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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 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 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!
Summer vegetables have arrived in abundance, the recent warm weather, coupled with interspersed showers, has brought us a flush of cauliflowers, green trivia as shown below, purple graffiti and traditional all of which are full of flavour. In addition the sweet corn, which we started harvesting at the end of July continues to produce wonderful sweet juicy cobs. Planted to ensure a constant supply through until September we hope to have these for several weeks to come.
The beans have taken something of a battering with the recent winds, we are having a break from french beans for a while and concentrating on the fine ones which are absolutely delicious. Unlike the french beans, they are not climbers but bush varieties, so whilst not easy to pick, they are at least protected from the weather. We will have more french beans as autumn comes along as these are shortly to be planted out in the tunnel for protection.
In the tunnels the tomatoes are producing very well, particularly the cherry varieties, this year we have grown both super sweet 100 and tomatoberry both of which are proving to be very popular. We also have a good crop of cucumbers and the peppers are looking promising although won’t be ready for a few weeks yet.
The summer vegetables have now arrived with abundance. Summer Purple Sprouting is always very popular and this is certainly cropping well. Unfortunately, with the recent hot weather, nobody seems very keen on cooking, hardly surprising, preferring to opt for salads instead! The tomatoes are ripening in the tunnels on a daily basis and are certainly sweet and juicy and full of flavour. We have grown ‘Super Sweet 100’ this year which is proving to be very popular, as are the slightly more traditional ‘Sun Gold’. Lettuce are looking good as well with plenty of variety and our salad bags are also popular.
We finally finished planting out the last of the brassicas last week, around 4,000 kale plants, together with the last of the leeks. The early leeks which were transplanted are looking good and we’re sure that it won’t be long before we can start to harvest. A little rain would not go amiss, but I expect this won’t be popular with some!
The French Beans which were planted early in the tunnels have cropped very well, but we will be taking these out shortly, with the beans in the field now being available for picking. The only crop which does look rather sad is the squash, we planted out beautiful healthy plants but unfortunately it appears that they didn’t like this year’s weather. We have a few which have survived, just hope that some of the others pick up soon.