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February- May is known as the hungry gap however it has been a hive of activity in the Flourish garden these past few months. This period in spring describes the time when overwintering crops e.g. cabbages, leeks and parsnips are finishing and early summer crops sown in spring are not yet ready to harvest. Growing perennial crops e.g. Asparagus, Rhubarb which already have a mature root system allowing them to grow as soon as the right environmental conditions arise, enables us to harvest at the time of year when there is a short supply of produce.
Although there isn’t much ready to eat, we have been taking advantage of the slightly cooler weather and regularly harvesting a mixture of salad leaves, lettuces, radishes, sorrel and spinach, before they bolt as well as kale (Cavolo nero), rhubarb, forced rhubarb, asparagus (which we harvest for 8 weeks and then leave to rest so as not to weaken the plant) we recently harvested our first batch of baby carrots and have picked a few punnets of strawberries from plants grown in pots in the greenhouse to get a head start. We made our first batch of jam of the year ‘Rhubarb and Ginger’ which will be on sale at our Garden Open Day (Sunday 2nd July). Our produce is currently being sold at the Bournemouth Food Assembly, the Lytchett Minster School Food Assembly and The Salt Pig Deli in Wareham.
As the weather starts to warm up weeds tend to grow very quickly this means we are hard at work trying to keep on top of the weeds and removing them whilst they are small rather than when they have grow into a jungle. We are doing successional sowing of salad leaves, lettuces and roots e.g. carrots, radishes, beetroots, to ensure a prolonged crop throughout the season. Luckily we have some very handy volunteers who have completed construction of our growing cages, now we can plant out our veggies safe in the knowledge that they will survive our adventurous rabbits and birds; that’s the theory anyway! We have also been improving our rainwater harvesting system utilising lots of drainpipes.
We have also been busy this month transferring plants which were started from seed in the greenhouse to their final positions outside, these include a variety of brassicas ( kale, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Sprouts) Leeks, Salads, Runner Beans and Sweet Peas which we will be growing together to encourage pollinators. We also tried growing peas in guttering for the first time with great success allowing for very speedy planting! We will also be planting out our flowers to create waves of cut flower patches.
One of our projects this year is to create an outdoor kitchen area where we can prepare, cook and eat together enjoying the produce we have grown. We have already created an outdoor cob oven with help from JP Morgan which we will use to make fresh pizzas, we also have some upcycled pallet worktops, a variety of new growing beds and we are transforming what was a garage into a workshop kitchen area.
As we enter into June this is when the garden really starts to come alive bursting with colour, tasty delights and wildlife. We’re excited, are you?