September is Harvest Time; multicoloured fruit and vegetables of all sorts fill the gardens and the glasshouses. Tomatoes continue to ripen on the bare vines, the foliage was removed some weeks ago to allow the Autumn sun to ripen and bring sweetness and flavour to the fruit. Bays are filled with two types of delicious kale; a reminder of the importance of this nutritious crop in our diet with winter only around the corner. A full bay of Romanesco Cauliflower/Broccoli will be ready for harvesting in the weeks ahead, and together with delicious heads of red cabbage; it’s a reminder of a certain festivity not far off on the horizon. Courgettes are still being harvested, as are small cucumbers, potatoes, beans, beetroot, leeks, carrots, red cabbages and celeriac, along with all the wonderful beneficial herbs.
Crate loads of ‘Worcester Pearmain’ and ‘Grenadier’ apple varieties are being picked and being put to good culinary use in the Cookery School or stored in our cool apple store for later months. The remainder of the eaters and cookers will be harvested in October, with some delicious old Irish varieties amongst them.
The Hop plant (Humulus lupulus) growing against the wall of the cottages is laden with cones. The plant produces flowers called 'burrs' which develop into scaly cones, or 'hops'. The dried hop cones are used in brewing to add the bitter flavour, aroma and for preservation.
The gardeners are busy this month clearing and tidying the beds before the winter. In the Herbaceous borders, the annual clearing of these large beds has begun and will continue until Christmas. Perennials are being lifted, divided and moved, to make way for 100’s of bulbs, which will be planted for a Spring display. There is still a fantastic display of colour in these borders, it seems a shame to disturb the spectacular canvas but as Susan Turner, Head Gardner recommends; it makes for easier decision making now as to what plants will be moved where, whilst they are still in bloom. A layer of rich homemade compost will be added to the borders once they are cleared; normally this is carried out in early Spring but by doing it now it will enrich the soil and act as a mulch over the winter months; the bulbs have no excuse not to make a spectacular display next year.
The Kitchen Garden is still packed with vegetables and edible flowers; celeriac, leeks, beans, potatoes, cut n’ come again cabbage (Delaway cabbage), carrots, beetroot, salsify, Jerusalem artichokes are all being harvested. Edible flowers, such as Calendula, Viola tricolour (Johnny Jump-ups), Borage, Hyssop leaves and flowers, seeds from the Nigella (Love in the mist) to name a few, are being enjoyed whether being added to a savoury dish or crystallised for a dessert. . Eileen has started the annual cutting back and clearing here, over the weeks ahead as the beds are cleared, a rough dig will take place and layers of fresh seaweed will be spread over the soil. Green manures, such as clover, are also in use here to prevent soil erosion over the winter. The cardoons in the Herb Garden have been cut back and are being blanched in situ using cardboard.
In the Old Pleasure Garden, the large Medlar tree (Mespilus germanica) is laden with fruit this autumn. The fruit is tart and not to everyone’s taste but they can be used to make pleasantly flavoured jellies, desserts or for wine making. To be eaten raw, it’s best to store the fruit in a cool dark place for at least two to three weeks to allow them to blet.
In the Vegetable Field, the pumpkins have been harvested and brought indoors; there are still plenty organic vegetables here; leeks, winter cabbages, sprouts, carrots, celeriac, broad beans, runner beans, red cabbages and beetroot fill the rows. Outside the door of the glasshouses, the multi-coloured blossoms of the Cosmos make for a spectacular show this year, they appear to be unaffected by the shorter days of Autumn.
In the Glasshouses; the pumpkins indoors too have been harvested; tomatoes continue to be used for salads, soups and sauces. Curly and Nero kale, vines laden with grapes, figs, peppers and delicious baby cucamelons. In the propagation area, modules of a variety of different salads and herbs wait to be planted in the well prepared soil indoors.