News from the herb field: July
Monday 13 July 2020
Whilst much of the world has been at a stand still, things haven't slowed down in our herb field here at Organic Herb Trading. The last few months have been a hive of activity for Herb Field Manager, Sarah Weston. Read on to learn more.
“Well it’s been a crazy year so far, not just with the obvious, but the weather too! We had an unbelievably wet winter and then a drought in spring, which made the ground so hard we couldn’t even get a fork in it. We had monsoon rain in mid-June, and the herbs went crazy! Everything was then ready for harvest at the same time, and as we can only harvest when it’s dry those showery days made things a bit tricky. We’ve had a bumper harvest of Lemon Balm and Meadowsweet. We sell fresh Meadowsweet, as well as dried for stock, to customers ranging from cosmetics companies to animal feed suppliers. We divided plants in 2018 and grew some from seed last year, and now have three beds doing really well.
We’ve also done the first big angelica seed harvest which has done quite well. This year has been a nightmare for Aphid, but we have a very healthy population of Ladybirds and Lacewings so hopefully things will balance out with a predator boom! We now grow three Angelica beds every year, two for root harvest, and one for seed harvest. Angelica is biennial but we harvest the root after the first year of growth, Jan/Feb time, so that the plant hasn’t put all it’s energy into flowering and setting seed. For this reason we need a separate bed for seed harvest, as these plants need to grow for two full years, flowering and setting seed in the second year. Angelica seed loses its viability very quickly so it is one that you need to sow as soon as it’s ripe and ready. A bed has now been sown for seed production which will be harvested in summer 2022, alongside two beds for root harvest which will be harvested in Jan/Feb 2022. We have to wait for all the aerial parts of the plants to die back before harvesting the roots, again so all the goodness is in the roots and not the leaf, so this is why we harvest root in the autumn/winter months. I have found over the years that the root harvest is getting later and later as the autumns and winters are getting warmer, and Angelica seems to hold onto its leaves for longer than some other root crops.
It’s been a busy old time in the herb field with all the usual things like seed sowing, getting beds ready, planting out, weeding, and harvest, harvest, harvest! My two seasonal workers, Nikki and Fi, were a little later arriving but are here now which is fantastic. The lovely photo above of one of our Angelica plants in the field during May, was taken by Nikki”.