Tulip mania ...

Viewed from the roadside and the car park at Roots at the moment are the beds of tulips and remaining spring flowers – with a little imagination we could be mistaken for being in a Dutch tulip field? Well, sort of, if you squint a little!! Armfuls are gathered just as they develop their full colour, hydrated and wrapped ready for immediate sale. Soil grown and picked at just the right moment, their full potential is revealed in colour, shape and size. The different varieties offer classic cup shapes, ‘parrots’ with their frilly edges, pretty doubles in pale colours that look almost like peonies and more unusual ‘lily-flowered’ varieties which open into star shaped flowers in the vase. It is no coincidence that the abundance of these flowers in a short window of time has led to a trend for luscious displays of tulips and Spring blossoms in the style of the works of art created by the ‘Dutch Masters’. But in fact, in the early – mid 17th century it was the rarity of the prized tulip blooms that sparked the exotic, detailed paintings. Collected, coveted and valued, the more unusual striped anomalies of a crop adding intrigue.

What a tulip does allow is our first moment of abundance and if there is a little time to play at arranging flowers in a vase, here is our chance. Allowing nature to elongate and add a little wobble in those long stems (tulips continue to grow in a vase of water), reaching towards a light source and opening fully in even the gentle warmth of Spring sunshine. We are doubling up our tulips over the next fortnight, so if you buy a wrap, you will receive an extra-large bunch, enough to lavish on your own display in the style of a ‘Dutch Master’.

The stunning blue-sky days of the last two weeks belies a series of headaches for growers, the exceptional lack of rain and particularly cold nights has held back crops including asparagus, delaying the new season and making the ‘hungry gap’ (the time between overwintered crops and Spring crops being ready) even longer. Of course, we deploy all tricks of the trade – polytunnels (what would we do without them) rammed with fast growing salad, chard, a few root crops, outdoor crops fleeced with irrigation sprinklers on rotation – thank goodness for the leeks (which we can hardly get out of the ground it is so hard!).

So click here for a recipe, ‘Vegetable Crumble’ shared with us by Root's customer Joan that makes the best of a frugal selection of ‘hungry gap’ vegetables. A really good family meal, one to make in advance then assemble and bake to feed a hungry crowd with no fuss!

A shortage of our fabulous home reared organic chicken is, thankfully, not something we have. Growing away under Will’s watchful eye, our chicken crops are going from strength to strength and just as well given their popularity with customers. Now available are many more chicken portions, breasts and chicken leg ‘quarters’ (that is the thigh and drumstick together). Dig out those recipe books and share your favourites with us!

And so soon onto the month of May … turning out the cattle will be our first job and fresh crops to look out for in the coming weeks include radish, turnip and kohl rabi. Fennel and carrots are planted and the rate of seed sowing hits frenzy point. If you see us striking strange poses around our fields it is because all we have left in our armoury is rain dancing, maybe getting out our summer wardrobes would help? Will is even considering cutting his hair!

Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May – it is raining (of course!) and Will has cheered up, a little.