As frost and the odd dusting of snow remind us that winter is well and truly here, the warm days of summer seem light years away but our thoughts are already turning to the kitchen garden. 2014 was a great summer for growing, and our gardening team Nathalie and Geoff did a wonderful job supplying us with many of the vegetables, salad, fruit and herbs that feature on our menus.
We like to use fresh, local produce wherever we can and having some space to grow our own fruit and vegetables means we have been able to reduce many of our food miles to something more like food feet. But we all need a rest after a busy season, and plants are no exception. Putting the garden to bed properly means better crops next year, so it’s well worth investing the effort.
As well as having pruned the fruit bushes and trees, tidied the raised beds that hold the salad and vegetables, and sorted out the greenhouse, Geoff and Natalie have been busy helping us to assess what we should grow next year, for instance we are looking at establishing an asparagus bed.
Our raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and blackberries did really well thanks to the warm weather, featuring in many of our tasty fruit crumbles and in Annabel’s special home-made mixed berry jam which our guests can enjoy at breakfast so they will definitely feature in next year's plans.
Artichokes were a fairly new addition and went down well, particularly in a tasty artichoke and spinach soup, and we saw a bumper crop of fresh and crunchy salad ingredients. We had tomatoes coming out of our ears and I swear some of our giant onions and big healthy leeks could have won prizes at the local agricultural shows – maybe next year if one of us has the time?
As the garden yield slows down to mainly root vegetables, we will use what we have in crop and supplement that with produce from our regular supplier Staffords of Hexham, who will provide the rest of what we need.
If you’re a gardener, do enjoy planning out next year’s cropping plans over the Christmas break. And if you’ve got any tips for especially good varieties, do drop us a line and we might give them a try.
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"The Kershaws' cooking is fresh, generous and flavoursome, producing wholesome traditional English fare."
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