What did we get up to last season?

kitchen gardener picking crops in the kitchen garden at KNightshayes

Summer; it was the season when the kitchen garden bursts into life. See what our kitchen gardeners got up to, from tending rare, exotic veg to picking and harvesting aplenty.

Summer is a wonderful time and the walled garden really took off. It's wonderful to see all the tiny seedlings of February and March flourishing in to vigorous plants. These are busy and productive months when it can be hard to remember to appreciate the glorious growing season unfolding around us. However, it’s great when you can take a minute to admire the garden and see it rewarding us with its beauty and a bountiful harvest. We moved into long days of weeding and harvesting. There was lots to pick for the Stables cafe, our shop and the local market. Fresh salads, asparagus, courgettes and and peas, then as the summer progresses a multitude of berries, new potatoes, beans and tomatoes.

The garden is full of new developments amid the burgeoning plant life. This June, we opened our middle terrace to the public for the very first time. This is an exciting opportunity to see this previously off limits area of the garden, as well as more of our work behind the scenes. It's also only the start, as we have big plans for the next couple of years. Be sure to come and see the beginning of some very special developments. As part of this, our west wall is undergoing renovation, thanks to our friendly contractors from Devon Ecobuild who are lovingly repointing the old stone. Feel free to ask them questions about the traditional techniques they use. We are restoring this wall as part of our ongoing orchard project and hope this winter to plant it with trained apple trees of 11 different heritage varieties.

A vivid purple Russian heritage pea at Knightshayes
a heritage sweet pea in bright purple at Knightshayes
A vivid purple Russian heritage pea at Knightshayes

We had exciting new recruits to the garden too, both in the form of some much appreciated, new volunteers and new vegetable varieties that we have not grown before. We found ourselves adopting a ‘Lost crops of the Inca's’ theme this year as gardeners Bev, Sam and Lucy are keen growers of these lesser known edibles.

We even joined the Guild of Oca Breeders and are now taking part in an international breeding program to develop superior varieties of this lesser known tuber crop. Our collection of oca at Knightshayes is doing so well, we are hopeful these colourful gems will feature on the cafe menu this winter.

We had a slightly soggy start to June but the sparkling droplets on the vine leaves when the sun comes back out made up for it. These days, summer always seems to bring variable weather but with most of the tender crops planted out by June, the garden filled fast.

A volunteer at work in the parkland at Knightshayes sawing branches

Volunteer opportunities at Knightshayes in Tiverton

You can get involved at Knightshayes in lots of different ways. There's a range of roles that you can choose from whilst helping us to care for our place. Why not get in touch to find out more.