From seed to service – the Potager Garden diary

By 30th May 2019 No Comments

June 2019

You find me writing this on a wet Wednesday afternoon, with a cup of warming tea at my side and Martha, our tabby cat, on my lap – and they call this summer!

I jest.

So far this year potager garden has been blessed with wonderful weather for growing produce, and in spite of this damp blip, the hot weather is due to return very soon.

The life-giving sun has been a real boom to the seedlings that I have planted out recently, as well as brassica seeds that went straight into the ground in the past week.

Into the brassica plot has gone kale, cauliflower, savoy cabbages, turnips, the first batch of over-wintering early sprouting broccoli and Wheeler’s Imperial cabbages, as well as something a bit different in the coned-shape cabbage Tinty.

Tinty is a smaller, purple cabbage which, because it loses coloured when cooked, is perfect for autumn salads.

In the legumes plot, I’ve decided to support our mange tout using broken branches from the surrounding hedgerows – it looks so much better than the normal netting I use, and only time will tell if it works.

Life in the polytunnel has really come on and our tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, with accompanying basil plants, are shooting up.

Last year, in a fit of huge excitement, we planted so many cucumber plants we simply could not get through them all (I still have some pickled in a stem ginger recipe in our fridge).

So we’ve learnt our lesson this time round and decided that less is more – however, with around 70 pepper plants of various types in the tunnel and greenhouse there could be a lot of pepper sauces being made in the kitchens this year!

Maybe we’ve not learnt a thing…..

Moving on, and this is where I blow our own trumpet – the Cider House Kitchen has been named in Sussex Life’s top 10 restaurants in Chichester.

I’d like to think it’s all down to the home-grown radishes used in the salads, or the wonderful display of roses, pelargoniums and chrysanthemums that line the car park, but in truth I suggest it is down to the hard work and genius of the chefs and the staff. Well done you.

Finally, fruit, and here we have a mixed bag – and it serves to remind us that not everything is the potager garden is a roaring success.

Yes – the strawberries are turning red, and yes, the rhubarb and other soft fruits are finding their legs to become established and starting fruiting.

However, our raspberries are failing. They prefer a soil that holds some moisture and in full sun, and I’ve even remembered my training and ensured they were planted running north to south to make most use of the sun.

Unfortunately I have a feeling that the soil is holding too much water – and so the drainage in that area will have to be worked on for a second time.

It just goes to show that not everything works – I’ve sown seeds that, in the past, have germinated almost immediately, yet this time round simply refuse.

But I don’t take it to heart because Mother Nature can be a fickle mistress, and at the end of the day, there will still be plenty for you gentle folk to enjoy when you take your seat in the hotel or Cider House restaurant.

PS: Mabel, our black cat, has just come in looking like a drowned rat.