As the autumn slowdown continues, I have been thinking about extending the season in the vegetable garden, especially at The Queen at Brandeston where I manage the veg plot at the back of the pub. I’m feeling the need to challenge myself a bit to prove to that I am a real gardener! This will be my first proper attempt at overwintering anything except peas.
To this end, I started sowing seeds again in the greenhouse in September, firstly some mixed salad leaves and beetroot, for the colourful leaves. These I planted out with trepidation but they have survived. A bit slower but also up, pak choi, parsley, spring onion, kale, chicory, rocket, sorrel and a very few winter lettuce. I sowed several rows directly in the still warm soil but not a single one came up. I only get to visit the site once a week so it may be that they got eaten straight away but who knows.
Pak choi and chicory pricked out in the polytunnel at home.
At the pub this warm October afternoon I planted out some of the pak choi and chicory, keeping some in reserve just in case! The kale is for the front in the edible planters. The rest of the seedlings need to be a bit bigger before I risk it although the plan is to cover the lot with fleece if it gets really cold,
I also managed to get in a few rows of broad beans for an early crop next spring. They will probably use the shoots and flowers in the kitchen but the first beans are sweet and tender too. I have plenty of saved seeds from this year’s crop.
Also in the garden over winter will be the salsify, sown in the spring, which will be ready once the leaves die back and sweeter after a couple of frosts.
There is an assortment of brassicas grown from seed in the spring as well. Kale ready now and flowering sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower still to come. Considering that they were completely stripped of leaves by caterpillars in the summer, they have recovered well.
With a good crop of pumpkins and squashes harvested for storing, if they survive halloween, they should be able to offer some really fresh and locally sourced vegetables on the menu.