From seed to service – the Potager Garden diary

By 1st November 2023 No Comments

November 2023

We’ve had some illustrious visitors to the Crouchers estate over recent years.

I’ll never forget saying ‘Good morning’ to the actor Sam Neill (he of Jurassic Park fame) as he came out of one of our cottages.

Most recently, we have played host to the production team behind one of the BBC’s flagship shows.

As part of the corporation’s ‘green’ ethos, I was asked to prepare a report on the potager’s green credentials.

At first I was a little perplexed – just how far had we maximised our sustainability efforts?

Then, as we thought it over, it became apparent it is not just our fingers that are green.

For strarters, the very foundations of the potager garden were built using timber recycled from the former cider farm (now the site of the Cider House Kitchen).

To create the pathways around the potager, we invited local tree surgeons to drop off their woodchippings, and the whole path has been constructed using this.

During the growing season, we recycle – at minimum – 600 litres of rainwater via water butts, and we are currently installing more.

We used recycled timber to build two compost bins, where we recycled all our garden waste – in the five years the potager has been in action, we have created in the region of 20,000 litres of compost.

This is not the only composting that takes place – during the autumn we collect all the fallen leaves from around the hotel to create leaf mould. I estimate we have created almost 5,000 litres of high-quality leaf mould – and the ferns love it.

The potager is entirely organic and we use no pesticides or herbicides – instead we employ companion planting, we have installed almost a dozen bird feeders to attract wildlife and we intend to create bug hotels.

And any visitor to the potager will know that we plant a variety of flowers to attract pollinators to not only do that invaluable pollination, but to also hunt down pests.

Additionally, and this may seem odd, but we also use any old bedding, carpet and even an old gazebo roof as weed suppressants (don’t tell my wife, but an old duvet cover is currently acting as the door to the brassica cage!).

Meanwhile, time waits for no man, and we’ve already sown our onion and garlic sets, as well as sweet peas under glass.

There is still plenty of produce heading up to the kitchens – namely the old reliables such as curly kale, cavolo nero, swede, leeks and spinach.

But these are slowing down as we head into the depths of autumn – and while it is a mild period still, when will this incessant rain stop?

~ Tim