August has been another wet month with average temperatures lower than normal for this time of year, however the gardens are lush with growth, there is an abundance of produce from the vegetable gardens and the glasshouses. We have a great crop of Tomatoes from the plants sown earlier in the year; having had the best chance for growth and ripening.
Organic vegetables; Onions, courgettes, leeks, aubergines, kale, turnips, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions, swiss chard, salads, red cabbage and beans fill the vegetable gardens and glasshouses, and are all being harvested and enjoyed at the Cookery School or for sale at our shop or Farmer’s markets.
There is wonderful colour throughout the gardens; at the entrance the flowerbeds in the car park are filled with beautiful lavender coloured Hydrangea, Verbena bonariensis, tall blue Agapanthus, Russian sage, Sunflowers, and a sward of beautiful tall grasses.
Summer pruning on the trained fruit trees in the Ornamental Fruit Garden has been carried out, this is the best time to do this job as any sooner in the summer and it causes water shoots to develop. There is one trained apple tree (var. D’arcy Spice), which unfortunately has seen the end of its days, however it will soon be replaced with a new young tree. The apple trees are laden with fruit. The fig tree var. ‘Brown Turkey’ on the wall of the Cookery school is being pruned back hard; its growth and fruit produce has been proflic this year. The peaches have been harvested from the south-facing wall of the Dining room.
Also in this garden we have two Asian or Nashi pear trees, (Pyrus pyrifolia). This is a pear tree species native to China, Japan, and Korea. The fruit texture is crisp and grainy; billiard ball shaped copper coloured fruits have a distinct pear like taste, but with a superior sweet and juicy flavour. Recommended by the RHS to be an excellent attractant and nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects, it is self-sterile so it requires a pollinator (another Asian pear or normal pear).
In the Soft Fruit Area, the gooseberries have been pruned to give an open goblet shape in order to increase ventilation and prevent a build up of disease in the plants. We are harvesting Raspberries and Blueberries from this garden. The grapes are almost ready for picking in the glasshouses, the bunches have been thinned to allow for healthier fruit
We have planted 900 plugs of Curly parsley and Flat Parsley in the Vegetable field, this would normally be grown indoors but the area outside the glasshouses allows for greater number of plants to be grown. The outdoor courgettes are doing well this year. The Pumpkins are increasing in size every day and we should have a good crop for October.
A new crop has been sown called, Black Spanish radish (Raphanus sativus L. var. niger), we have sown the elongated variety called "Black Spanish Long" or "Black Mooli". It has been used for centuries both as food and as medicine; rich in vitamin C, and a number of other health-protecting compounds. When used for culinary purposes, the dull black skin is typically removed, and the white inner flesh is steamed, sautéed, braised, or stir-fried. Black radish can also be eaten raw, in which case it is usually grated or sliced, and added to salads or eaten as a healthy snack. Also the young leaves can be consumed, whether for culinary or health purposes.
In the glasshouses, the most recently planted bay of Tomatoes is a little slower growing than normal for this time of year, and the fruit is slow to turn. We’re missing that constant warm sunshine which ripens and sweetens the fruit. Elsewhere, courgettes, sweet and chilli peppers, aubergines, kale (Cavolo Nero and curly), spring onions, French beans, cape gooseberries, salads and herbs fill the glasshouse bays. Grapes on the vines are almost ready for picking in the glasshouses, the bunches have been thinned to allow for healthier fruit. Our vines for wine making are almost ready for picking too!