After a productive summer, we always sit down with the Chefs to review all crops grown this year and start planning for next year. Each Head Kitchen Gardener produces a week-by-week plan of their Kitchen Garden for 2024. From here, our central nursery team extract the relevant data and create a gigantic spreadsheet of all our sowings for the next 12 months or so.
At the end of summer and in early autumn, we replace summer vegetables with hardy winter ones to ensure the garden is full year-round. We get garlic and onions in the ground, so they will be ready for harvesting around June and July next year, and we start to sow broad beans, which will be planted out in November.
We also plant salads in our polytunnels – these protective tunnels, with heating and lighting, help to nurture these tender crops. Eventually, they will provide the chefs with a wide range of flavours, textures and colours for their ingredients and garnishes. Another early-autumn trick is to start off our kales and sprouting broccolis in pots, then plant them out when semi-mature. This helps us to maintain high levels of production even in the colder months.
One of my absolute favourite crops, winter squash, can be harvested from early to mid-autumn and left to cure for a few months to enhance the flavour to its full potential. And have you ever tried kalettes? If you haven’t tasted this hybrid of kale and Brussels sprouts, give them a try – especially if you are not a fan of Brussels, as these have a much softer flavour that is not as “sprouty” as its contentious cousin.
During November and December, we will start to harvest more of our root crops, such as celeriac, parsnip, Jerusalem artichoke and crosne (aka Chinese artichoke) – all of which our chefs can incorporate into hearty winter dishes.
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