Vicky Moffitt of Vallum Farm on Hadrian’s Wall, shares the trials and tribulations of the Kitchen Garden which supplies produce to the farm’s tea room, restaurant tipi, wedding and events venue.
Vallum, Military Road, Newcastle, NE18 0LL, tel 01434 672 652, www.vallumfarm.co.uk
What a month – glorious sun and tropical rain. The floods and collapsing gutters didn’t feel like paradise island, mind, and the farmers have had a tough year.
Our brides have been stoic, and the parties have been mammoth… whatever the weather!
Mark is building more raised beds down at the poly tunnels in readiness for what we hope will be a plethora of vegetables next year. The currant bushes have fruited well, the beetroot went a bomb in the poly tunnel (thank you, Ivan) and there are young apple trees lined up like soldiers down there with little baby apples on them. Roll on 2020 – we’re excited to see what’s around the corner.
Our yarden took a battering in a recent storm – the baby shoots were smashed all over the paving stones as the wind blew the ‘greenhouse’ over and the thyme has given up and died due to too much water and no hole in the bottom of the tub (you live and learn!). The Alpine strawberries were a doddle this year though, the chillis have been awesome, and the mint, parsley and rosemary are going strong.
It is very difficult to strike the balance of wanting to grow your own and giving the plants the attention they need. It’s like having another child needing attention. I have sat at my desk and seen that the thyme is dying and known why, but still failed to find a screwdriver and punch a few holes in its metal tin. Yet I don’t like feeling like I have single-handedly murdered a perfectly healthy specimen!
I can hold my hands up and say I find summer hard. Children off school + the busiest time of year at work = inadvertently murdering innocent plants. But it’s also amazing. This is the first year I have loved surviving the summer holidays. I managed a couple of weeks off (Cornwall and Corfu), Phoebe helped with setting up tables for weddings and she is now old enough to take our pet Shetland pony Delilah out for a walk round our little lake at Vallum with her cousin Anna. Delilah loved the attention and the apples, carrots and clover.
2020 is a busy year for the wedding Industry in general, so here’s hoping for better weather for gardens and more help from the little ’uns.