Welcome to the Week 4 of the Field 28 veg box scheme. Well in the crazy world we occupy just now the weather has conspired to make May drier than most Summers in record. Whilst that has been a boost to the spirits especially those lucky enough to have outside space in which to exercise during lock down, as you can imagine it has brought its own challenges to Field 28.
We have been busy watering daily and have so far managed to preserve all our crops (other than the unexpected night of frost that nipped the growing buds of our freshly planted outdoor courgettes). We are busy building up the resilience of our soil structure by augmenting with lots of organic matter and using a no dig technique of cultivation so that it retains moisture well and it’s paying off even on our naturally sandy, free draining ground.
Our son, Edward has been spared from the challenge of GCSE exams this Summer, so rather than seeing him sat at home we have brought him onto the team sowing seeds, humping round bags of compost, running around on the quad and trailor and in particular tending the indoor salads that are in your weekly box. This week the micro-salad is based on peas with Jan’s little extra twist.
My first paid job prior to University where I studied Dentistry was as a pea fieldsman for Birdseye…even today, the taste of freshly picked pea shoots takes me back to when I was 18 during another glorious Summer.
For those new to our pea shoots, they are a carefully selected variety and, in a salad, the flavour is particularly enhanced in a with just a splash of fresh lemon.
As a slight change this week, instead of our ever-popular baby leaf salad we have grown some very striking red cos lettuce for you, never fear though I am sure the baby leaf will be back soon. In fact, we may be able to offer this as an additional items
We have just enough Timperley early Rhubarb for the medium boxes this week.
This box is also lucky to have the last of our Pak Choi for a while. Just right for Eds favourite healthy homemade Wagamama treat. Both boxes have the latest crop of Tokyo turnips which seem to have been a hit. Not just a normal turnip but a real treat sautéed lightly in butter.
Our soil is excellent for growing onions and we try to ensure we have enough of our Tropeo and Roscoff specialist varieties for a full season spanning early to dry styles. We grow some in tunnels, in raised beds and finally some in our field beds. They taste fabulous both in cooked dishes and raw in salads which is how Jan used them for tonight’s meal along with Spinach (which was in some boxes last week along with the first of our baby beetroot.) The ringed beetroot is an Italian heirloom variety known to have been grown in the coastal town of Chioggia, Italy all the way back to 1840. The town itself sits just outside of the Venice lagoon. The candy cane appearance becoming increasingly striking as the beets age.
It is important for us at Field 28 to encourage youngsters to enjoy their food and to share our passion for all thing’s salad and vegetable. The edible flower wheel has proved to be a real hit for these two young ladies who had great fun decorating their wraps and creating decorative ice cubes. If any grown-ups are interested, we can also create herb wheels which are a great way to create both salads and to garnish your cocktails!!
The large boxes will have the little yellow and red plum tomatoes form the Isle of White and again we may have some to sell as an additional item on pick up day. If I’m lucky some will make it onto my table but more often than not Jan has eaten them like sweets long before then.
IN the large box this week we include celery, some super fresh and tasty chestnut mushrooms and for the first time this season our field grown Swiss Chard.
Sometimes chard is known as perpetual spinach. It originates not from Switzerland but from around the Mediterranean. The name chard is derived from the French word carde which refers to the plant cardoon or artichoke thistle. The name Swiss Chard becoming popularized to differentiate it from native spinach. Try the young leaves raw in salads and the bigger leaves gently wilted. It packs a punch full of antioxidants and vitamins and is really low in calories. Whilst kale has become the ultimate trendy health food, chard. should be stood up alongside it being if anything a more approachable leafy vegetable.
As we move into the summer season more and more of the produce is home grown at our farm in Daresbury Cheshire which, as we are always proud to say, remains free from pesticides and biocides.
Perhaps reflecting the absence of any chemicals, bee activity is increasing day by day with our borage banks being covered through most hours of daylight…the busy bees seem almost not to notice our presence when we are cutting nearby. The sound of the humming is louder than the road noise currently. Whilst a return to normal times is long overdue there are some things that I will miss, quiet roads being close to the top of the list.
Back in the tunnels, the aubergines have been transplanted and are taking hold well, the courgettes are starting to kick out lots of lovely produce with some very pretty flowers as well.
We decided to grow some rather exotic cucumbers this year alongside the standard varieties and we are looking forward to seeing and tasting the Dragon’s egg, African horned and China Jade cucumbers in due course.
JANS WEEKLY FAVOURITE.
Sometimes things given freely are amongst the best gifts to receive. So early this morning Jan and I went picking Elderflower from our trees that are just coming to their best .Here is jans recipe for an Elderflower Cooler to enjoy either in the heat of the day or with your favourite Sundowner.
Remove flowers from 5-10 heads and stems by hand to get most flavour.Peel a lemon, place peel strips into the bowl with the juice from a half lemon. Add half litre of cold water. Seal with brown paper and pop in the fridge for 8 hours. Then add 100g of strawberries(or gooseberries for the ultimate refresher) to the bowl. Blend everything together. Strain into a large pan, squeezing the flowers to extract maximum flavour. Gently warm through, adding caster sugar to taste. Serve simply on ice. It keeps for a week in a fridge and it can freeze too.
Sit and enjoy but remember we now reach maximum numbers for boxes each week. To ensure you get a regular box book onto Jans regular weekly or fortnightly order list or confirm your next order ASAP!
K&J ps : we have rain!