Last weekend we saw the first bit of sun for over a month. The dining room swelled in the heat as we placed electric fans at every strategic point and offered our guests paper fans to help the cooling. With the windows wide open a gentle breeze passes through as the late summer evening winds on in a brilliant blue sky and the dining room never feels more suited to its purpose.
On the farm certain plants are basking in this much anticipated heat whilst others are crying out for water.
In The Poly Tunnel
The sweetcorn stands so tall and strong and the first signs of its fruit slowly appear from between the dark green foliage.
The broad beans shoot to the sky reminding us of the fairy tale. We took a last harvest and then took the plants up. The beans are served in a nettle custard at the beginning of the menu but for our crop outside we have other plans.
The ‘crystal lemon’ cucumbers are exploding out of their pots now, as well as the ‘experimental cukes’ from Stone Barns. They take place around the perimeter of the polly tunnel along with a multitude of tomato varieties.
The Peas are bursting from the pods, next week we will take a first harvest, this week we are talking about them in the kitchen. Ideas to pair them with berries from the ‘Cabbage Patch’ or as a salad with curds, maybe as a chilled soup with a buttermilk cracker. Who knows.
On The Cabbage Patch
The gooseberries are coming thick and fast. They make regular appearances on the menu from beginning to end including a sharp and fresh ice. We use the unripened fruits to make a ver jus that is a perfect tool for seasoning with acidity.
Carrots have made their way into the dining room. Young and tender we are thinning the bulky lines so that as the season goes on the carrots will be utilised in their different stages occupying, too, different places in the menu. Right now at the beginning of their growth they appear at the beginning of the evening.
Next week will be the first week for our kohl rabi, paired again with gooseberry and a preservation of elderflower. A dish from last year that we though would be fun to revisit.
The abundance of nasturtium, bronze fennel, balm, verbena, parsley and mint keeps a healthy dose of herbs coming into the kitchen. At this time of year I can’t think of a dish without thinking of an ample hand of herbs adding character and warmth.
Time is always limited on the farm and it is true that you get out what you put in. There are always so many projects that go unvisited and methods that we want to put into place. A few weeks ago we had a guest that had maintained an allotment for over 40 years, since he was 13 years old and not missing one year.
We talked for a long time and he offered many suggestions. It made me realise just what a slow and gentle rhythm gardening can take. It can take a whole year to learn that a certain direction is not the best to take and you can quickly be at square one again. But it is a journey where you can check in, watch whats happening carefully and make adjustments as you go.
We are taking lengths to utilise a no dig system, layering good amounts of healthy compost onto the the beds between planting and saving up all of our cardboard from the restaurant to lay innate the soil for next year. And this feels good, to be going forward with a plan that works for both the waste cardboard from deliveries whilst simultaneously adopting a system to suppress weeds and create mulch through the resting period on parts of the land.