Reflections on last year

Here we are one month into 2018 and we’ve all had time to reflect on the amazing year at Bothen Hill in 2017. Top of the list had to be the major achievement of being joint runners up in the BOOM (Best of Organic Markets) Fresh Produce section with our asparagus. The competition was open to all organic producers, both Soil Association and otherwise, and we’re extremely proud of this wonderful achievement, as can be seen in the photo of Lucy and Anita which was taken on the night at Borough Market in London.

Back to the farm, and we certainly had a good asparagus crop, selling at Bridport Street Market on a Saturday for eight weeks, as well as supplying Millers Farm Shop at Kilmington, Modbury at Burton Bradstock and Fruits of the Earth in Bridport who have continued to take our produce on a weekly basis along with Modbury.

Early potatoes weren’t that early, but the crop was good, although the main crop was disappointing. However, generally we didn’t have too much to grumble about yields. The tomatoes certainly were very prolific, as were the beans and we’re really pleased that going into the winter we have a good selection of vegetables available.

We also said goodbye to Bridport Farmers’ Markets in 2017, we’ve traded there for in excess of 15 years and felt it was time to stand down. With Fruits of the Earth in town, and Modbury in Burton, taking our produce now, customers have the opportunity to buy all week rather than once a month. We’ve had lots of lovely customers, many of whom have become friends, through the market, and we’d like to thank everyone who supported us there. We will, of course, continue with the asparagus on the street market once the season starts and of course we’re always open on a Friday morning until noon at the farm gate.

We’re looking forward to 2018 and the challenges this will bring, seed planting has already started in ernest in the newly-covered planting poly tunnel, and we’ll do our best to keep our news posts up to date during the year.

Our Christmas Arrangements

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Christmas is just around the corner, whilst it’s cold we are still out picking veg and there’s a full list of what we have available on the Ordering Page of our web site. Please think about ordering your vegetables, and anything else you may want from our Christmas Shop, early to help us gague the quantities we need to pick.

We’ll be open or at least around all day on Friday, Saturday and close at Noon on Sunday 24th, so please make sure that you’ve collected everything you need by then. This year we have our Christmas Grotto open which is at the end of our lane, past the house and in part of the barn fronting onto the lane, lots of room to park, easier for browsing and loading up.

We look forward to seeing you before Noon on Sunday 24th and wish you a very Happy Christmas and Prosperous and Healthy New Year.  We will be open again on Friday 5th January 2018.

 

Christmas is coming

Our Christmas turkeys are reared as day old poults, arriving in the Summer, and allowed to grow and mature slowly over the months running up to December. Their feed is supplemented by our organic vegetable waste – we’ve found that cabbage is their favourite! – and they are allowed to roam free in the field during the day. We have a very loyal customer base who have been returning to us for years and are very proud of our reputation for producing what many customers describe as the most delicious turkey they have ever had.

On the vegetable front, winter veg is in full swing, with plenty of greens, including sprouts, sprout tops, curly kale, Red Russian kale, cavalo nero and purple sprouting to complement our usual range of root vegetables. One of the biggest challenges that we are faced with during the winter months is ensuring a continual supply of staple items such as carrots is possible; this involves planting the crop at intervals throughout the Autumn, including some sowings in our polytunnels for the latter months.

We will be open for collection during the run up to Christmas, although please be aware we will also be out picking vegetables on the Thursday and Friday,  We will be closed between Christmas and the New Year but back to usual deliveries and opening times on January 5th.

2017 has been a busy and somewhat challenging year for us; the highlight was being shortlisted for the Soil Association BOOM (Best of Organic Market) awards in the Fresh Produce section with our asparagus.  Lucy and Anita attended the Awards Ceremony at Borough Market in London in July and had the most amazing time.  We’d like to wish all of our customers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – we look forward to seeing you in 2018.

Autumn Update

Having been politely reminded that our last ‘Recent News’ article related to the arrival of asparagus back in April, I felt it high time to bring this page more up to date!

Summer has passed here at Bothen Hill, hectic as always but with the major excitement of being shortlisted for the Soil Association’s BOOM (Best of Organic Market) Award, with Anita and Lucy travelling to Borough Market early in July for the Award Ceremony. On an exceedingly hot day we were joined with many others and whilst we were runners up in our category, the whole experience was most memorable.

Back on the farm, apart from the usual challenges with the weather, and an enormous number of slugs and snails due to the wet weather, things have progressed well. Planting was managed in good time and then harvesting took place. We have been fortunate to have had a wonderful crop of sweet corn this year, which lasted from the end of July until well into September, and also cherry tomatoes.

The potato harvest proved somewhat challenging due to very wet weather in September, but all is now safely gathered in, and having cleared the field of the traditional pumpkins for 31st October we are now left with only the Crown Prince squash in that department.

Sprout Tops are yielding well and confirm that autumn is now well and truly here and we have some magnificent red cabbages available as well. The turkeys are enjoying the autumn sunshine and are roaming about outside, as are the pigs who will be providing sausages to complement the turkeys at the end of the year – don’t forget to order early to avoid disappointment!

Apart from the usual carrots, spinach, chard and salad, other vegetables being harvested this week include parsnips, leeks, swede, beetroot, red and green cabbage and cauliflowers, see our order page for the full list.

Asparagus has Arrived

Yes, it’s arrived with the recent hot weather.  We’re now picking each day and as long as we don’t have more very cold nights are confident that the crop will improve day on day. Available from the farm gate on Friday mornings, together with all our other vegetables, and also at Bridport Street Market on the junction of East and West Streets on Saturday morning.

Asparagus is nearly here!

The recent warm weather has started to wake the asparagus and we were excited last week to find the very first spears emerging, this always heralds the start of the new season, even though traditionally it shouldn’t be arriving until 24th April which is St George’s Day! However, it certainly should not be too long before we are starting to harvest to sell.

Things are certainly busy on the farm, we have started planting main crop potatoes and should complete this task either later this week or early next.  We’ve planted out french beans in the tunnels to ensure that we have an early crop and the spinach, chard and beetroot which was sewn in the field earlier is already emerging, as are the carrots. The sugar snap peas are coming on well in the field, as are the broad beans, so we need lots of sunshine to aid their growth.

In the tunnels sewn seeds are germinating and beginning to grow well. The first tomatoes are nearly ready to be pricked out and the peppers are growing strongly. The onions and leeks which were sewn earlier in the year are looking strong and have been put outside to make room for cabbage, calabrese and the first of the sprouts. We’re certainly having a busy time at the moment and the sunshine is most welcome!

February’s Here!

 

It doesn’s seem possible that already we are seven weeks into the year and already planting has begun both inside and out! In the tunnels we already have lettuce, onions and leeks germinated, with more modules of thelatter sewn and a plan for what’s happening next.  The amazingly mild weather has enabled plantings of carrots and spinach, both of which have germinated and are clearly visible in their lines.  The peas and broad beans, which were sewn several weeks ago are now up and covered in fleece to prevent the rooks from drilling them out again! It’s amazing how these birds know that the seeds are germinating below ground and literally help themselves as soon as they can!  The potatoes which were planted last month are tucked under their fleece, no sign of any movement yet, which is just as well because with so much mild weather I’m sure that there will be a sting in the tail and we’ll have another cold snap before long.

We’ve been busy putting muck on the asparagus beds, a somewhat lengthy process with one on the tractor and one on the pick, but hopefully our efforts will pay off. Last summer was excellent for this year’s crop and so we are hopeful of a good yield, although we’ll have to wait a while before the first spears emerge.

Meantime, it’s dry enough to cultivate another area for more peas and beans, just hoping that we keep them to ourselves and the rooks don’t prosper!

The New Year has arrived

We’re now a month into the New Year and it’s certainly been all go here at Bothen Hill. Following a very hectic Christmas we took a week out to catch up  and have some quality family time!

Back into the swing of things, and we’re already having deliveries of seeds which were ordered during our break; lots of discussion about what was successful last year and what varieties do and don’t want to be repeated. We certainly had some wonderful crops last year, and are hoping that this year’s seed selection will produce equally good results!

The seed potatoes arrived a couple of weeks back and with a lull in the wet weather, although very cold, we were able to plant four lines of earlies last week. They are now tucked up under the fleece and hopefully will provide us with an early copy in May, subject of course to the ever-variable weather.

We have already sewn early cabbage, calabrese, lettuce and leeks, and good germination has taken place in the poly tunnel;s. Last year we changed our compost with amazingly good results, so a large pallet was delivered a couple of weeks ago in the hope that we get the same results again.

Meantime of course, picking continues between the storms if possible. The root crops are doing well and we’ve also got plenty of sprouts. Thankfully the greens appear to be holding up well against the frosts, the cauliflowers don’t like it but we’ve had a good crop and hopefully there will be more to come soon…..

Another busy week ….

 

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Another busy week on the farm, following the deluge of rain at the beginning of last week everything is exceptionally wet and muddy. However sunshine and winds have helped to dry things out, although most of the root vegetables need washing when harvested. This week we’ve started to harvest celeriac, always known as the ‘Ugly Vegetable’ it’s great mashed with either parsnip or potato and makes a wonderful soup as well. This year’s crop of parsnips are particularly good, especially when roasted with Sunday dinner.

The last of the carrots are being drilled today, then that’s all the outside planting sorted for this year; just hoping that the weather doesn’t turn wet again and wash out all the seeds.

Sprouts are now ready and this year’s are certainly tasty, hard as bullets and very green. We’re selling them loose and ‘on the bone’ as well, so you can hang them in the cool and pick them as needed so that they are fresh all the time. We’ve also had a very good crop of Nero this year, the dark frilly leaves are full of goodness and make an attractive addition to the plate.

Everything is now looking towards Christmas with lots of organising and admin. to be done, so make sure you place your order early please, Our Christmas page is now open so have a look and make your decisions and then order via e mail – we always acknowledge so if you don’t hear from us please call to check everything is in order!

 

Autumn is Nearly Here

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Autumn is nearly upon us, the mornings are getting darker and fresher and the evenings are drawing in as well. In the fields we are starting to see more signs, the leaves on the trees are changing colour and the winter vegetables are appearing.

Squash are always associated with autumn and this year we certainly have a fantastic aray of different ones in beautiful colours. The Uki Kuri is always first to be harvested, sometimes known as the Red Onion Squash, and these are already proving to be very popular. We have also harvested some delicata, harlequin and butternuts which are currently in the field curring, but having already cooked some they are certainly tasty!

Nero de Toscana, also known as Italian Kale is also now ready, this beautiful dark green vegetable is full of vitamins and extremely tasty. Sprout Tops are also back on the menu and these are proving to be very popular with many of our customers; by picking these early the actual sprout plants really benefit and it won’t be long before the sprouts will be ready as well.

Parsnips are also looking good, we normally wait until we have had a good frost before we start to lift, but judging by the chill in this morning’s air this won’t be long.

Meantime we are still harvesting the last of an exceptionally good crop of cherry tomatoes and salad as always is plentiful, just to remind us that summer is still just about here!