Too much …

Chard LeavesToo much chard, too much kale was the cry this week. It was planted late in the poly tunnels so it grew late. It was meant to be earlier in the cropping for the hungry gap but things didn’t quite go according to plan. But at least we can all enjoy Christine’s kale and swiss chard tart amongst other recipes. And Ian, our grower, is happy that so far he hasn’t had to buy in greens during the hungry gap.

“The hungry gap? Nicely written in this article from the Sustainable Food Trust:

As April draws on, we get our first glimpse of sunshine and warmer days. But just as we shed our multiple layers and start sparking up the barbecue, the grey clouds roll in and hailstones pelt down on our misguided enthusiasm.

Our expectations of what produce is in season in spring are similarly unrealistic. Our eagerness to shrug off the monotony of winter is evident in how prematurely spring foods appear on restaurant menus and in glossy supermarket magazines, enticing us with peas, broad beans, asparagus and new potatoes. The supermarket shelves overflow with fresh spring produce, but if you look a bit closer at the label, the majority will be imported from far off places – Thailand, Mexico, Tanzania, Israel. The reality for British farmers is that April is the leanest month of the year.
Spring in Britain is not what you might expect – there is no new overflowing bounty. Rather, this is the period when the winter crops of cabbage and kale have bolted and the stores of potatoes, onions and roots are running out. Spring vegetables have only just been sown and won’t be ready to harvest until May and June. We call this the ‘hungry gap’ and it comprises the better part of spring. Most of us are blissfully unaware of it because the supermarkets do such a great job of supplying us with cheap and abundant fresh produce all year round. So much so, that seasons hardly seem to matter.

Before imported produce was affordable for the masses, eating in the hungry gap was both hard and uninspiring – a diet dominated by old potatoes and cabbage. Preserved fruits and vegetables from other seasons provided some variety in our food during this period. But, more recently, the introduction of protected cropping on a commercial scale has greatly expanded the range of vegetables available to eat in Britain during the spring.”