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How summer treated our Contini Kitchen Garden

21 September 2016

The summer season was so successful for us in the Kitchen Garden that we have changed our strategy slightly with what we are growing so the future looks a little different..  

It’s interesting how information you are given early on in a journey gets stored somewhere in the memory banks and it pops up again to use at the most opportune moments.  

When we first bought our house, the grounds extended to over 2.5 acres so we made the decision (not on the fact that it hadn’t been lived in for over two years…or that that there were 36 rotten joists…and the windows hadn’t been maintained for at least 10 years) to start our own kitchen garden.

The only evidence that the garden had ever been used for cultivation was a slight reference to some fruit beds in an old drawing and a pear tree at the gate.

Here we are six years later and the main produce that is flourishing is our fruit. The rhubarb bed is a gold mine! The gooseberries were gorgeous and abundant and the redcurrants and blackcurrants kept us busy for hours and hours trying to harvest them. My back almost gave in on the first occasion but it was so addictive finding so much fruit I bore the pain with pleasure.  The blueberries were blooming wonderful and the perfect height for Arianna, my 10 year old, to pick.

The raspberries were equally generous but took longer to harvest so neither Victor nor I were drawn to them and I have to admit the birds probably got more of these than our lovely customers did.

So we wanted to make a slight change of plan going forward.  

The top two beds we are going to plan far more fruit. The top right-hand bed will be have heritage apples to supplement the 46 trees we already have in the garden and this will be underplanted with more blueberries. The left-hand bed we’re going for damsons and plums.  

Now the polytunnel has served us well with salad leaves and herbs over the summer and we will have a good selection to support us over the winter too, but to keep the fruit theme going we’ve decided to start growing grapes! Not any old kind of grapes but grapes hand-selected by my brother in Italy from our village in I’ciacca where we get our amazing extra virgin olive oil and honey from and which we use at Ristorante. More details to follow about this but our mini vineyard will soon be a very exciting addition to the polytunnel.

To help with the propagation, and to encourage all those busy bees, we’ve planted 120 lavender plants which are decorated with artichokes. For a little bit of pretty, and I do love a little bit of pretty – we’ve bought 12 iceberg climbing rose bushes to add that wow factor so not only will the garden smell beautiful, and do it’s job, it will look beautiful too. I am really quite excited. We don’t have one single rose anywhere in the garden so this is a big treat for me!

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Carina x.