Christmas dinner should always be a feast and here at Gravetye I am sure that George will make it amazing. Here in the garden we have tried to help him by having as much of a variety of vegetables available to him as possible. Many winter vegetables are planted in the height of summer and will grow vigorously until the autumn when active growth will decline and they will ‘stand’ just waiting to be harvested. Although sown a little early this year (a mistake compounded by the very warm spring) we have managed to ensure a great harvest for Christmas.
The brassicas are the staple of winter crops and we have red and green curly kale, cavelo nero, purple sprouting broccoli, red cabbage and of course brussels sprouts all holding well in the ground. Leeks, celeriac, swede and parsnips are all ready to be dug as are the ever reliable Jerusalem artichokes. Lifted in the autumn we have squash storing well in the potting shed right next to chicory which we are forcing under hessian sacks.
The best veg are the ones under protection. In the poly tunnel we have a good crop of baby turnip and some radish, which will be ready early in the New Year. Due to an unfortunate rabbit problem, the winter herbs and a spring fennel planting haven’t fared so well. In the peach house however we have some amazing baby fennel, sown in the last week of august and these will be perfect for Christmas. Also holding on stoically in the peach house are the last of our chillies which we will harvest before they get frosted as the peach house is opened up in the New Year.
Hopefully with this variety and the skills of the guys in the kitchen, every Christmas guest at the manor will enjoy the feast of fresh garden grown vegetables.
Words and photographs by Helena
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