Darsham Nurseries Cafe, potager, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed, harvesting vegetables,
The Daily Dibber

Kitchen gardener for the Darsham Nurseries Cafe. Seedaholic. Grower and lover of food and flowers.

The Greater Good

I’ve been thinking.

On a sweltering hot day in July my boss suddenly announced a strategic change to the planting scheme of the Potager. The four large beds in the centre would be no longer planted with vegetables, but solely planted with the perennials that we at Darsham favour.

I freely admit to a draining of facial colour, and an internal rising panic. Someone had to stand up for the rights of the would be vegetables. A heated discussion ensued.
“What about crop rotation? “.”That’s 32 square metres of growing space allocated for food!”. “It won’t work, those large beds are crucial to the planting scheme” I argued, red faced with shock. “The decision has been made” he said. I walked away quietly chuntering, fuming. It was never mentioned again. A small personal victory perhaps, but at what cost?

Now on the cusp of 2017 I am reflecting on the bigger picture.

The potager has evolved, our collective knowledge has increased. There is now a large vertical growing space (The Arches). Growing food for a chef to create a plate of food for the paying public is complex.

It’s not a farm. It’s not an allotment. Profit is important. Space is limited. Having a growing space that is open to the public complicates matters. We are not just a café but a plant nursery too. Showcasing mature healthy plants should also always be a goal.

So, if we grow less food, how would that work exactly?

Ideally growing should be focused on vegetables that give a reliable supply over a long period with the minimum of labour and costs. Consideration needs to be given to the ‘days to maturity’ for each crop so that the reduced space is more productive.

Gluts however are invaluable. The Darsham pickles and preserves made during the summer months add a unique layer to the winter dishes. To add to the complex balance, there are also some seasonal crops that picked fresh are the desired ingredient of any good chef. We have a small allotment available, this could still be used for slow growing crops. A final factor is the actual cost of purchasing some ingredients from other sources.

These are the vegetables that upon reflection (in my opinion) fit the bill.

Salad – mixed varieties including different rockets, lamb’s lettuce.

Greens – Kale, Chard, Spigarello.

Beans – Broad, French.

Radishes

Courgettes, Summer Squash, and Pumpkins.

Tomatoes

Peppers & chillies

Artichokes

Cucumbers

Spring Onions

Radicchio

Peas

Leeks (allotment)

Agretti

Jerusalem artichokes (allotment)

Potatoes (allotment)

Cauliflowers (grown inside the polytunnel in the winter months only)

Garlic (allotment)

Sadly, no longer viable

Strawberries

Aubergines

Celery

Kohl Rabi

Onions

Sprouts or Kalettes

Watermelons

Beetroot

Turnips

We could use this new approach to create height, something that can only currently be achieved with climbing beans or artichokes. Lone blocks of one colour for a real impact would be interesting to try for a change. I have always wanted to be disciplined and create a border/space that concentrated on shades of the same colour. I can hear the inevitable disagreements already. Hurry up Spring.

limegarden@sky.com • 31st December 2016


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