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As we approach the Hungry Gap, we are suddenly noticing the finish of many of the UK grown crops, but fortunately we are also seeing the arrival of some of the new season lines. As always at this time of year, the new crops coming in are so much more expensive than the old crops going out – but it’s like this in the Hungry Gap every year. I know that many customers like to prioritise the home grown crops, but we all get a bit fed up of cabbage and swede every week and we’ll now need to take advantage of the greater availability of crops from southern Europe.



It’s time to say goodbye to many of the winter roots. Our parsnips have finished completely, we are nearly out of swede and beetroot, and the choice of old season potatoes is very limited. But it’s not all bad news as we can now offer new season U.K. grown tomatoes from The Tomato Stall and they are really lovely. We also have limited availability of several other new season U.K. crops, such as aubergine, French beans, mini cucumbers, pak choi, and chard. Whilst the amounts remain so limited, we don’t put them on our price list, but we hope to see the volumes increasing very soon. There will a better supply of cauliflowers in the coming weeks and mid May should see the start of the U.K. grown new potato crop. Even though the volume of home grown crops is limited at the moment, there are still many imported crops which are reliable. Calabrese, celery, courgettes, cucumbers and peppers are consistently good and the quality of the Dutch onions and Spanish carrots is now better than that of the old season U.K. equivalent crops.



There is a similar situation with the choice of fruit available at the moment. We have had several months with very little change of options other than the different varieties of apples and pears. But now we have charentais melons, water melons and rhubarb all making an appearance, with nectarines and peaches to follow soon. Now I don’t want letters from the more botanically minded telling me that rhubarb is not a fruit – I’m sure that most of us know it’s an extended leaf stalk – but we all eat it as if it were fruit, and very good it is too! As for the apples, I’m sorry to say that we are coming towards the end of the U.K. and European crops and we’ll be looking to the Southern Hemisphere for our apples very soon. This will inevitably mean higher prices but I understand that the quality should be very good this year.


Many of you may have been aware that Phoenix has, for some time, shared premises, vehicles and some staff with a small local box scheme. As the farmer who was the mainstay with Skylark has now chosen to put more effort into his organic farming, Steve and I have decided to take Skylark under Phoenix’s wing, so to speak, and to keep the delivery scheme going. We do not expect any particular changes to the business, but with James as the manager, we plan to maintain the supply of local veg boxes.


We’ve heard from several farmers and growers that this looks like being a very slow start to the growing season. Even though the winter is supposed to have been one of the warmest on record, the soil appears to remain stubbornly cold and wet. The forecast for late April and May suggests there may be more cold weather to come. It’s looking like rhubarb crumble will be on the menu rather than slices of watermelon!


With Best Wishes from all at Phoenix.

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