It’s great to see Jeanie, our resident gardener, working her magic in the kitchen garden this year. All her hard work gives me the opportunity to add an extra touch of magic to my dishes, especially with the introduction of a few more interesting and unusual fruit and veg. With ingredients now available to me that are as fresh as a stroll down to the veg patch, I can create some seriously tasty dishes that are seasonally spot on and exceedingly low on food miles. From the exotic, lesser known garden gems, to the everyday classics, there’s nothing better than cooking, plating up and serving fresh as a daisy home grown produce, that’s been dug up that day.
Here’s what Jeanie had to say…
After building the raised beds last year so we could produce more of our own fruit and veg, this year we’re focusing on a few more exotic varieties that are both difficult to source and expensive to buy. All our crops are grown from straight from seed and raised in the greenhouse before planting out in the kitchen garden.
This year’s crops include:
Kohlrabi – a vegetable somewhere between a turnip and water chestnut that has a mild sweet flavour.
Patty pan squash – also known as the custard squash, it has a similar taste to courgette but looks a little like a yellow pumpkin.
Tatsoi – other names include spoon mustard. It has a soft creamy texture and similar taste to bok choi.
Pineberry strawberries – white with a hint of pineapple taste, these are the oldest type of strawberry.
Cucamelon – these grape like fruits look like tiny watermelons but have a tangy cucumber taste.
Inca berries – commonly known as physalis, is a ‘superfood’ that looks a bit like a cherry tomato and has a similar taste to a gooseberry.
Alongside these we’re also growing baby salad leaves, courgettes, aubergines, plenty of pea varieties, beans and baby carrots. Plus to add a splash of colour to the veg patch and Martin’s dishes we’re growing a range of edible flowers, such as blue and white borage, calendula, nasturtium and viola – perfect for plating up that summer dish.
At present the courgettes are in full flower in the greenhouse, with the first fruit beginning to appear. The aubergines have started to pick up speed after a slow start and our squashes and cucumbers are beginning to flourish. It’s also been great to experiment with a few different varieties of the vegetables we grow, introducing golden, white and candy striped beetroots as well as purple, green and yellow dwarf and climbing beans.
With the weather now warmer focus is moving from the greenhouse to the raised beds. The kohlrabi (purple and white varieties) planted out at the end of May are now ready to pick and the beans are beginning to look quite sturdy.
The ground is now warm enough to sow seeds directly into the soil and so the kale, chard, sugar snap peas, beetroots, Jerusalem artichoke tubers and dwarf French beans are in and already showing small signs of life. The kitchen has already made use of some of the tatsoi and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of veg patch featuring on the menus over the coming months.