In the garden news
As June begins, the production of the kitchen garden really becomes exceptional. Delicacies such as asparagus and sea kale will soon be off the menu as their season ends but they are quickly replaced by other beautiful ingredients such as bulb fennel, broad beans, courgettes and baby vegetables. But the most wonderful thing about this season has to be the soft fruit, and this year we have started harvesting some of the most beautiful strawberries we have ever grown.
The first variety to fruit is Sonata, which we started picking on the first of June. This is soon followed by the varieties Symphony and Century and then finally Royson and Florence, giving us a season lasting about six weeks.
A strawberry bed is only economically productive for three years, so we plant a new one every autumn and rotate the beds around the kitchen garden. Plenty of organic matter should be worked in before planting and it is very important that the bed is located in a position to get the maximum amount of sun for fruit ripening. As the fruit begins to develop in the Spring we mulch the plants with straw. Modern production tends to use a fabric called mypex but we like to stick to this traditional method. This helps to control the weeds, but most importantly it keeps the fruit clean. If the fruit is allowed to develop on the soil it can result in an unpleasant gritty fruit.
A six-week strawberry season is relatively short. There are several things we can do to extend this, but to produce fruit when it is only at its best keeps the crop special. As soon as the strawberry season finishes then there is another beautiful ingredient to be harvested and this is one of the beauties of a seasonal menu; only to use ingredients when they are at their absolute best and always to have the next delicacy to look forward to around the corner.