Summer Garden Update
We have passed the point of midsummer for 2019, and the flowers in our garden at the Mill have blossomed quite late in the season this year, which means we are currently enjoying a particularly beautiful July garden. Having some rain followed by warmth has been quite good for the plants, and the reward for the wet weather we were experiencing has been a riot of colours and petals. The scent of roses has been particularly noticeable, from the wild rose bush by the sluice gates which drifts across the river, to our cultivated roses, growing in clumps, which we will be distilling into oil and rosewater later this summer. They are largely old varieties, which are not so good for cutting, but which are quite robust. The Kazanlik roses smell particularly rich, with bright pink blossoms.
From our flowers to the herb garden, Emily recently completed a big day of cutting and drying of herbs, which will go to the local Mr Tea’s Teas, and the Ruskin Mill apothecary. We are keeping a little back to make our own blends, for the team to enjoy. Currently growing; we have lots of mints, calendula, camomile, lemon balm, lemon verbena, mugwort, skullcap, wood betony, vervain, and ignatia. Emily is also growing a bed of oats, to harvest in the form of “oat straw” – a herb that is meant to be beneficial to aiding sleep. Some rather delicious borage has also crept into this patch, which is perfect for serving in summer salads and drinks.
The rhubarb and gooseberries have both had a reasonable harvest this year, and while the strawberries took a bit of a battering in the rain and went mouldy or fell off, they have since been fighting back. Debbie has started harvesting the early onions and drying them out near our wood-fired oven, and we have finished the harvest this year now for the kale, curly kale, cavolo nero and leeks. We are also currently harvesting the elephant garlic, which is a large but mild garlic, mild enough to slice raw into salads or dishes for a delicious but more subtle garlicky flavour.
Our ongoing “conversation” with the deer continues, who has developed an unfortunate taste for fresh peas it would appear. We have been frantically harvesting the broad beans, and in a more protected environment, the greenhouse has been housing a beautiful selection of tomatoes. This includes green zebra, yellow submarine and San Marzano varieties. On the culinary herb front, we have a variety of basils, including lemon, red, sweet, and Thai basils. The parsley, dill and coriander are all thriving, and we have just completed a second sowing. On the more unusual vegetable front, we are growing asparagus peas, which have a triangular shaped pod and taste of asparagus. We’re also growing soya beans, and cucumelons.
The orchard isn’t promising such a rich harvest of apples and pears as we collected last year, but summer is not over yet, and there is still time for them to thrive! We pressed most of our apples into juice and cider last autumn (and learned a few lessons about fermentation and bottling the hard way!). There have also been no cherries this year, compared with last years beautiful baskets of red berries, and it rather looks like the squirrels might have got to them…
Lastly, our edible flowers have been blossoming beautifully, including nasturtium, heartsease, cornflower, calendula and borage. These we put into summer salads, where they can be enjoyed at their most fresh. Whilst they do make beautiful cake decorations, once picked, they need to be eaten quickly to keep them looking their finest.
Next time we see you here it will be time for the misty autumn update, but we’ve got a good few weeks of sunny summer produce to enjoy first! Xx