Well, what a funny old year it’s been, in the peculiar sense anyway, and it certainly hasn’t dragged, with plenty to do in the kitchen garden.
Throughout 2020, we’d had a very good harvest, with the legumes being exceptional. With the huge success of the ‘Phezeroo’ service, this abundance provided the kitchen with plenty of produce, keeping the kitchen staff very busy!
This year, we are again growing runner beans, French beans and sugar snap peas. Apart from the runner beans which I like to start off in 7cm pots, the other were sown direct in the bed, with non-starters being replaced where needed.
Unfortunately, the direct sowing of the salad crops was unsuccessful, (perhaps due to predators), with further sowings of lettuce being made in seed trays, then pricked out and potted on, before being planted out.
Slugs and snails are always a problem, so in addition to the organic slug traps, we are also having to use organic slug pellets, as for some reason, the slug traps (which are baited with beer), haven’t been as successful as last year: perhaps the little pests have turned tee-total!
We are also growing two varieties of pointed cabbage and early purple broccoli, the latter being ready to harvest early next year. These were sown in seed trays, after again, like the lettuce, being eaten off after sowing directly, but are now planted out in their final positions.
In addition to slugs and snails, there is also the problem of pigeons, of which there are loads (!), so we have protected the plants with netting. You may have noticed the recent appearance of the Large White butterfly, (also known as the Cabbage White). These pests lay their yellow eggs on the leaves of brassicas (usually on the underside), and the caterpillars in turn do a lot of damage by munching. When protecting the plants, a small-holed netting is needed, which must sit clear of the leaves, so the butterflies can’t make contact to lay through it. A daily inspection should be made to check for eggs and caterpillars, which can then be disposed of. I remember when growing up, my mother telling me that butterflies and spiders, (both of which I love), were fairies in disguise, but I’m not convinced about the Cabbage White!
The fruit bed has really been delivering, with an abundance of gooseberries and blackcurrants keeping the kitchen staff busy, with blueberries following not far behind. These too have been netted to prevent birds being able to descend and gorge.
As we know, bees and pollinators are having a hard time at the moment, so we have decided to help them by growing more borage in the vegetable garden, which they absolutely love. Encouraging them in will also benefit us as the crops will also be pollinated. Borage flowers also look nice when frozen in ice cubes and added to a drink!
Now for what’s happening in the greenhouse: there are two varieties of tomato growing in there; ‘Moneymaker’ and ‘Gardeners Delight’. They are growing in the ground and not in growbags, as I find these tend to dry out too quickly. I don’t know about you, but I think they used to be thicker in past years; I suppose it’s like the Wagon Wheel scenario, swearing they used to be bigger!!
There are also two types of cucumber growing prolifically in there, which are proving hard to keep up with! These are obviously keeping the chefs on their toes, who have the task of being inventive and creative when using these in The Pheasant’s dishes, so keep your eye on the menu!
Cucumbers, like everything else, need to be watered daily (preferably in the evening when it’s cooler), and sometimes twice a day. Unless you are fortunate to have an automatic watering system installed, it means for the majority of us, the use of the good old watering can or hosepipe is needed. This can feel like a bit of a chore at times, having to go out late evening every day during this hot weather, but I actually find it quite pleasurable when accompanied by a glass of G&T; so go on, try it! Cheers!