The season of colour in the Kitchen Garden

squashes in the vegetable garden at Knightshayes

Every year, it seems that summer passes by quicker and quicker. After the hive of activity in June and July the garden is finally mellowing in to Autumn. As the nights grow cooler the gardeners finally adjust their pace and the weeds (thankfully) begin to slow their growth. We are always astounded by the abundance of produce at this time of year, particularly the current the huge harvest of runner and French beans over the past month. The seasons genuinely do seem to move faster in a kitchen garden as the continuous rotation of crops dictates our work but Autumn is a rewarding season indeed.

September arrives

As September hits, the potato rows are almost all harvested and we start to keep a keen eye on the jungle-like squash and pumpkin beds. As the vines begin to slump, they reveal jewel-like colours and all the excitement of Halloween to come, where the pumpkins we grow will be used to decorate the house.
At the start of autumn there are many of the treats of late summer such as succulent figs and juicy raspberries, cucumbers continue under cover and tropical treats like Cape Gooseberries give up their fruits. It’s a busy but bounteous harvesting time with onions and garlic drying in our polytunnels, marrows tucked away in the mushroom house and into October, the rooty goodness of celeriac and parsnips start to head over to the Stables café.

Rich pickings

At the start of the season we moved the kitchen garden shop onto the middle terrace and expanded it. This has been a great success with more choice of produce than ever from the morning's pickings. We’ve also sent off bumper batches of soft fruit to be made into preserves for the gift shop and tomatoes, onions and courgettes for this year’s Knightshayes chutney.
With thanks to the creative flair of dedicated volunteer, Elizabeth we’ve also had beautiful hand tied bouquets of fresh flowers on sale for late summer and early autumn. The summer has yielded plenty of flowers for our drying room as well and during the rainy days that will inevitably come, these will be made into colourful posies for sale during the winter.

Tackling the vines

This year we have been working on a project to rejuvenate the small vineyard. Now the vines are fully grown and in fruit, it is nice to see the different neat grass edges and carefully pruned structures make to this corner of the garden. Now, the vines are now much better examples of the late Victorian French ‘Double Guyot’ training method which was in vogue when this magnificent garden was built.

Early autumn is also a time for pruning the pears and apples. As autumn progresses, we start to cut things back and gradually rediscover the more orderly geometric structure of the gardens design under the blousy layers of summer growth. October and November can be a satisfying time of tidying and mulching; an investment towards the productivity of next year. Do pay us a visit to watch the dramatic transformation of the garden across this season as the mists drift in and we enjoy the mellow fruitfulness.