Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Light relief: Norma's (Zamani Farms, Jos) farm update:

Advance warning: the strawberry situation remains 'uncertain':

"Hello customers,

It looks like the dry season is finally here (about a month later than usual). The weather has turned cool and dry. This morning at about 6am on the farm it was 16 degrees and the humidity is quite low. This weather is ideal for some of our vegetables, especially broccoli and lettuces, although others like courgettes and cucumbers prefer a more humid atmosphere. But we have to work with whatever is available and make the best of it.

Our lettuces are thriving, and many varieties are available. The head lettuces like iceberg and butterhead are starting to make small heads, but by next week they should be full sized. Other leaf lettuces like salad bowl, lollo rossa, prizeleaf and other red lettuces are also available, as are red and green cos and other varieties. We can make you up a nice mixture of colours and textures if you like.

We should have some endive frisee as well, although we are struggling to keep up with the big demand for this item. We are planting every week, but endive takes much longer to grow than lettuce, so we will have to be a bit patient.

Radicchio too is on the way but needs another couple of weeks. It too is a very slow grower.

Our courgettes are finally coming back to full production, and we have both green and cousa available, along with a small quantity of yellow ones. Our new squashes are also beginning, and we should have some yellow crookneck, some acorn and butternut for next week. Different varieties of pumpkins are also coming along and should be ready soon. We will let you know. (Unfortunately none of them produced in time for Halloween).

We are getting very nice plum tomatoes now, which is the only type of tomato available in quantity at present. Our new outdoor plants of cherry tomatoes are flowering and we should have quite a few cherries in a week or two. At the moment, we are relying on the end of the crop in the greenhouse, so there is limited availability. We are in between crops of beef tomatoes, and there are none at all for next week.

We have nice Chinese cabbage, Bok Choi, sorrel and some spinach. Our new Kale and Collard greens are coming along and should be ready shortly, but not next week. Kohlrabi is also now available in reasonable quantities, along with green cabbage. Red cabbage should be coming along soon.

We have nice cucumbers – both salad and pickling types – as well as leeks, radishes, spring onions, and fennel.

Beetroots and carrots have virtually disappeared. Our own crops of these have finished, and they are hardly available in the market. This year, because of the prolonged rainy season, most farmers were not yet able to sow their dry season crops in time, so there might be a relatively long gap before these become widely available. If we can get good quality ones locally we will supply, but if you don’t receive any please understand. We had to ration carrots in our last supply, and we are not sure of the situation for next week.

Our herbs are growing nicely in the sunny weather, and our new basils are coming along well. For next week we should have Thai basil, lemon, some red and cinnamon. Green (Genovese) is still not big enough to pick. Most other herbs are available, as are ginger root and fresh turmeric. As I noted a couple of weeks ago, it is the end of the season for garlic, and most of the heads available are relatively small. The new garlic should be along sometime this month. (We get good ones locally that come to Jos from Kano and Maiduguri). We will let you know if it starts becoming available.

Our new French beans should be ready to pick next week, despite the fact that our rabbit pests have returned and are trying to eat some of them. (Our security guards are on 24 hour rabbit alert). We have a small quantity of Liana (snake) beans available, as well as some Roma beans (Italian slicing beans). All are very nice. We might also have a few sugar snap peas for next week, as they have started producing a few pods. The mangetout (snow peas) are taking longer and are not yet ready.

We are planting out a lot of new aubergines, but they don’t much like dry weather and don’t produce as much as they do in rainy season. We will do our best to keep up with the demand, and have put in some new varieties. As they become available we will let you know.

Green bell peppers are the only ones available at present. Italian corni di toro, Jalapenos and others are still growing and are not yet ready to pick.

We should have some reasonable amount of broccoli for next week, as our next batch is fruiting. However, the demand is always huge, so we might have to ration to half kg if there is not enough to satisfy all the orders.

For fruit, the situation is a bit limited. Our pawpaws are growing well and producing a lot of fruit, but have not yet started ripening. The same is the case with our avocado pears.

We should have a limited amount of cape gooseberries and passion fruit.

The strawberry situation is uncertain – they started to produce and then stopped. Usually they need a bit of time to adjust to changes in the weather. We will see if any are producing by next week. If there are any, we will ration to half kg per customer as there certainly won’t be enough to go around. Meanwhile, the birds have discovered them, and we are trying our best to keep them away from the fruit.

Other items should be available as usual, including nice (but smaller) Nicola potatoes. We have virtually stopped supplying very large ones because the varieties that produce large sized tubers tend to spoil quickly, and we have found the Nicola variety to be the best in terms of taste and texture, as well as keeping ability. We are still waiting for the red-skinned floury potatoes to become available."


MsMak,  6:59 pm  

I spent the better part of six years in secondary school in Jos. Apart from the wonderful weather, peaceful town and nice people, the one thing i really miss are the fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers everywhere!

I remember when i used to have a school cook buy me a bag of the sweetest best guava in the country or carrots for N5.00 only! Mothers (mine included) who came from Lagos and other places to see their kids on visiting day would make sure to buy a basket or two of tomatoes, peppers, or whatever else to take back... they would promptly take them to the market back home, grind them all, and store in the deep freezer...it could last a family 3 or 4 months!

Because of the temperate weather i know a lot of people maintained gardens, and i saw so many varieties of roses there...

If Dariye didnt spend so much time stealing money and carrying mistress(es) abroad, maybe the state government can pursue some sort of agricultural and horticultural program, for export to other states and even abroad... think of all the fine restaurants that may open in Lagos, Calabar and even Abuja that would need not so common vegetables like aubergines, endives and brooccoli...

Akin 9:23 pm  

I also grew up in Jos, well in a suburb called Rayfield and we sure did have so much land where cattle grazed and a grove of mango, lemon and fig trees.

As my father honed his green fingers, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers and every kind of vegetable was planted for a bountiful harvest.

It was like we had spring and autumn each year - Zamani Farms does seem to have one raconteur - no doubt.

Here's to Bugs Bunny!

culturalmiscellany 10:01 pm  

If you can get radiccio try this:

quarter it, produce a slightly over sweet vinagrette dressing, pour dressing over raddiccio quarters and grill or lightly bbq. then serve with barracuda (swordfish) steak bbq'd with a cajun spice coating. i think you'll find it most appealing.

Aaron Rowe 10:40 pm  

As a Welshman I'd really love to get some fresh Leeks. Anyone know where I might get some around VI and Ikoyi, Lagos? I know I've had them before here so they must be available.

Email me at address in my blogger profile if you can help me out.

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