After the worst start to the year that we have had in our 9 seasons at Trill, it has turned out to be the best year so far, with bumper harvests of many crops. There are always some crops that fare better than others, but this year the majority of crops have done well. The demand for salad has been particularly high, and whilst stories in the news told of supermarkets importing salad from the US we were not having a problem with growing it here in East Devon.

We have been harvesting over 150kg of salad each week through the summer holidays, with our record pick of 68kg in one day, and since the beginning of the year have harvested over 2.5 tonnes in total. Our tomato harvests have been great this year too, with our biggest ever harvest of 70kg in one day and averaging about 150kg each week in the summer holidays. Rita, our trainee has been looking after the tomatoes this year, and we think that the combination of extra attention with sideshooting and training, along with the misting for improved pollination has meant that a lot of the flowers set, and much of the energy went into the fruit, leading to much higher yields than usual. Of course the copious amounts of sun have helped to ripen all of that fruit too.

Other bounteous crops include the french and runner beans, and we have been picking around 60kg of french beans each week. Whilst we have harvested over 500kg of courgettes, we have also sold 1300 of the flowers. We harvested over 2000 bunches of spring onions, a quarter of which were picked in August. This is the case for the majority of our produce; with around a quarter of our earnings coming from August, it is an extremely intense month of harvesting. It is also a sort of second Spring in terms of planting and we have planted about 3000 chicory along with lots of other veg after clearing earlier crops of shallots, lettuce, broad beans and peas.

We have sown about half a million seed so far this year, but we have also harvested a huge amount for ourselves and for the Real Seed Catalogue. We are growing parsnips for Real Seeds and have harvested somewhere between 1.5 million and 2 million seed, along with half a million chard seed for them.

So, overall after an awful start which led us to “write off” the year (at the end of April), somehow things turned around as soon as it stopped raining in May, and we eventually caught up. We are lucky enough to have a good setup including a borehole, so that during the dry summer we could irrigate when necessary, which has meant that our summer salad has not bolted too quickly and new plantings didn’t frazzle in the heat (our maximum temperature in one of the polytunnels reached 59.1°C!). It has been a good lesson in not giving up in times of adversity, but has also shown us how reliant on the weather we are to produce food, and on marginal vegetable growing land like that at Trill it will never be simple.

Ash and Kate have created a vegetable growing enterprise, Trill Farm Garden at Trill Farm, supplying the Old Dairy Kitchen as well as neighbouring restaurants with fresh, seasonal, varied produce.