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Vegetables and flowers on the menu

 
It’s such a pleasure to walk through the gardens in July, they are both pretty and bountiful. As you walk through the wooden gate of the Kitchen Garden, you are met with a spectacle of colour: the red flowers of the runner beans together with the bright yellow flowers of the courgettes and the iridescent yellow flowers of the pot Marigolds (Calendula officinales), all a sweet reminder that we are now in the height of summer. These flowers together with the multicoloured little Violas and French Marigolds are edible. 
 
In the midst of the array of colour, this vegetable garden is filled with wonderful produce; broad beans, French beans, runner beans, courgettes, beetroot, carrots, potatoes, onions, leeks, florence fennel, spinach, chard, globe artichokes and sweet corn are all being enjoyed in the Cookery School. 
 
Over in the Ornamental Fruit Garden, plums and peaches are ripening and beneath the canopy of fruit trees, the black currants and red currants are being harvested. Old Apple tree varieties such as Ergremont Russet, D’Arcy Spice, Irish Peach and McIntosh Red are all laden with fruit.
 
In the soft fruit area, blackcurrants, delicious red currants and the first of the Autumn raspberries are being harvested. 
 

The Glasshouses

 
The Slow Food Long Table Dinner takes place this month, it’s held in the glasshouses. One hundred people will sit to dinner at the one table under the canopy of glass, surrounded by vegetables, fruit trees and colourful flowers. A perfect combination! 
 
Many different varieties of tomatoes are being harvested; the trusses are full, so all foliage has been removed on the plants allowing full sunlight to ripen the fruit on these long summer days. A new bay of tomatoes has been planted, a crop for later in the year! 
 
Peppers (Sweet and chilli) and aubergines along with cucumbers, courgettes and sweet corn continue to be harvested. The climbing French beans are prolific and yielding a good crop this year. 
 
A new crop this year; Chickpeas! They are so easy to grow and have provided a wonderful harvest of little pods containing one or two sweet and nutty ‘peas’! 
 
One bay of winter squashes has been planted, (varieties such as: Futsu and Potimarron) whilst young pumpkin plants are being hardened off for planting outside this month. 
 
 
 
Root crops sown in accordance with moon planting method
 
In the ‘stale bed’ area of the vegetable field, root crops have been sown; (carrots, beetroot and spring onions) in accordance with the moon phase in the middle of July. The tides are highest at new and full moon and with moisture rising, that’s when it’s best to plant everything that produces its crop underground, e.g. root crops, potatoes, etc. The aim is to optimise yield, flavour and quality. 
 
 

No-Dig Area

 
The vegetables (lettuce, spring onions, leeks etc) in the no-dig area continue to do well, despite this continuously dry summer. Moisture is retained by the soil due to the addition of humus (it can hold the equivalent of 80 – 90 percent its own weight in moisture, increasing the soils capacity to withstand drought). The humus also provides over 25 minerals and nutrients together with microbes, such as bacteria and fungi all necessary to create the biodiversity required for essential healthy growth and to protect against pests and diseases.
 

The Wild Flower Meadow 

 
A large panel structure with a door has been built, just as you leave the wild flower meadow to enter the vegetable field; it’s adorned with an enormous painting of a butterfly. It’s a focal point and draws the eye and the mind to ponder, what is beyond?
 
The ‘living’ Dragon in the wild flower meadow is being groomed; the Celtic Maze too is receiving its summer cut!