We’ve had more than our fair share of rain in St Andrews recently which has meant it’s been a soggy few weeks in the kitchen garden.
We caught up with Head Gardener – Phil Harper to find out what is happening in the garden and what we can expect to see on the menu at Seasons Restaurant in the coming weeks.
While not wildly exciting, it’s a very high priority at the moment for Phil and the gardening team to ensure they stay on top of the general weeding, grass cutting around the grounds and also the flower beds. The cycle of sunshine and showers is causing everything to grow very quickly and it’s important to stay on top of it as much as possible
When the weather is terrible, there is lots to do in the poly tunnels. One of the attractions of growing our own produce at Rufflets is the variety we can choose and working closely with the kitchen team Phil selects ranges that will work best and present a wide variety of tastes. Our home-grown tomatoes are juicy and have tangy flavours that gently develop over summer as they ripen. Under the poly tunnels, the team have been potting-up tomato plants, chillies and peppers. The bronze fennel we grow has already been featured on the menu over the last few weeks in our Fillet of Salmon with roasted Mediterranean vegetables – polenta – and bronze fennel velouté.
The first crop of salad leaves is being harvested and used by the kitchen. Much of our produce has to be replanted several times over the summer months to supply a consistent source and the seedlings are waiting to be put into the raised beds once the current crops are finished. The red vein spinach is an example of one of the items we re-plant several times. Many of our herbs which have been growing in tubs are already being added to dessert plates in the restaurant. Pineapple mint has a hint of pineapple and is perfect for adding to fruit-based desserts or garnishing. It has a very pretty green leaf edged with white. Chocolate mint has a much darker leaf and because of mint’s affinity for chocolate, and the way they pair so well together, the leaf works well with chocolate based desserts.
While some produce is being harvested, elsewhere in the garden other plants are maturing Our greenhouses are the best place to let our tomato plants mature and will hopefully provide us with a crop throughout the summer. In the vegetable plots, crops are still small but we are hoping to have the first of our new potatoes at the beginning of July. In our raised beds, carrots are maturing and we should also be able to harvest the first of the season’s baby carrots in a couple of weeks.
Soft fruits are one of the most pleasing crops that we harvest from the garden, but also one of the most vulnerable from the wildlife and birds that enjoy a juicy nibble. Our soft fruit is carefully protected with soft netting. The strawberries in raised beds are now under nets and on straw to suppress weeds, keep slugs at bay and prevent the heavier fruit from lying on the ground. Our raspberries are showing every sign that they will be ready to pick at the end of July.
Head Gardener - Phil Harper
If you haven’t had an opportunity to explore Rufflets’ kitchen garden yet, do come and say hello to Phil and the team during your next visit.