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NEWSLETTER – 12th NOVEMBER 2019

Hello and welcome to the November newsletter.  Well, it has hardly stopped raining now for well over a month and everything is rather soggy underfoot.  In spite of this, I have now finished picking the apples.  Some years I don’t even need to wear a coat for the entire apple-harvest.  This ain’t one of them!

The squash have also now been harvested.  There are four varieties, but you treat them all the same.  There are Red Kuri (the orange ones), Sweet Dumpling (the white stripy ones) and Butternut, which you will know.  There are not many of these varieties, so we will be onto the Crown Prince a bit earlier than usual this year. These are the large blueish ones, cut into segments. As last year, we are now using paper bags, rather than polythene, to keep cut squash segments clean in an effort to reduce polythene usage (just waiting for a new delivery!).

The best thing to do with squash is to roast it in strips like a parsnip, bake it, or make it into soup.  There are lots of recipes on t’internet for more adventurous people (I used to recommend www.vegbox-recipes.co.uk, but I’m not sure if they still exist).  The first exploratory dig of parsnips is in this week’s box, and the sprouts are looking promising.  May put some in before Christmas!  The next newsletter will be early in December with our Christmas delivery dates.  With Christmas on a Wednesday, I expect I will deliver the boxes on Monday 23rd, rather than Christmas Eve, but this will be confirmed in the next newsletter.

NEWSLETTER – 15th OCTOBER 2019

Hello, and welcome to the October newsletter.  Well, I think autumn is well and truly here.  It has hardly stopped raining for a while now.  In between the storms, I have got the onions in and harvested over half of the apples – a better crop this year.  From next week, the juice will be a blend of varieties again, now that the Bramleys have been picked.

This year’s sweet corn has been a poor crop – not many cobs on the plants, and the usual pheasant damage.  If you have got two small/partly ripened ones, they have been put in as the equivalent of one big cob in an attempt to make sure everyone has had one at some point!

Now that the lettuce have finished, I am putting Chinese cabbage in the boxes. These can be steamed or stir fried, but are also nice as a lettuce substitute in a salad or cheese sandwich.  The “bunch” in your box is rocket, and will probably go very well with the Chinese leaves.  I’m hoping there will be enough rainbow chard for all the boxes this week before going back to the cavollo nero or spinach for a bit.

In Halloween week, there should be some miniature pumpkins in the boxes.  This will signify the beginning of the squash season, and the varieties will include Red Kuri, Sweet Dumpling, Butternut and Crown Prince as usual.  There will probably be some marrows too.  These are huge, so I cut them in half.  They are a bit bland on their own, so the best thing to do with them is to stuff them with something delicious!  There is a simple recipe on www.bbcgoodfood.com for Stuffed Marrow Bake (just type it into their search bar), if you are interested.

NEWSLETTER – 17th SEPTEMBER 2019

Hello, and welcome to the September newsletter.  It is certainly cooler now, especially if you’ve just come back from a holiday in sunnier climes!  Could do with some rain really, but don’t mind waiting a little longer for it, as once it starts, it probably won’t stop for a while!

By the time you read this, the maincrop potatoes should have been harvested, which means I can now offer them in bulk sacks for those who wish to supplement their boxes.  I haven’t finished harvesting the onions yet, but have enough in to offer them too.  I’d rather leave it a bit longer for the carrots, though.  Prices below.

In the boxes, the tomatoes and courgettes are in decline, but the aubergines are still producing, as are the peppers. There should be a few more lettuce soon too.  The leaf in this week’s boxes is Cavollo Nero (black kale), to give the spinach a chance to regrow.  Hopefully there will be some rainbow chard later in the month.

The current batch of apple juice (best before 08/09/20) is a single variety (Discovery) juice.  Normally the juice is a blend of several varieties including Bramleys, but these aren’t ready to pick yet.  If you don’t like it, I can always let you have some 250ml bottles of last year’s blend instead.  It is still well within its date.

The first lambs have already gone, but I have plenty left if you would like some.  They are supplied in “half lambs”, which is about 7 to 8kg @ £9/kg, and size-wise should just about fit in a carrier bag, or on one shelf in the freezer.  They are supplied fresh, rather than frozen, and are cut into the usual joints i.e. legs, shoulders, breast (de-boned and rolled, or minced if you prefer) and chops.  They are bagged and labelled, ready for the freezer.  Please let me know if you are interested.

NEWSLETTER – 13th AUGUST 2019

Hello, and welcome to the August newsletter.  Firstly, please make a note that there will be NO BOXES ON THE 27th AUGUST as we are on holiday!  When we return, the boxes will be on WEDNESDAY 4th SEPTEMBER, instead of Tuesday 3rd, just so I can get myself organised first!  If you are a fortnightly customer having a box today, I will assume you want your next box on 4th September, but you’re welcome to slip an extra one in next week (20th) if you like, to tide you over.  If so, please let me know asap!

So, I’m frantically running around getting everything up to date before the holiday, including picking a lot of Discovery apples!  These have now ripened – early again this year – so if you would like some as an extra to your box, they are £3 for a 3lb bag (or 1.36kg if you’ve got a calculator!).  Again, just let me know please!

In the boxes, the potatoes are now maincrop outside ones, but are still being dug by hand.  It is a lot cooler digging these than it was in the tunnel, though!  The ones I’ve dug so far look to have better skin quality than the tunnel ones, so let’s hope they are all like that!  Variety is still CAROLUS.  We have a very good crop of aubergines this year.  It must be due to the hot weather.  They are quite satisfying to harvest in all their purpleness!  The courgettes, after a lull of a couple of weeks, are now producing again, and the tomatoes are ripening quickly.  The cucumbers are still producing a few, and soon there will be peppers as well.

When we get back from holiday, we will have some lamb available. They are supplied in “half lambs”, which is about 7 to 8kg, @ £9/kg. Size-wise, this should just about fit in a carrier bag, or on one shelf in the freezer.  They are supplied fresh, rather than frozen, and are cut into the usual joints i.e. legs, shoulders, breast (de-boned and rolled, or minced if you prefer) and chops.  They are bagged and labelled, ready for the freezer.  Please let me know if you are interested.

NEWSLETTER – 9th JULY 2019

Hello, and welcome to the July newsletter.  Well, summer seems to have actually arrived at last! In fact, with the wind as well, the conditions last week were so good I made my hay in just over two days.  Three days is normally considered good going!  With the time I saved, I finished off the majority of the planting over the weekend, and celebrated by weeding the sprouts!

As with anything, there is always a flip side, and the cucumbers are now being attacked by Red Spider Mite.  My regular reader will recall that last year they multiplied so quickly that they decimated the crop.  This year I have introduced the predators bang on time to contain the attack, so hopefully the yield will not be affected.

So, the tunnel crops are going nicely now.  The courgettes are rampant, and there is a good supply of cucumbers too.  The aubergines are just starting to fruit and hopefully the tomatoes will be ready by the end of the month.  There were enough climbing French beans for all the boxes last week and there should be reasonable picks of them for a couple more weeks.  As mentioned before, you just top and tail them – no need to go around them with a knife.

Outside, there are lettuce again for a couple of weeks and the salad onions are still going.  What seemed from a distance to be a good crop of beetroot has, in fact been ruined by either mice or rabbits, who have gnawed at the tops of the roots making them unsaleable.  We managed a week’s worth out of the stripy Tondi ones, and hopefully we’ll be able to get a week’s worth out of the traditional ones in due course.

In the orchard, the apples are well on their way.  We still have apple juice available from last year’s crop.  It keeps for at least a year from bottling in ambient temperatures, and only needs to go in the fridge once it is opened.  A nice refreshing drink in the summer

NEWSLETTER – 11th JUNE 2019

Hello, and welcome to the June newsletter.  Well, summer seems to be edging nearer, although it still seems a bit undecided whether to stick or twist!  Maybe we were spoilt a bit last year, but I would prefer it not to be as hot as that anyway!

So, things are changing now in the boxes.  All the over wintered crops in the fields have now finished.  It has been a lean time, waiting for the new crops to start producing, but not as bad as some years.  The courgettes are starting to produce now, and the cucumbers are probably about a week away from starting in any real numbers in the tunnels.  Outside the spinach and parsley is now new season.  Unfortunately, there may be a gap in the lettuce for a couple weeks soon, but there are more on the way. 

The new season potatoes are now ready.  As they are still growing, I am going to run them alongside the remains of the old crop, so if you have a roast, use the old ones, or the new ones for a salad!  The variety is the same for both – CAROLUS.  The broad beans have now finished.  It was a good crop this year, I think you’ll all agree!  At the end of the month, there should be a few climbing French beans.  If so, you just top and tail them – no need to go around them with the knife.

Soon, there will be some kohl rabi.  These are a purple sputnik-like root which can be grated into a salad or used like a turnip.  There will also be two types of beetroot – the ordinary red type and the striped Tondi ones.

Out on the farm, my main job now is planting all the brassicas, squash and sweet corn for next autumn and beyond.  I have already sown the main crop carrots, spinach, beetroot and chard, and planted the runner beans.  Then I have quite a lot of hay to make this year in between keeping everything weeded.

NEWSLETTER – 14th MAY 2019

Hello, and welcome to the May newsletter.  Well, as I said in the last newsletter – here we are in spring, but nothing’s changed that much!  At the time of writing, the weather doesn’t really give the impression that it’s building up to summer at all.  Maybe it’s skipped summer, and this is autumn?  Who knows!!

Anyway, the only crops coming from outside now are the leeks, parsley and overwintered spinach/chard.  The leeks will probably only last another couple of weeks before going to seed.  The spinach will hopefully last longer than that - until the new season crop is ready with luck.  The apples and squash have now also finished.

So, I am leaning heavily on the tunnel crops at the moment.  The radish are going strong, but the lettuce have now finished until the outside crop is ready in a couple of weeks.  The Tundra cabbage have now finished, but there are some pointed ones nearly ready in the tunnels.  There are now broad beans ready, and there will be courgettes soon, and some more salad onions.  The outside new season veg is now growing away, albeit under fleece to keep the cold out, and the now sacred pigeons off (satire!!).

I was hoping to have a new variety of pak choi available around now, but although the plants are still small, they are starting to flower.  Maybe I have grown them too late, or maybe they have become stressed by being too dry/cold in the tunnel?  What I am hoping is that they are still edible if I put two or three in a box.  We’ll have to try them ourselves first! 

My main job at the moment is seeding all the summer crops – the squash, runner beans and all the brassicas – as well as trying to keep the lettuce going.  Then there’s muck to spread and ploughing to be done before the plantathon in June, and the weedathon in July!  In between, I still have the odd maintenance job to do, such as servicing the tractors and giving everything a good grease-up!

I have now discontinued the bulk sacks of produce for the summer, as usual, as they will not keep very well, but we still have apple juice available as a spring/summer thirst quencher!

NEWSLETTER – 16th APRIL 2019

Hello, and welcome to the April newsletter.  Well, it’s definitely spring now, but it seems unsure whether to continue on to summer or slip back into winter.  We are having some nice days when the wind drops, but still some frosts at night.  I don’t want to get lured by the daytime weather into planting things that will get killed by those frosts!

In spite of that, the early plantings have now all been done but under fleece.  This will protect them not only from the cold weather for a week or two, but also from the pigeons!  The climbing beans have also been planted out in the tunnel, mainly because they were so big they were getting tangled up on the prop bench!

Veg wise, there is still some variety in the boxes in spite of the hungry gap.  Although the kale has pretty much finished now, there will be some spinach from the tunnel followed by some re-growth from outside.  In the tunnel, I am trying a new variety of pak choi which is supposed to come in May/June, so hopefully there’ll be plenty of greenery for a while.  There are also some radish and salad onions on their way and it won’t be too long before the tunnel lettuce are ready.

A bit of advice about potatoes – they are still nice and firm, but will be looking to shoot now.  It is best to keep them in a cool dark place, or even the fridge if you have room.  In fact, I think I’d keep most of the box in the fridge from now on!

If you have got apples in this week’s box, then they are Bramleys.  These have nearly finished, but have done well to last until April.  There are still some Sturmer eaters left, and plenty of apple juice.

NEWSLETTER – 19th MARCH 2019

Hello, and welcome to the March newsletter.  Now, I don’t want to say “told you so”, but I did say that winter wasn’t over quite yet when we had that nice spell!  I don’t mind the rain.  In one sense we need it, but the wind achieves nothing other than getting on one’s wick (polite term!) and destroying things.  It took the skin off a tunnel I was hoping would last until the autumn.  Not such a great loss in the value of the materials.  More a loss of a day and a half re-covering it when I’d rather be doing something else! 

The beetroot and spinach germinating in the prop tunnel have suddenly been attacked by a gang of mice!  I don’t remember this happening before, but I am fighting back, having got two of them with traps already!  Don’t get mad - get even!  This weekend the sprouts were sown and the toms, cues, courgettes, peppers and aubergines potted on.  The tunnel spuds have already been planted.

Out in the field, the green kale has made a resurgence, so will be in the boxes this week and possibly next week from which point it will have to be ploughed in to make way for the new season’s crops.  There will be some Red Russian kale then, which some people mistake for purple sprouting, but it doesn’t matter as you treat it in the same way – steam, boil or something more adventurous!  There were enough cauliflowers for everyone last week.  Might not be quite so many this week but I’ll do what I can to share them around.

I have now finished juicing apples for the year, but I still have some decent Bramleys and Sturmer Pippins (small green savoury eaters) left.

NEWSLETTER – 19th FEBRUARY 2019

Hello, and welcome to the February newsletter.  At the time of writing, it has dried up and feels positively spring-like! I’m looking forward to finishing the hedge trimming this weekend with some sun in the cab. Nice weather to work in, but I’m sure there are still a few surprises around the corner before we get to proper spring!

In the prop tunnel, the early sowings are now germinating.  This includes climbing beans, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, lettuce, kohl rabi and salad onions.  The seed potatoes have been chitting by the boiler for a couple of weeks and will be planted out soon.

You should all have had a Pak Choi by now.  It is best used as a salad green, or stir fried, similar to the mizuna.  We haven’t had a very good crop of the latter this year.  I am now clearing them, to try and make something of them.  I have included some of the hotter red mizuna to give it a kick.

Also in the boxes, the sprouts will soon be ending.  Turned out to be a decent crop in the end!  There will be some more Tundra cabbage after that and there should be some cauliflowers as well in March.

Well, the pork has now all been delivered, so for the meat eaters among you, the next offering will hopefully be some hogget lamb at the end of April/early May.  Watch this space!  In the meantime, I have to lamb this year’s lot!  They are all housed now so I can keep an eye out for any problems as they near their due date.  Let’s hope it goes well!

NEWSLETTER – 22nd JANUARY 2019

Happy New Year, and welcome to the January newsletter.  Christmas is already a distant memory, but the weather has been quite dry so it hasn’t been too great a burden to be out there working.  I hate to say it, but we really could do with a cold snap to kill off some bugs.  The whitefly have outlived the Cavolo Nero!

Anyway, the green bushy thing in some of the boxes is mizuna.  We have grown green ones and red ones again this year, although not so many of the latter.  It is Japanese mustard, but has a mild flavour (although the red ones are hotter!) and can be used like a lettuce in a salad or cheese sandwich and can also be stir fried.  The squash is Crown Prince.  It can be roasted or baked, or made into soup.  I like to roast a strip of it to have with a jacket potato.  My wife is more adventurous and dices it, roasts it and adds it to rice or pasta dishes.  Yum!

We still have some apples left – eaters and cookers.  We will be juicing again next week, just to make sure we don’t run out before next autumn.  It has sold really quickly over Christmas!  Unfortunately, the most expensive ingredient of the apple juice is the bottle, so please don’t put it in your recycling as I can reuse it!  If you could just swill it out and return it to me I’d be very grateful, thank you!  Buy one now, to help you get through “Dry January”!

Also on the livestock front, I will have some pork for sale soon (early Feb). Each year, I fatten a litter of pigs, to root out the perennial weeds and to start my ploughing.  It is not organic, but is outdoor reared, free range and fed on GM-free feed from a known family source!  I sell them in “quarter pigs”, which is around 10kg to 12kg of meat, comprising of leg joints, shoulder joints, belly pork and pork chops, all for £6.50/kg.  If you are interested, don’t delay as I am already taking orders!

NEWSLETTER – 4th DECEMBER 2018

Hello and welcome to the December newsletter.  Firstly, here are the Christmas delivery dates:  Deliveries will be as normal on Tuesday 11th and Tuesday 18th, but there will be no box on Tuesday 25th as it is Christmas Day!  It will be on SUNDAY 23rd instead.  There will then be no delivery on Tuesday 1st January, but we will return as normal on Tuesday 8th January 2019, suitably refreshed!

If you are a fortnightly customer and you wish to change your week, or if any customer wishes to change the size or frequency of their box to ensure they have enough veg to feed all those visiting relatives, then please let me know in good time (Saturday night for Tuesday deliveries, and THURSDAY night for the Sunday Christmas delivery, as it will be a very busy week!).   An order can never be in too early, especially over the Christmas period! 

Yes, there will be sprouts and parsnips in the 23rd December box and extra sacks of most of the items will be available throughout the month (see prices below).  I’m trying not to put any sprouts in the boxes until Christmas this year though, as I don’t want to run out before Christmas!

In this week’s larger boxes, there are some mizuna from the tunnels.  This is a feathery leaved salad otherwise known as Japanese mustard, and has a peppery taste similar to rocket.  It can be used in a salad, a cheese sandwich or a stir fry.  The early varieties of squash are not keeping very well.  The butternut have now all gone, and by Christmas, I expect the other early varieties will have finished too.  Then we will be on to the Crown Prince – one of the best tasting ones and also the best keeper.  It is also the largest, so it will be segmented, but these segments should keep for a week in the fridge.


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Stoneage Farm, Cothelstone, Taunton 01823 432488 keith@stoneage-organics.co.uk