Thursday, 24 May 2012

Castle Garden Spring 2012

pear blossom
It has been a very eventful Spring in the Castle Garden, started with a hot weather, then news of droughts then very very wet weather for several weeks which washed out some tadpoles out of our pond and more than doubled our snail population!! (and ate many of my seedlings, I wasn't happy, and I won't tell you what I did with them when I caught them in the act). We still battled on in between the wet days and built 4 new raised beds, with sleepers to act as benches at the end of them. Barry carried about 7 of them across the garden on his shoulder (I'm sure they weigh about 100kg). However he did afterwards take a rest on one of the sleepers to test it out.
our pond's  first tadpoles
our pond
strong barry
barefoot gardening
We started to record our harvests this year, and up until end of April, we harvested about 75 kg of produce for the cafe kitchen. We have been self sufficient on green leaf salads, chard and rhubarb so far. Since March, Jack, one of our cooks has been harvesting 2-3kg of rhubarb each week and making crumbles and cakes. We've been forcing rhubarb again, and they come out this beautiful bright pink and yellow colour. Shame the leaves are poisonous!

This year we have Nick regularly working in the garden to create more herb gardens and supply the cafe and kitchen with herbs for teas and culinary herbs for the cooked dishes. He started tea club on Thursdays for anyone who wants to help him and learn. The cafe has been supplied with fresh herbs since the start of Spring, and now he's also busy drying herbs for our winter supply.

Over winter we made some balms with the beeswax made from our hives and other hackney hives, and with herbs from our garden. They sold really well in the Castle shop! We made "extreme lips" and "outdoor hands" with calendula, plantain and comfrey from our garden. All with properties that do wonders for state climbers hands get in!

Jack harvesting rhubarb
rhubarb on menu every week in Spring!

Nick harvesting herbs for the cafe
Caste selling fresh herb teas from our garden; mint, fennel, and lemon balm

 Coming up next in the garden.... Our bees swarmed and this time we will have our top bar hive and warre hive put into place for them to demonstrate natural beekeeping. Plus in July we will be building our cob oven ready for the garden party. Look out later this summer for pizzas!