Over the last 18 months life has changed in many ways and there have definitely been some positive changes to lifestyle as a result of more time spent at home.
One of the unexpected positives has been an increasing trend to grow our own food, not just the preserve of those with large gardens, but a new found hobby that is filling window boxes, patios, tiny gardens, big gardens and allotment shares across the country.
Whatever the reason, many more of us are now growing our own. There is something very special about growing your own food and then it finding it’s way to your dining table, you know exactly how far it has travelled and importantly what has been put on it.
Our kitchen garden has been a feature at Whatley for many years and our greenhouses are filled with produce each year. Over the last two years as our commitment to operating sustainably has evolved in an effort to reduce our food miles our planting program has increased.
Chef Niall Keating works with our garden team to plan the planting scheme to maximise the produce that can be used across our menus. Seasonal produce grown only steps away from the kitchen doors is just about the best result you can achieve in reducing food miles.
The plan is to increase production year on year, our new orchard, planted in 2020 will one day supply plums, apples and pears in abundance. Careful crop rotations will keep an interesting supply of seasonal produce all year round to supplement the kitchen wherever it can.
Favourite summer crops include, lettuce, green beans and peas, tomatoes from the green house and an abundance of herbs. Moving into autumn winter there will be a crop of squash, potatoes, cabbage and kale.
We recently introduced our own wormery to ensure our soil is healthy without adding anything natural. The worms drag dead leaves and plants underground, munch on them, and then recycle their nutrients back into the soil, as the worms burrow through the soil they mix it up, creating tunnels which allow air to pass through and water to drain away. All of this helps to create a rich, fertile soil for growing vegetables.
The Whatley Kitchen Garden is readily accessible to guests, have a stroll around it during your visit and if it inspires you to start growing your own our garden team will be only too happy to share some tips.