Strawberries and artichokes

Strawberries and artichokes

May 15, 2024Calixta Killander

It's a fantastic week on the farm – the rain has been joyous after a weekend of intense sunshine and some of our early crop vegetables are really starting to pop! We're in the dryest part of the UK, so every dew drop of rain is appreciated, especially at this time of year when so many crops are getting established.

The peonies are a joy for the eyeballs; literal puffballs of pure candyfloss delight that fill the room with sweet scents. These are flying out of the door to chefs and florists, with a selection in our Farm Shop daily until they sell out.

Our artichoke field is absolutely bursting with artichokes. We grew them as trials using seed from a company in France and we're amazed at how well they're doing - the combination of heat then rain has made them very happy indeed. 

Part of why the artichoke field looks so stunning right now is that it's been planted with an understorey of clovers that are really coming into their own – this companion cropping helps smother weeds, keeps moisture in the ground and supports a wider cast of biodiverse insects and other organisms on the farm.

Between these and our young green garlics, it's a joy to have such abundant crops to pick in the hungry gap – which brings us on to our dear friend Simon in Norfolk whose luscious strawberries are now in season.

Simon has been growing strawberries for 40 years on his farm and has weathered many storms that have seen many of his berry-growing peers close down. Berries are a very tricky crop to grow profitably, requiring massively long days harvesting, irrigating and planting. Simon's had immense struggles in finding pickers but is battling on and we are so pleased to supply his delectable fruit with you all. We don't have the resources to dedicate to growing our own strawberries at scale so this partnership with Simon works well all round.

Calixta visited Simon's farm last week and was blown away by his set-up - the amount of biodiversity, bustling with pollinators and thriving berry bushes. She said that in her 12 years of farming she's never seen such abundance and health. Well done Simon!

We'd like to introduce another member of our growing team who almost completes our crew for the 2024 season. Anna is a Saffron Walden local who studied horticulture and has a varied background, including WWOOFing all over the UK, working at plant nurseries, picking strawberries and mushrooms, working on an off-grid campsite and pruning apple trees as well as a traineeship and subsequent three-year stint at English Heritage's Audley End. Anna comes from an ornamentals background and enjoys flower growing but has come to Flourish to learn more about veg growing. Favourite vegetable? Purple sprouting broccoli. 

That just leaves us to say that our Plant Emporium has been freshly restocked with unique Flourish-raised plants for sale, tenderly raised in our prop house and raised in peat-free potting mix to organic standards and ready to pop in your growing space at home. Go forth and grow!

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