Sissinghurst Castle Vegetable Garden
The vegetable garden at Sissinghurst Castle was created in 2008 and has been evolving since then into the plot that you see today, but there’s more to it than just a few vegetables.
The early origins of the veg garden were far simpler than what you can see today, the nearly 4 acre field was originally set up with large productive beds, since then there have been many improvements over the years. One of these improvements is the introduction of two polytunnels, these polytunnels mean that our less weather resistant crops have a safe heaven and an opportunity to thrive all year round. In April 2013 a new orchard was planted consisting of 60 trees, this provides us with an abundance of soft fruit each year.
In the winter of 2012 the large beds were pulled apart into smaller 4ft wide beds with narrow paths woven between them. Our veg garden uses a no-dig gardening method, no-dig gardening is the process of layering composts and manures as a mulch on top of the soil rather than digging them in to the soil. The mulch becomes incorporated into the soil by worms and other organisms over time. There are a many number of reasons why using no-dig is beneficial here at Sissinghurst:
- A reduction in the germination of weed seeds due to them not being brought to the surface and therefore exposed to the light.
- An increase in worms and other soil fauna, which in turn aerate the soil.
- The preservation of beneficial fungi and bacteria, such as mycorrhizae, which form a symbiotic relationship with plants and enable them to extract nutrients and water, even in unfavourable soil conditions.
- Less effort of digging the composts/manures into the soil which is much appreciated on our heavy Wealden clay
Most of the vegetables, fruit and herbs that we grow in the vegetable garden are used by our chefs in the kitchen to produce fresh local meals for our visitors. We harvest our produce first thing in the morning to the chefs’ orders and take the short journey of 100 metres to deliver our produce to the kitchens , we’re all about food metres, not miles. Any surplus produce that the kitchen can’t use in their dishes is sold in our plant shop.