From seed to service – the Potager Garden diary

By 12th March 2024 No Comments

March 2024

This weather is biblical isn’t it? The general consensus is that our winters will continue to get wetter and wetter, so I’m afraid it is something we’re all going to have to get used to.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the water. I am, I suppose, a water baby. I’ve swum many miles in the pool, even swum across the Solent, and I loved every minute of it.

Lately, the fact you have to either book a swimming session or pay through the nose has put me off diving in the pool, and so I have been looking at alternatives.

However, swimming from the hotel to the potager in the ever-rising flood water is not what I had in mind.

The truth is, we cannot control mother nature (although much the Crouchers management believe I do – “No, we cannot put cut roses in the restaurant in February, because there are no roses to cut.”).

So when it rains, it’s time to get indoors and prepare for the drier days.

To that end, after a long chat with the head chef, I have been ordering the seeds we shall be sowing in the coming months.

We’re trying some different produce this year, including the English Vesuviano Piennolo tomato.

They are a tiny tomato that burst with flavour – perfect for salads and garnishes.

When it comes to sowing, I leave it as late as possible. For example, the tomato seeds instructions state sowing under cover from February to March, or outdoors from April to May.

Now I will be growing under cover in my greenhouse, but I will be leaving it to at least mid-April.

If I owned a heated propagator or had the space to keep my sown seeds indoors, I would sow earlier, but I have neither.

The reason I leave it as late as possible is to give spring as long as possible to warm up – I believe if you sow too early and there is not the warmth to trigger germinate, then the seed will lose its viability and fail.

Maybe we cannot control mother nature, but we can give it the best chance to succeed.

In other news, the chefs’ garnish garden is almost ready for their use. They will have flowers from  violas, cowslips, nasturiums and panises to spread a little colour on your plate.

Talking of colour, I hope our mother’s day primroses brought a smile to the faces of our special guests earlier this month.

It was the brainchild of our marketing guru, Cath – it was a great shout, and hopefully there will be many more of these ideas for future special occasions.

It’s an example of how we’re trying to be a little different here at Crouchers, offering you something that is not offered elsewhere.

We know there is a plethora of wonderful restaurants and hotels out there all vying for your attention, and so when you visit Crouchers, we are always grateful.

So here’s hoping you’ll be eating with us over the summer, enjoying the tasty bullets of Vesuviano Piennolo tomatoes that will be sown very soon!

~ Tim