Give Your Garden a Veg Boost

By Ro

Our ethos at Nicholsons has a key environmental and sustainability focus. Our Yurt restaurant places a particular emphasis on celebrating the seasons, using locally sourced ingredients to create our range of innovative dishes.

‘Local’ produce could not be fresher than when it is grown and harvested from your own garden.  During the Covid-19 lockdown, many more people with extra time available to spend outdoors began to experiment in their own plots, sowing seeds and nurturing these miniature plants through to a bountiful harvest.  They are discovering that gardening can promote both physical and mental health, with the satisfaction of tilling the land to produce delicious food for the table, whilst at the same time connecting with the natural world.

Give Your Garden a Veg Boost

Autumn may be fast approaching, but there are still many weeks before the colder weather takes its hold, so enjoy the September sunshine and plant out those crops which relish the cooler temperatures, to be harvested either by Christmas or early in the spring.  Growth rates will gradually decline, but as long as these plants have developed a root system, they will withstand wind, rain and even snow.

The flavour of some root vegetables, such as parsnips, is enhanced by ground frost, concentrating the sweetness of the roots as the starch is converted into sugars.  Seedlings of red cabbage if planted now, can be enjoyed on Christmas Day!  So now is not the time to put your feet up, even though that roaring log fire may be beckoning you indoors to curl up with a good book.

If you are still harvesting your summer cabbages, one of our favourite family recipes is to cut a cabbage neatly into quarters, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes to bring out the full flavour, providing an easy side dish to accompany your Sunday roast.

If you have bare soil left from harvesting summer crops, protect it from winter erosion by planting winter tares or green manures, such as Phacelia tanacetifolia, which is a nitrogen-fixing legume that can build up your soils organic matter, improving the health of the crops that follow after it has been dug into the soil. The flowers are also a great source of nectar for those bees still on the wing, stocking up their food source before retiring for their winter dormancy.

Give Your Garden a Veg Boost

Companion Planting has been practised for centuries and is a natural way of growing complimentary plants side by side – one plant helps another in the way it grows, maintaining strength and health and deterring pests from munching through your precious harvests.  Flowers such as Nasturtiums will quickly cover the ground to suppress weeds and can be planted as sacrificial plants, in particular attracting black fly, which might otherwise be feasting on your broad beans.  Marigolds have a very strong fragrance which will protect tomatoes from being attacked – French marigolds, Tagetes patula and Mexican marigolds, Tagetes erecta and minuta are the best to plant.  In addition, compounds found in Marigolds can assist in destroying harmful nematodes, plant parasites that live in the soil, rendering plants deformed and inferior in quality.

Other combinations which have proved successful in our own garden are:

  • Cabbages alongside beetroot, lettuce and onions
  • Sage planted among cabbages will help protect against cabbage moth
  • Leeks and carrots will protect each other from carrot fly and leek moth
Give Your Garden a Veg Boost
Give Your Garden a Veg Boost

The French are masters of the art of Potager style planting – growing vegetables amongst flowers in borders and with a little guidance, we too can become experts in this area of gardening.  Think of the towering architecture of the Globe Artichoke, Cynara scolymus, with its stunning purple thistle-like flowerheads and imagine it as the perennial centrepiece of your vegetable or flower garden – however, on the other hand, it might be too tempting to eat those leaves with melting garlic butter, rather than leave them to flower!

It is not only vegetables that we are celebrating this summer; herbs such as thyme and mint are demonstrating themselves as good at deterring wasps, alongside their well-known sensory uses. Basil has been a key feature in our kitchen this summer, paired with tomatoes and mozzarella, the flavours are perfect in transporting you to Italy from your back garden!

We have particularly enjoyed high yields from our vegetable plots this summer and would love to hear your success stories too.

PLEASE NOTE: Our current vegetable and herb offering is our final stock, so plan a visit soon to stock up on some unusual varieties and seek advice from our experts on crop pairing and rotation.