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Running to seed

Meteorologically, it has been a near perfect spring; a gloriously bright, dry, and sometimes even hot April has allowed us to plough, spread muck, and plant – with just enough frost and chilly easterlies to keep us honest.

By Guy Singh-Watson 

Most farmers self-isolate by choice anyway (it comes with the job); add to that the new-found appreciation for food, and I reckon we are the lucky ones. My heart goes out to those locked in flats, especially the young and their care-givers, and to less fortunate businesses.

There is still plenty of moisture in the soil at depth, but newly planted lettuces, pak choi and chard already need irrigation, to help their emerging roots reach the water below. In the polytunnels, the lettuces, rocket, baby chard, claytonia and mustard that we have been harvesting all winter are coming to an end; as temperatures rise and days lengthen, they become hell-bent on reproduction, throwing out seedheads rather than the leaves we want. 

With the first tomato plants now arriving, we will spend a manic three weeks ripping out the winter salads, spreading compost, cultivating the soil, and replanting the tunnels with summer crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, chillies, aubergines and peppers.

Self-confessed veg nerd, Guy Singh-Watson has over the last 30 years taken Riverford from one man and a wheelbarrow delivering homegrown organic veg to friends, to a national veg box scheme delivering to around 55,000 customers a week. Guy is an opinionated and admired figure in the world of organic farming, who still spends more time in the fields than in the boardroom. Twice awarded BBC Radio 4 Farmer of the Year, Guy is passionate about sharing with others the organic farming and business knowledge he has accumulated over the last three decades. 

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