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Is it winter yet?

In the field:

These summer days are amazing but also make you feel under pressure to be doing stuff, both in the field and out of it. Feels like the sun comes up and says ‘no excuses, get on with it’! The relative calm of winter is a still a long way off, but it would be quite nice around now to just press pause and have a little reset before going again! No desire to wish the time away though so definitely looking forward to more of a summer before winter arrives 😉

This is a tough time of year I reckon for UK market gardeners. Well, for us anyway. We’ve gone through the months of planning and prep, to the sowing and planting of very early Spring, then through the hungry gap and now we’re into what should be where we get to reap the fruits of all our labours for the summer veg.

But inevitably, it’s not quite as simple as that. Each year we do a crop rotation and this means different crops do better/worse each year, and that’s without the weather factor too. This means it’s quite hard to learn what works and doesn’t work when we try new things! Plus there’s the rabbits, aphids, birds, [insert pest as appropriate] to add into the mix – we seem to have had a bad run of these this year.  And we still have the weeds to deal with.

We’ve been harvesting in the rain this week, which hasn’t helped! Harvested kale, peas, courgettes, lettuce and a bit of salad (some had bolted literally overnight argh but managed to salvage a bit of it).

Pinching out tomatoes, pricked out lettuces, weeding. Starting to sow winter crops! – swede, spinach, lettuce, beetroot, chard.

Got some tin for roof and backs of new compost system. We’re excited about getting these going. Need to do a bit of tidying at field, tidy field tidy mind and all that.

Last week Chris showed a group of local veg growers round the field – felt like a better way of having a catch up and sharing ideas than sitting in a room somewhere. We’ve had some lovely messages saying how inspiring Chris was, and have also connected with another relatively local organic grower (who was able to sell us some emergency salad and beetroot last week!) which is great.

In the kitchen:

The wonderful Sarah who helps us on box-packing day has sent me this recipe which looks lovely (but I had just made cauliflower cheese with my cauli from last week so will have to wait for next one now). It’s a Nigel Slater recipe shared here in The Guardian.

Serves 2-3
cauliflower 1 large, whole, about 1kg
onions 2 medium
olive oil 3 tbsp
double cream 350ml
grain mustard 1 tbsp
dijon mustard 2 tbsp
cheddar cheese 100g

Trim the cauliflower, cutting off any dry or bruised leaves. Keep in place any small, pointed ones that are in good condition. Pour enough water into a large, deep saucepan to come half way up the sides, lower in the cauliflower then cover with a lid. Leave to steam for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat.

While the cauliflower steams, peel and thinly slice the onions. Set the oven at 180C fan/gas mark 6. Pour the olive oil into a shallow pan and place over a moderate heat, add the onions and cook till soft and translucent. Let them colour a little – they should be pale gold – then stir in the cream, a little salt and pepper and the mustards.

Finely grate the cheese and stir into the cream and onions. Remove the cauliflower carefully from its water, then place it in the centre of a baking dish or roasting tin. Spoon the cream and onion sauce around and over the top of the cauliflower and bake for 20 minutes till pale gold in colour.

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