I wondered whether we would have any crops at all”. 
“It has been quite hard starting again on new land with new soils, different pests and lots of other challenges.  Crows wiped out our onion crop, which we had planted in new ground in early May as the blackthorn began to bloom.  In the space of a few days, the birds, looking for grubs in the dry conditions pulled up all the small seedlings”………..
I didn’t realise how the wireworm would come to shape our growing but I finished that letter, as I remain now, optimistic about the future ……..

On a different note Remke and I are very pleased to be here when we get a chance to stop and look around it is a beautiful place…. You can smell the sea at Stowey Rocks and something about this corner of Somerset reminds me of childhood beach holidays in Cornwall.  Things can only get better”.
On that note we have decided to expand our delivery area and from next week will deliver to Bristol on Wednesdays.  In actual fact, some of my first vegbox deliveries were in Bristol in 2001 at the offices of the Soil Association, where I met Remke and enticed her to join me in a farming dream which without her seemed just out of reach. So yes, Bristol, we are going back. Please tell your city friends that they can have vegetables hewn from the red soils of Somerset’s Quantock hills by folk who could not be more committed to organic food production.
These days we have many recipes on our website provided by Izzy our Somerset wonder cook.  I don’t think she will mind if I have a little go myself this week.  We have put Fennel in the vegboxes and as I say every year, it’s one of those things that you either love or hate.  I guess I’m a bit sensitive about it since becoming a grumpy grower and loosing all empathy with the latter group. I simply can’t believe that you won’t like fennel braised with lemon and rosemary.  Basically you cut the fennel into quarters and brown them in butter.  Remove them and quickly fry some garlic, rosemary and lemon (zest and juice) before returning the fennel, adding water and simmering for 50 min. Season and scatter some of the fennel fronds, which you will have cut off earlier!

Bon appetite                        Richard Plowright

Date Published: 
Tuesday, 23 June, 2015