Every season in the Kitchen Garden is distinct, and while the late winter weather can be a little cold and occasionally miserable, excitement is building as we look forward to the year ahead.
Most of the seeds have been ordered and I’ve been planning when and where they will be planted. Looking at the map of the garden with all the spaces filled with various vegetable names is comforting as, right now, most of the garden is empty and bare. We do have some Autumn-sown broad beans and onions up, the forerunners of the season ahead and carrots, radish and winter salads have just been sown in hope of a few early crops. Cauliflower, cabbage, leeks and tomatoes have been started in our greenhouse where they can benefit from a little heat and get a head start.
Much of the soil has been covered to warm it up over the next few weeks ready for sowing to start in earnest when Spring has truly sprung. We have also been busy chitting our potatoes to give them a little encouragement ready for when they begin to go into the ground. This is means allowing the potatoes to start sprouting shoots by standing them, often in egg boxes, in a light, frost-free place (like our tool shed).
As well as newly planted vegetables we have welcomed a few new volunteers into the Kitchen Garden and we are happy to see them take ‘root’ in our team. Volunteers are such an important part of what we do here at Chiswick House and Gardens and I’m glad to have so many enthusiastic and helpful people working with me. One big winter job has been to replace the path edging in the vegetable plot for a more durable material. After a few brain aches and lots of sore backs the task is almost complete and is looking very neat and tidy.
Another new addition is the Chiswick House Bug Hotel. It is yet to receive a grand opening (from Lord Bugington), but hopefully there are already plenty of residents enjoying their winter accommodation!
Most of the fruit pruning has been done with only a few last apples and pears to finish, but the clock is ticking. Soon the garden will be bursting with new life and an explosion of growth. We will renew pleasantries with our old foes the weeds, but we’ll have plenty of harvesting to cheer us as another season rapidly replaces this one.