Dispensing some veg box wisdom

We do have a few veg box slots available if you are interested, see this page.

Seven years as a market trader means I’ve heard a lot of observations about organic seasonal veg over the years, and wanted to share some my tips with you.

Firstly, It tastes better, so your cooking will be instantly next level too, I promise 😊

Andrea Bemis who’s books and blog I really recommend

Books
If you’re anything like me, you own a lot of cookery books, but maybe have only cooked a handful of recipes from them. Seasonal veg will make you try some of the new recipes.

Some good ones for seasonal UK veg are Anna Jones and Ottolenghi. I also really like Meera Sodha (Indian vegetarian) and Sabrina Ghayour (Middle Eastern and meat focused). For blogs I like Thug Kitchen, Green Kitchen Stories and Digging up the Dirt. The latter is written by Andrea Bemis who farms in Oregon, and her original recipes showcase the less sexy vegetables.

Food variety in a year, not a week
A seasonal veg box can feel abit like you are eating one crop until it’s coming out of your ears. Just when you are beginning to think not again, it will disappear again to be replaced by something else that feels refreshingly “new.” Asparagus, new potatoes, corn on the cob, beans and courgettes to name a few seasonal stars.
If something really is coming out of your ears I find batch cooking huge meals at a time works for me, and my two freezers testify to this. Great when you come home starving and freezing from a hard day on the farm.

Hungry gap
There is a ‘hungry gap’ in the UK from late April to early June where the stored Winter crops have finished and the new season crops are only just starting to appear. It’s a challenge to source organic UK veg at this time, and the prices reflect that. Hold your nerve, summer goodness is coming, and prices will drop again. 

Veggie tips
Cauliflowers, leafy cabbages and calabrese broccoli are sold per unit, and the price is the same whether it’s a good season or a poor season ie. whether they are big or small. As the farmer has done exactly the same work whether they are big or small. Just like farming, you may score a whopper or you may feel abit like you’ve been had.

Red/white cabbages, squash and celeriac are sold by weight, and some of them are huge. For cabbages, if you are feeling intimidated (and I used to), learn how to make sauerkraut, and you’ll never look back.

Making saurkraut with enormous red cabbages

For squash: soup, curry and adding to the Sunday roast are my go to’s. For soup- I add coconut and chilli. For curry- I add chickpeas and spinach/chard. For Sunday dinner, just roast along with your other roast veg, and snack on leftovers through the week.

For celeriac: I make soup and freeze.

If you are not sure what to do with a root vegetable, roast it, and make a quick dipping sauce for it. Great for packed lunches through the week, with a grain &/or salad.

Salads and greens

The veg is unwashed- we don’t have the washing facilities and it’s a whole next level of audit with Environmental Health to sell washed crops. But if you are finding the greens abit gritty, particularly the salad, I do recommend a salad spinner. Ours was just a couple of quid from Ikea (other retailers are available).
We grow alot of salad, it makes everything else viable. Make a simple salad dressing by adding 3 parts oil to one part acid (lemon or vinegar). Add garlic, salt and pepper, and drizzle over your salad. Add things like yogurt, tahini, capers, herbs, blended onion to make more interesting.
There can be a lot of greens like kale and chard, and a good way to get more into you, is to steam then stir fry as they will reduce down. Start stems first as they take longer to cook, then add leaves. Great with soy sauce/ garlic/ lemon juice/ butter.

How to store
Our greens are picked just hours before they are delivered to you. But if they are not in plastic, they will wilt very quickly. If we deliver crops like kale, herbs or chard in a bunch with an elastic band round it, then put it in plastic yourself, and put it in the fridge. They should last for up to 1 week.
If you don’t have a suitable plastic bag, put it in water, like a bunch of flowers.
DON’T just put it loose in the fridge, as it will wilt very quickly.

How long does it last?

Greens in plastic should last up to 1 week.
Dirty root veg should last months, as long as you do not let it dry out. In Spring time though, they will start to try and grow roots.
Garlic, squashes and onions will last for 1 year if stored well (dark, cool, not damp).
White and red cabbages should last a few weeks though the outer layer may start to age abit. This can just be peeled off.
Chillies and herbs can be dried or frozen.

Share your kitchen triumphs

If you do anything cool with one of our veggies, send me the recipe and a photo and I’ll post it with a credit to you. (The photo needs to look good though, and natural light is the best way to achieve this.)
 
Happy eating,

Lindsay 🙂

Reviewing the year

I took a long time over the Winter to mull over the year, and think about the future. It was difficult sometimes, but absolutely crucial to Reddy Lane growing. I am engaging in  negotiations about the future with my landlords, I have spreadsheet after spreadsheet on sales figures & projections, a spreadsheet showing me when to weed/sow/harvest each section of the field, and I am trying to make getting my own piece of land a reality.

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Space saving solutions via string and wood in the polytunnel

Visiting Sagar Lane Market Garden
I went to visit a market garden in Hebden Bridge called Sagar Lane, and took some inspiration. There are two sites, and they started 3 years ago, just like Reddy Lane. Unlike Reddy Lane they sell all their own veg in a box scheme, they do not buy in any veg from elsewhere. They have started small in their fields and cultivated more land as their business has grown. They also do not have organic certification, and therefore save themselves alot of money and paperwork, by simply informing their customers that they do not use pesticides. I also liked that one of the sites is a 20 minute (uphill!) walk from their house. And that their situation is relaxed enough that they have built a bender at the bottom of the garden with a wood burner in for woofers and friends to stay in. Also, a fantastic space saving invention in the polytunnel is hanging wooden shelves up with string. Their page is facebook.com/sagarlanemarketarden

Dishing up the dirt
I came across http://www.dishingupthedirt.com last year, and I love it. Andrea Bemis is farming 6 acres organically in Oregon with her husband, and her blog has recipes and fantastic photos of her meals and her farm. Being a woman and being a farmer can feel like you are a little out on a limb. Peer support is somewhat lacking. So, this excellent blog helps and some of the recipes I’ve followed have been great. I very much aspire to including information on what to eat with seasonal and local produce on this website. Following it on Instagram also signposted me to other organic farms in the US that were posting about their own veg and cooking. Ones I really like are: jbgorganic, high mowing organic seeds, revolution farm, pitchforkandcrow, evenpullfarm, sassafras creek farm, quarter branch farm, happy acre farm, jeffsorganicproduce, icecaporganics and transition farm robin.

andrea bemis
Andrea Bemis shows off her lettuces at her six acre farm in Oregon.