…Over the rainbow


Wet spell has not stopped the gardening

Despite the mixed weather (we’re squelching around in our wellies with the sun beating down on us as I write) everything is go at the Kitchen Garden. The demand for year-round and early season plants is high and we’re close to cropping the first summer kale, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and chilli.

I’m most excited about the 10 new varieties of tomato we’ve been sent from Love Apple Farm in California. Famous for its heirloom tomatoes, Love Apple is the kitchen garden for the two Michelin-starred Manresa Restaurant and we were really cheeky and asked for some seeds.

Cynthia Sandberg, who owns and runs the farm, sent ten of their personal favourites over to us – the first ones in the UK – and we’re starting to get the first ones through now. We’ve also been putting the finishing touches to the kitchen garden and glasshouse at The Samling Hotel in the Lake District where we’re also working on the herb garden and the water garden. The clean, fresh water here runs off the fells, over the rocks and right through the grounds and it’s ideal for growing wasabi.

We’ve also seen a rise in the number of chefs asking us to produce living cells. The normal process is to grow a single plant per cell and then re-plant these as they get bigger. Some of the guys we’re working with have asked us to grow a cluster in a cell, which we then send out in a punnet so the chef can cut as they please.

So there’s a lot on, including keeping up with demand for the early season and year-round plants like the cresses, small turnips and radishes, while we’re planting the bigger summer varieties.

By the time you read this column I hope we’ll have taken the wellies off too!

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TracyKen and Tracy Holland’s family veg business is renowned nationwide for its heritage and micro varieties. They supply many of the region’s and the UK’s best-known chefs, plus the Tea Room at Vallum and the David Kennedy at Vallum Restaurant. The Vallum Kitchen Garden, poly tunnels and raised beds can be seen from Vallum’s Tea Room and the Restaurant and if you pop by you may be invited to wander through the Kitchen Garden and rub shoulders with chefs who dropped by to pick their own. Ken is also growing director at The Samling Hotel in The Lake District.
Vallum Kitchen Garden, Vallum Farm, Military Road, East Wallhouses, Newcastle, NE18 0LL tel 01434 672 822 Twitter @northcountryken

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