Eva, who leads our horticulture team, sat down with me, Moles seed catalogue in hand, to talk about what’s growing at Church Farm this year. As winter might hopefully be drawing to a close, it’s time to get excited about plans for new crops and setting seeds.
This year promises new varieties of traditional crops, Jerusalem artichokes and lots of colour.
At the end of March, Eva and her team had already set 2000 leek seeds and many spinach seeds, had two varieties of mange tout growing, and were ready to begin setting tomato seeds. Eva says we are a bit behind last year, due to the lingering cold and snow we have had.
Mange tout, the year’s first crop, will come in green and purple. There will be three varieties of beetroot grown—one in traditional red/purple, a golden one, and a red and white striped variety called Chioggia. This year’s French beans will be green, yellow, some climbing and some dwarf. The team will be planting cherry tomatoes (small) and beefsteak tomatoes (large).
This year Church Farm is expecting to produce more strawberries for a longer harvest period, due to last year’s planting. This year, 500 new summer raspberries will go in, to increase the raspberry yield in coming years.
Last summer, Eva learned about Jerusalem artichokes from an enthusiastic chef in the Jolly Waggoner and will be growing them this year.
“Jerusalem artichokes are sweet and almost garlicky and mushroomy and gorgeous. Although called artichokes they’re actually tubers – like rough and ready potatoes. You can scrub and roast them whole like mini jacket potatoes and split them open, drizzled with a little chilli oil. You can even use them in a salad with smoky bacon. A Jerusalem artichoke’s best friends are sage, thyme, butter, bacon, bay, cream, breadcrumbs, cheese and anything smoked.”
Hopefully, you will enjoy something new this year, alongside the mainstays of lettuce, carrots, parsnips, cucumber, broad beans, runner beans, and courgettes. Would you like to see these things growing? Be sure to include horticulture and the polytunnels on your next walk around the farm. Are you having a weekly delivery from Church Farm? You can – it’s easy, at churchfarm.shop.
Photos from Moles Seeds, with permission.