Regular readers may remember reading about our renovations in the Kitchen Garden earlier this year, the hoops and nets are really successful at keeping the chickens/cats/pigeons/foxes/etc. off our raised beds and we’ve been extra organised and fitted a polytunnel over one of the raised beds to extend the growing season.
Some say that crops start a whole month earlier and can extend another month at the end of the season. I’ve been very good at watering inside the tunnel (which lifts up on a hinge) and am pleased to see these strong broad beans plants thriving in the warmth after being sown as seeds just 9 weeks ago.
Another plant that’s doing well is the purple mange tout, we sowed these seed in a propagator in the conservatory at the end of January and, as they were growing quite tall and thin, brought them outside to harden off in the polytunnel. They are still in pots as they will grow too tall for the tunnel, but are obviously happy as they’ve started to flower. I’ll have to move them to their permanent position soon, where I can plant them in the ground, they can grow as tall as they like and where their flowers can be found easily by the bees who are happy to pollinate them. We chose the purple variety as it helps the pea pods stand out clearly against the green foliage ensuring that you spot each one as they become ready to harvest.
We have a couple of other crops in the tunnel which have over-wintered well; some leaf chicory and some spinach. The leaf chicory, pictured, is quite bitter and I haven’t found a favourite way to eat it yet, any suggestions are very welcome, however, the spinach is earmarked for a Spanakopita Greek pie that will also include our homemade feta cheese and hen’s eggs. We are recording all of the food that we harvest from the garden this year and have already collected over £200 worth of eggs, now that some of our crops are nearly ready to harvest, I’m looking forward to planning many menus to make the most of their freshly picked taste.
One of the talks that we did at the Country Living Spring Fair last month was A Fruitful Garden in the City which was based on a New Year blog post that I wrote back in 2014. From the list of top tip suggestions when planning your plot, I recommended the faithful rewards of perennials that feed us year upon year. Here at Hen Corner we have a good steady supply of rhubarb, artichokes, hardy herbs and horseradish, not to mention all our fruit, nuts and olives, which offer up a harvest every year with minimum work from us. The first crop, and our absolute favourite, is asparagus and, once established, a bed can feed a family every week from April to June. I’ve been peering at the plot every couple of days recently and am delighted to say that the season has begun! We should be cutting fresh spears by the weekend, perfect for dipping in a home made hollandaise sauce… I can’t wait.
Now that Spring is well under way, we have regular courses, events, schools and corporate bookings here at Hen Corner. We currently have spaces on Cheese in a Day, Simply Sausages, Bread: Sweet & Savoury and Family Feathers and Fun! Our new season of Full Day Bee Keeping starts soon, so if you’ve been thinking about trying something new, do get in quick!
- Two of the new chickens, Coucou & Persil, have started laying, so we are now regularly collecting 12 eggs a day
- The bees are flying most days and are bringing in brightly coloured pollen
- Bookings are coming in for our Simply Sausages course next month
Jobs for this week:
- Meet some teachers who hope to establish a smallholding at their London school
- Try a new recipe for Sourdough Rye and Raisin Bread
- Prepare the garden for our first Spoon Carving Course
Join us on the Journey!