What did the kitchen gardeners get up to last season?

view of the turret and spring tulips in knightshayes kitchen garden

The team in the Kitchen Garden have been worked hard to avoid what's commonly known as the 'hungry gap' in early spring as well as got on with some planting out. They also moved into another phase of the orchard project and our dedicated volunteers helped with introducing some new information panels around the garden. Find out more about what happened during Spring.


Spring is down to business in the kitchen garden. From the beginning of March we have a packed sowing schedule for the hardier late spring crops to sow such as beetroot, Swiss chard, lettuce and radishes. It also means giving tender summer crops a head start.

seedlings ready to be planted out in Knightshayes kitchen garden

Planting out

Outside we begin planting out with our carefully hardened off broad beans, closely followed by sweet peas and onion sets. We also have the big job of cultivating and ridging up our large potato plot ready for planting, one of the few jobs in the kitchen garden done using a tractor.

Pricking out and potting on the huge collection of heritage tomatoes is also a highlight of the season.
Thanks to our volunteers we just about stay on top of the horticultural roller coaster as spring always seems to hurtle towards summer faster than we think!

Rhubarb, rhubarb...and more rhubarb

Although early spring is traditionally known as the ‘hungry gap’ we are still able to crop a good selection of produce for the Stables café, providing them with kale, pea shoots, edible flowers, lettuce and mixed salad leaves, spinach, chard, radishes and rhubarb.

Our rhubarb is always a big talking point for our visitors as we have a great deal of the stuff. Everyone wonders what on earth we do with it all! However, it is so delicious and popular that we can sometimes struggle to keep up with demand so we have a large stock of plants enabling us to treat each one kindly.

rhubarb growing in the summer in knightshayes kitchen garden

Restoration project continues

Spring always brings fresh starts and we are undertaking an exciting piece of work to rejuvenate our west wall as part of our orchard project. Restoration expert Richard, from Devon Ecobuild, is spending a time throughout Spring cleaning, repairing and re-pointing the wall.

This is to get it ready to install new fruit training wires and a fabulous selection of 11 heritage apple trees. These will be matched  on the other side of the wall by an orchard of Bramley apple trees.
A great example of how the Victorian gardeners maximized their use of vertical as well as horizontal space while keeping the trees ornamental.

worker begining to work on the restoration of the west wall of kitchen garden at Knightshayes

Looking forward

Other new developments include a lovely selection of new information panels around the garden, created with help from dedicated volunteers Lesley and Tony.

We are also gearing up behind the scenes for the very exciting opening of our middle terrace in the coming months. This has never previously been open to the public except for limited access on tours but we are gradually working to open it up and tell more of the story of the Knightshayes kitchen garden. Watch this space!

Want to know what we got up to over the winter? Have a look here.

Gardeners working in the walled garden

The kitchen garden at Knightshayes

This two-and-a-half-acre walled kitchen garden with fairytale turrets is home to a vast collection of crops which are now almost extinct – including 102 varieties of heritage tomatoes.

Visitors in the Walled Garden at Knightshayes

An inspiring walled garden

At Knightshayes even the Kitchen Garden is Gothic. See how our specialist team grow heritage and new varieties of fruit and vegetables for the café and flowers for the house.