The end of April is a busy time in our kitchen gardens, as it is when our big changeover happens. We swap the last of the overwintered crops with our new summer produce. At this point we are pulling out the only winter crops which are left: leeks, chards, kales and sprouting broccolis, the majority of which we planted during early autumn or late summer last year. One year we had too many kale leaves to use them all as garnish so Dan, our head chef at THE PIG-at Combe, suggested tempura. This crunchy, earthy and sweet dish, served with chilli mayo, is a real crowd-pleaser.
We are also harvesting our earthy winter salads which we planted in January in our polytunnels, as well as fresh radishes, winter lettuces and broad bean leaves which we sewed earlier this year. Polytunnels are our secret weapon. They protect what you're growing from the elements and predators; we are particularly grateful for them during harsh winters. People think polytunnels are only for serious allotment growers, but you can get small ones that won't take over your back garden. Maximise the space by using a double-decker system with shelves and hanging baskets. Vine tomatoes do especially well and you'd be amazed how many you can pack in!
Amongst the goodies that we're harvesting now are beetroot, chard, lettuce and carrots and we have a plethora of fabulous recipes that will turn these veggies into mouthwatering dishes. Earlier this year, we spent a lot of time working on planting higher value crops such as tomatoes including our favourites Sungold tomatoes, sweet peppers such as Hamik peppers and the highly sought after Agretti. These three veggies are always welcome by our chefs as they individually contribute such subtle and delicious flavours to dishes.
We love our chillies at THE PIG and at THE PIG-near Bath even have a Chilli House where we have been growing our chillies since earlier this year ready for spring and summer. Why not try growing your own chillies at home with a chilli plug plant. You could then give our tomato and chilli jam a go -it’s a sweet and sticky jam that goes with all sorts!