No more digging

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 weddings and events, and Restaurant Pine. Vallum, Military Road, Newcastle, NE18 0LL, tel 01434 672 652,

Well, it’s a fristy frosty March morning today and the sun is bright, the skies are blue and white puffy clouds are hanging in the air, so it couldn’t be more perfect. 

 The vegetable garden is getting so much attention since Restaurant Pine arrived here.  They have the bit between their teeth and are forging ahead for spring. The team are over the moon with their Michelin star, and not only did they receive a coveted red star for their food and wine, but also a green star which is largely down to growing their own produce and how they look after their land.

 They have a composter for their waste, bees for honey and are now taking on a fantastic approach to gardening called the no-dig method. I’ve been following Sash in the Garden on Instagram (I think I borrowed her pony for pony club games many years ago) and that has opened a worm hole of gardening inspo including Charles Dowding’s no dig genius. Look him up!

Pine have called in the team from Wilde Farm in Ponteland to help with the garden and if you look up @restaurantpine on Instagram you can learn all about it. If you’re not up on no-dig, essentially you lay down cardboard and cover it with base soil and compacted compost. It’s good for soil structure, for worms, and generally protects the soil ecosystem, as well as removing the need to dig, which makes it a winner for me. Apparently it also means fewer weeds, so happy days all round.

 The guys (and the seven-year-old helper who popped in on a teacher training day) have been busy planting the first seeds of the year along with their root stock from last year.  There are two polytunnels at Vallum and they offer lots more scope for early crops. Some of the old rotted raised beds are being taken down to make way for more ground beds, and the team will be ‘hot bedding’ too, to help bring seeds on faster.  

My garden is still a bomb site but I did hear on Radio 4 that you shouldn’t tidy just yet as lots of insects are staying warm under the leaves and debris, which is all the excuse I need. So yes, it’s all go in the garden here, and well done to the Pine team. Roll on more sunny days and garden produce!

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