The veg display is awash with green this week as we welcome bountiful deliveries of new season leaves from many of our favourite local growers.
Spinach, both true and perpetual, is available from three different North West farms – Glebelands in Sale, Gielty in Ormskirk and Flintoff in Preston. Each supply is a little different in its size and colour, a reflection of the unique soil composition and aspect of the three farms. What they do all share though is a sweet and tender flavour. Pair with potatoes for a fresh saag aloo, serve raw as the base of a salad or throw a few handfuls in with pasta before serving. It’s our veg of the month for May too so look out for plenty of recipe inspiration instore.
A note on the difference between true and perpetual varieties: perpetual spinach is easier to grow (and therefore cheaper) as its leaves grow back quickly and each plant yields several cuts. True spinach does not regrow in the same way, and is more sensitive to temperature and moisture levels too, this makes it trickier to grow and warrants the higher price at the till.
The UK asparagus season is well under way. A perennial crop, asparagus takes at least 2 years to build up a substantial root mass in order to grow the spears which we eat. Notoriously difficult to grow, it is also a delicate crop to harvest. As organic growing doesn’t deploy herbicide spraying as a means of weeding, our supply is also a labour intensive job to maintain! Watts, from whom we’ll have 2 deliveries a week, have a special small tractor that weeds in between the rows without disturbing the roots.
Traditionally, the last asparagus harvest of the year is on June 21st, after which the ferns are left to grow in order to absorb sunshine energy into the plant throughout the rest of the summer. In other words, enjoy it while it lasts!
From Europe we are scoffing excellent value Spanish blueberries and raspberries. There are some lovely new season courgettes available from France too, look out for the more unusual yellow and round varieties. The stone fruit season is beginning with the first peaches and nectarines available and whispers of apricots not far off…reports from the soft fruit orchards of France and Spain are that this is going to be a great year for stone fruit, fingers crossed this optimism continues…