From the kitchen Garden

garden at Tudor Farmhouse Hotel. Clearwell, Forest of Dean

It’s great to see Jeanie, our resident gardener, working her magic in the kitchen garden again this year. All her hard work gives the team in the kitchen the opportunity to add an extra touch of magic to the dishes, especially with the introduction of a few more interesting and unusual fruit and veg. From the exotic, lesser known garden gems, to the everyday classics, there’s nothing better than cooking, plating up and serving fresh as a daisy home grown produce, that’s been dug up that day.

Here’s what Jeanie had to say…

This year we’re focusing on a few more exotic varieties that are both difficult to source and expensive to buy. All our crops are grown from straight from seed and raised in the greenhouse before planting out in the kitchen garden.

This year’s crops include:

Kohlrabi – a vegetable somewhere between a turnip and water chestnut that has a mild sweet flavour.

Patty pan squash – also known as the custard squash, it has a similar taste to courgette but looks a little like a yellow pumpkin.

Tatsoi – other names include spoon mustard. It has a soft creamy texture and similar taste to bok choi.

Pineberry strawberries – white with a hint of pineapple taste, these are the oldest type of strawberry.

Cucamelon – these grape like fruits look like tiny watermelons but have a tangy cucumber taste.

Inca berries – commonly known as physalis, is a ‘superfood’ that looks a bit like a cherry tomato and has a similar taste to a gooseberry.

Alongside these we’re also growing baby salad leaves, courgettes, aubergines, plenty of pea varieties, beans and baby carrots. Plus to add a splash of colour to the veg patch and Martin’s dishes we’re growing a range of edible flowers, such as blue and white borage, calendula, nasturtium and viola – perfect for plating up that summer dish.

At present the courgettes are in full flower in the greenhouse, with the first fruit beginning to appear. The aubergines have started to pick up speed after a slow start and our squashes and cucumbers are beginning to flourish. It’s also been great to experiment with a few different varieties of the vegetables we grow, introducing golden, white and candy striped beetroots as well as purple, green and yellow dwarf and climbing beans.

With the weather now warmer focus is moving from the greenhouse and cold frames to the raised beds. The kohlrabi (purple and white varieties) will be planted out at the end of May and the ground will soon be warm enough to sow seeds directly into the soil so we’re looking forward to sowing the kale, chard, sugar snap peas, beetroots, Jerusalem artichoke tubers and dwarf French . I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of veg patch featuring on the menus over the coming months.