Walled Garden Diaries: The Growing Harvest

June has been a really rewarding and busy month. The garden is looking fantastic, the beds are full, plants are growing rapidly, and our harvests are getting bigger and bigger. And I even managed to squeeze a holiday in.

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The beds looking full

In one regard it’s been an up and down month, with unpredictable weather ranging from dry to long spells of rain followed by an absolute heatwave. We prayed for rain, got far more than we bargained for, then end the month desperately watering and sweating.

In June the planting continued as any available space got filled up. The winter squashes and pumpkins all went in, and the brussel sprouts were planted. It might be baking hot outside as I write this, but I’ve got the Christmas sprouts in the ground. Also swedes and the next succession of salad leaves were planted, while there were more direct sowings of beetroot and spring onion.

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Sprouts are planted

Overall it means that everything we’re growing is now in, with the exception of some beets as I plan to have ones growing that’ll be transplanted to replace ones harvested.

Harvesting is now taking a lot more time and it is so satisfying to start reaping the rewards, there is nothing better than freshly picked fruit or veg. Seriously though, is harvesting not one of the most enjoyable tasks? Now we are picking broad beans, kale, rainbow chard, rhubarb, artichoke and beetroot along with the mass of lettuce coming out of the polytunnel.

Our tomato and cucumber plants are rocketing and, while there’s lots of fruit on the former but no ripening yet, the cucumbers are producing a real bounty already. We are getting a rich picking of cucumbers almost daily. There is also a selection of fresh herbs to harvest, such as basil, mint, dill, sage and lovage.

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A cracking beetroot

I had the first test dig of our potatoes and was delighted with the results from the ‘bambino’ we are growing. It means we’ll start harvesting the earlies from now on, with redcurrants also ready to go, set to be followed by blackcurrants and chuckleberries. Really I don’t think it’ll be too long till we have ripe tomatoes in the tunnel too.

As much of our produce as possible goes to the on-site kitchen, who use them in a range of dishes that visitors can enjoy. And we stock the stall in the Walled Garden on a daily basis and visitors relish taking home produce (for a small donation).

Veg can fly off that stall, especially on weekends, and it is great to see people so happy and eager to take some home. Luckily people have been full of praise for the Walled Garden and we’ve got lots of compliments on how it’s looking.

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Redcurrant

We are also able to now put more and more bunches of cut flowers on the stall, as the plants are starting to really produce their blooms and will continue to do so as the summer goes on. There should be so much more cut flowers available this year both for displays in the house and for visitors to take home.

And the edible flowers are romping, so as well as sending viola, borage, calendula and nasturtium flowers to the kitchen as part of our salad mix, we are having to get inventive. I tried selling cups of edible flowers, which luckily garnered a positive response from visitors, albeit with some raised eyebrows.

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Edible flower cup trial

It’s just going to ramp up as more and more harvesting is required. As usual the juggling act of managing the produce while there’s a wealth of other jobs to do around the garden causes headaches. Fortunately harvesting is a job many of our volunteers absolutely relish (like I do) and I can trust them to pick and stock the stall daily.

And the weeding doesn’t stop. So if there’s any free moment it’s a case of grabbing a hoe and attacking an area to ensure the Walled Garden is as weed-free as possible – which feels a never-ending and impossible task. Another thing I try to encourage that is both good for aesthetics and beneficial to the plants is to remove detritus and rotting leaves off a plant as you are there harvesting.

I feel I have maybe gone crazy and produced an essay here, but I hope people do find these monthly ramblings interesting. If you do enjoy them, or have any questions, then feel free to comment. Or follow me on platforms like Instagram or Twitter and ask my anything about the goings-on in the garden.

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