Up until now, it’s been a fine season. Warm, not too hot; and a decent amount of moisture: after the parched spring, accumulated rainfall has pulled itself back to last year’s level. OK, the peppers are asking for more heat, but you can’t please all the plants all the time: the temperate field veg is giving good feedback, and the salad leaves are holding up.
Mid to late summer is a difficult patch in the grower-supporter relationship (supporter being a preferable term to customer when talking about our produce recipients). Just as the lean times give way to abundance, half the people you’ve grown it for seem to disappear to some far-flung festival or holiday destination.
From the supporters’ perspective, the hot months drive a change in palette, in favour of light, cool, “wet” foods: surely, if there was ever a time to relish ultra-fresh local salad leaves, this is it! Yet, this is exactly the moment when I begin issuing dire warnings about the “salad gap” (see blog post 31 August 2010).
This year, thanks to the aforementioned weather conditions, the winter salads should be off to a flyer, whilst the veterans of spring hold up well. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a salad gap, but, with a bit of luck and judgement, it should be narrower and shallower than might be the case.
Meanwhile, our Open Day this month will feature the first of a series of public workshops exploring different ways of preserving “surplus” produce. So perhaps growers and supporters alike will make it through the bumpy patch wasting not and wanting not.