Newsletter - July 2018

Find out how the hot, dry weather is affecting the farm, learn all about courgettes and check you are receiving our emails. 
How the hot, dry weather is affecting the farm

We are now into our second month of very little rain, combined with lots of hot, sunny weather. This brings both challenges and advantages.

  • Stunted plants/slow growth – many crops are smaller than usual because they haven’t had enough water to grow and mature. This is especially true for our summer calabrese which hasn’t developed properly in this weather. Other crops, including chard and perpetual spinach are bolting because of the stressful dry conditions.
  • Planting is difficult – we have had to hold back on some of our plantings due to the dry conditions and limited capacity to be able to water everything in. Plants are most vulnerable when they are first planted out and we have lost several bean, parsley and beetroot seedlings because they could not tolerate the dry conditions.
  • Some seeds including lettuce will not germinate over 30 degrees. They are currently on trays underneath the tables in the seed house where there is some shade from the heat of the day.
  • We are having to do lots of watering which is very time-consuming. We are watering with hose pipes, a sprinkler system and a tractor-mounted water tank, depending on the crop and where it is located in relation to a tap.
  • Difficult working conditions – the hot weather is also challenging for our staff. The heat of the day can be very intense. We are starting work at 6am to get the harvesting done before the sun is too strong. Thank you to all our WWOOF volunteers and staff for persevering and working so hard to get crops planted, hoed, weeded and watered.
  • Hot produce - we are also concerned about keeping our veg boxes and produce cool in all this heat. We are delivering early or late where possible to avoid the heat of the day. But do please leave a cool box out for us to keep your veg as fresh as possible.


On the plus side, there is less weeding than usual as the weeds are not growing as fast. And the Mediterranean crops – courgettes, squash, aubergines, cucumbers and tomatoes – are flourishing in all the sunshine. We could definitely do with some good rain soon though!



Curcubita pepo
One vegetable that is thriving in all this hot sunny weather is the courgette, Curcurbita pepo. At Shillingford Organics, we grow four varieties of courgette  -DunjaMidnightAtena and Sunbeam giving a mix of shapes including the flying saucer pattypans, and colours from dark green to brilliant sunshine yellow. The first sowing is made at the end of March and planted out at the end of May, and a later sowing at the beginning of June for planting out in early July. They are planted out using the tractor-mounted planter, composted and protected with a tyre to keep off the worst of the wind and cold while the plants are young. At the moment we are watering them twice a week and harvesting once a day to keep on top of the prolific production of courgettes!
Courgettes contain very few calories and have a high water content. They provide useful amounts of vitamin C and potassium, which is important in regulating blood pressure. And the soluble fibre in the skin slows down digestion which stabilised blood sugar and insulin levels.
The internet is full of recipe ideas for using courgettes at the moment. They are delicious lightly sautéed in olive oil with whole garlic cloves for flavour and then tossed through pasta, or grated in salads. Here are a few of our favourite recipe suggestions:
Courgette pikelets
Spiced courgettes

Courgette tacos
Look out for our courgettes in your boxes and at Exeter Farmer’s Market and let us know your favourite courgette recipes.


Please return your crates!

We are missing some of our plastic veg box crates. Part of this is due to us delivering on different days and times during this unusual heat, but please, where possible, can you leave out any empty crates for collection. And a cool box if you have one to keep your veggies as fresh as possible.
We have also noticed some of our trays are being used for recycling and other types of waste, we would politely ask you not to do this.  

Are you receiving our emails?

It would appear some of our customers are not receiving important emails from us. This could be because they end up in your spam/junk folder. If this is the case, you may find this information below useful:
Your Safe Senders List is managed by you within your email program and can be easily updated based on your preferences. By default, email messages that you add to your own personal address book are considered safe and will not be re-routed to your junk email folder. Here are a couple of commonly used programs:

  1. In Outlook, go to the Home tab.
  2. Click the Junk button (from the toolbar)
  3. Choose "Junk E-Mail Options" from the drop-down list.
  4. Go to the Safe Senders tab.
  5. Type in our email address or domain name
  6. Click OK.


  1. Select Actions from the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  2. Select Junk E-mail.
  3. Select Junk E-mail Options...
  4. Click the Safe Sender tab.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Type in our email address or domain name
  7. Click OK.

For any other email programs, you should be able to find help on the internet


Celebrate the summer with Shillingford Organics

 Join us on Sunday 22nd July to see the farm at the height of summer. For more information and booking details please click here