Spring is our favourite time of year. Buds, flowers, fruit blossom and the promise of good things to come. In the garden, Eliza and her team have been busier than ever. Read on to find out why.
Hello, fellow gardeners and fresh food appreciators!
We are pleased to announce that we are significantly scaling up our flower and vegetable growing this year by cultivating two and a half acres of our land opposite the hotel as well as a small plot in the orchard to grow more salad leaf and flowers. The aim? For the hotel to be as close to self-sufficient as possible in the vegetable department from June until November and to grow enough to start a vegetable basket scheme for both guests and locals to take home.
The gardening team, from left to right: Head Gardener Eliza, Amy, Dan, Jen and Philippa
Our freshly grown produce
Over the past couple of months we’ve been planting potatoes, onions, garlic, broad beans, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, turnips, beetroot, leeks, chard and radishes, as well as early peas (the trick with peas is to get them started early so you can harvest before the weather turns really warm) and tomatoes. This year we've chosen nine different heirloom varieties of tomatoes and are looking forward to a wonderful array of colours and flavours come summer. We’ll also be growing lots of tasty salad leaves and lettuce, carrots, kales, a huge array of squash, pumpkins, courgettes, cucumbers, French beans and edamame beans, cabbages, corn on the cobs, all sorts of herbs as well as lots of lovely soft fruit.
Vegetable Basket Scheme
We are very excited to announce that we are launching our first ever vegetable basket scheme this June. Hotel guests will be able to order a basket of fresh garden produce to take home at the end of their stay and local residents will be able to join our weekly vegetable basket scheme, collecting their weekly basket of fresh produce from the Potting Shed Shop in the Walled Garden.
The baskets will contain a variety of newly grown vegetables, salad, fruit and herbs as well as a bunch of flowers - all grown here at Woolley Grange. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!
In our first year the basket scheme will be limited to 50 baskets a week, with the view to increasing this in coming years. We'll release details of how to join the scheme shortly, so watch this space!
A bigger, better garden shop
We currently have a small honesty shop in the Walled Garden. This is going to be renovated and opened as a bigger and better shop selling our garden produce, eggs, apple juice, honey and home-made jams and chutneys from the kitchen.
Please note that both the shop and the basket scheme will be open to the general public. The weekly basket scheme customers will pay a preferential rate to the Potting Shed Shop for their basket produce.
Helping the environment
We are not using any pesticides and are growing in a sustainable way to increase the soil fertility.
We are doing everything we can to encourage wildlife, including sowing large swathes of wildflowers around the vegetables. We are also adopting a ’no-dig’ approach to all the areas under production. This means we will be adding huge amounts of mulch to suppress weeds and improve the fertility of the soil. For mulching we will be making our own Woolley compost as well as using spent hops from Steam Box Brewery, compost made from the council garden waste road-side collections, recycled newspaper and cardboard and well-rotted cow manure from a local farmer.
We are passionate about keeping our waste to an absolute minimum and our policy with the shop and the basket scheme is to use only essential packaging, and that this packaging is 100% compostable. Where we have to use plastic (for the mixed salad pack and leafy green bags) we will be using a starch-based clear bag that can go in a domestic compost heap.
We look forward to welcoming you into the gardens at Woolley Grange and really hope that you enjoy your time here as much as we do!
Meet the gardener and afternoon tea
If you would like a personal guided tour of the garden and to find out more about what we are up to, why not book onto our Meet the Gardener & Afternoon Tea event on the afternoon of Thursday 3rd May.
I look forward to welcoming you!
Eliza Reid, Head Gardener.
Woolley Grange is a member of the National Gardens Scheme.