Long time and regular readers of the the Chartwell Garden Blog might remember a brief post I did waaaaay back in February of this year about horticulture related rock songs. If not, you can have a quick peek at it here. Now, one song I didn’t place in my green-fingered guitar-based list was Harvest Moon by Neil Young. Technically speaking, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. About once every four years, it occurs in October in the northern hemisphere. The latest possible Harvest Moon is on October 11. Here in the Kitchen Garden at Chartwell however, we have been experiencing our own harvest boon recently! Can you see what I did there?!
The last time I wrote a blog about our fruit and veg back in early August it was all very doom and gloom and ‘woe is us’, but I’m pleased to sat that things have well and truly picked up since then! In fact, from mid-August onwards you’d hardly have noticed that we were experiencing such a poor harvest back in July. Due to the warmer soil which was still moist with the Spring and early Summer rain, germination and growth rates were up while instances of pest and disease damage was down. Good news all round!
Some of the success stories recently in terms of quality harvesting include chard, brassicas, beans of all varieties, root crops like Mangle Wurzles, our bountiful pumpkin patch (see above picture) and even edible flowers such as Nasturtiums and Pansies. The soft fruit this year has also been magnificent. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the top fruit such as our apples and pears. So confused are our orchard trees that they’ve even started producing blossom again! They must think that the early part of our great British Summer was in fact Winter and they are now entering Spring again!
Donna and her team of volunteer pickers harvest the Kitchen Garden goodies twice a week and take everything they can up to the restaurant where it is all made into tasty dishes for our many visitors. This hard work is offset by the contribution the restaurant make to our seed purchases at the start of the season and also by the cake-based rewards they send down to the gardeners bothy every now and again! We hope to be picking and harvesting right up until Christmas when the likes of Brussels sprouts, Winter salads, swedes and parsnips should be gracing the festive menus.
Next year we hope that the weather during the early part of the growing season will be much better than it was this year but just in case it isn’t we have a couple of horticultural tricks up our sleeves. We will try and start more of our crops off in the glasshouses and cold frames to try and improve the germination rate if its still a bit chilly. We may also introduce more cloches on the beds themselves where practical. To try and get around the pest and disease outbreak we had this year we will carry out a more regular crop monitoring process on the emerging fruit and veggies and make sure that we net and protect our seedlings that much earlier.
The upshot of the improved weather and growing conditions during the last couple of months means that there is still plenty to see in the soil in our Kitchen Garden and taste in our restaurant the next time you come and pay us a visit here at Chartwell…