Winter has arrived in the kitchen garden

Frost on a bush in the kitchen garden at Knightshayes

It's that time again. Winter in the Knightshayes walled garden always seems an age away until it suddenly creeps up on us. One minute you're harvesting pumpkins and then before you know it, the last of the mulching is done and the growing season draws to a close. That’s not to say our work is done; in fact winter is the ideal time for doing all the things that the frenetic pace of the growing season does not allow for. 

It's that time again.

Winter in the Knightshayes walled garden always seems an age away until it suddenly creeps up on us. One minute you're harvesting pumpkins and then before you know it, the last of the mulching is done and the growing season draws to a close. That’s not to say our work is done; in fact winter is the ideal time for doing all the things that the frenetic pace of the growing season does not allow for. 


Business as usual

We have pruning to do, planning for the crop rotation and sowing schedules for next year; work on restoration including the middle terrace and orchard projects and lots of seasonal treats to look forward to. We are still harvesting the last of the seasonal produce for the cafe's delicious carveries, even as we are planting out next year’s garlic and onion crop. There is the excitement of pawing over catalogues and putting together our annual seed order with new veg varieties to try. Not forgetting the broad beans and sweet peas to sow which lifts our spirits in the short days of December and January. And before spring has a chance to hit, we will already be starting off our tomatoes, chillies and aubergines in the early days of February.  

Oca success

This winter we are particularly looking forward to receiving our lovely new heritage apple tree varieties from the National Trust's plant conservation centre. These will be given homes along and just outside the west wall of the garden as part of our orchard restoration. We are also thrilled at finding out the results of our oca breeding trial. Kitchen gardeners Bev, Sam and Lucy are members of the Guild of Oca breeders and have been taking part for the first time in an international effort to breed day neutral oca. The hope is that this kind of oca will cope better and be more productive in the UK climate. These tasty colourful tubers are an investment in our food futures. Digging up the tubers to weigh, measure and best of all taste-test will be a fascinating treat.

Lots of surprises.

The 2016 growing season has thrown some challenges at us as always; early spring growth, unruly vines, cold snaps, some damp summer months and a lot of marigolds that came up yellow when we were expecting cream! However, we have had so many glorious autumn days, some celeriac to be seriously proud of, a bumper pumpkin harvest, our hedges look better than ever and we've enjoyed six months of cropping beautiful heritage tomatoes. So we'll be raising a glass over the festive season, to each other, to our wonderful volunteers but most of all...to the garden! We look forward to seeing you in 2017 for another year of beauty and bounty.