At a certain time around the beginning of a new year, myself and our fantastic head chef Dave sit down and discuss how the potager garden can best serve the restaurant kitchen.
We had that meeting last week and it has triggered the planning phase of life down at the potager – as well as the promise of warmer days to come – as we now know what homegrown goodies will be adorning your plates.
All the required seeds have been ordered and over the coming months, the process of sowing will begin.
It’s very tempting to start sowing too early, but it is wiser to wait until the risk of frosts have completely passed.
There is always the danger of a snap frost out of the blue, but caution and patience are the best bedfellows.
Sowing under glass can eliminate the problem somewhat – even more so if you use a heated mat – but I still prefer to wait as long as possible.
We already have radishes in the polytunnel, but the real fun starts on March 1 when we’ll sow our aubergines underglass.
Aside from the requests from Dave in the kitchen, there has also been a request from Carol and Cath in the office – a request for loofas.
These need sowing around the end of March, and they grow a little like squashes – but they will need some vertical supports.
This is the first time I have attempted loofahs, and therein lies the constant excitement of gardening – and if all goes well, then you may be scrubbing your back with a homegrown loofah very soon!
In other news, our new attempts at attracting more birds to the potager is really starting to pay off.
We have been hanging peanuts, seeds and nyger seeds from the trees and the birds have been flocking in.
Only last week, I stood and watched chaffinches, long-tailed tits, blue tits, great tits and even the odd woodpecker swoop down for a nibble – in spite of the troublesome squirrels.
But I was most pleased to see the goldfinches come in as they have taken their time to find the nyger seed.
We shall be installing birdboxes and even more feeders to keep the birds happy – don’t get me wrong, we benefit as well as the more natural predators we can attract the fewer pests and bugs we’ll have to deal with.
Mind you, in a desperate attempt to keep the squirrels off the strawberries, we have created a cage over the fruit that should be impenetrable – fingers crossed.
So, hopefully, it will not be long before you can enjoy some lovely strawberries, alongside all the other goodies that Dave has demanded! And you cannot let down your head chef!