Chisholme Blog

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Summer Harvest Bonanza
Chisholme Blog | Monday, 15th August, 2016

Our August volunteers reap many rewards


Posted by Eleanor Wray, Chisholme Gardener

This week, six volunteers joined us for the August volunteer week. Every day was jam-packed with the volunteers splitting their time between the kitchen and the garden. John Hill, our garden advisor, came up for the beginning of the week and imparted wise words to the new volunteers. The weather was really good to us at the start of the week, and we were able to spend the first day out in the sunshine harvesting all the berries from the garden that were made into preserves. One night, the blackcurrants we harvested were turned into a coulis that was served with ice-cream and went down a treat!

We helped the outdoor runner beans secure their growth by adding horizontal canes to their supports. Once the runner beans reach these canes, they should hopefully begin to grow along them, creating a canopy of runner beans that I’m sure will look incredible. I can’t wait to be able to delve into the thick mass of sticky leaves, dotted with bright red flowers and the long hanging beans, collecting enough to feed us this winter.

Friday and Saturday were huge days for us, as we all banded together to harvest as much as possible for our first day at the Hawick Saturday Market. We spent the whole morning collecting lettuce, celery, rhubarb, purple gooseberries, runner beans and loads of other tasty things. With help from Aziza our cook, the volunteers tied up and packaged the lettuce and herbs into beautiful bunches, laid out in baskets, ready for the people of Hawick.

We also harvested an entire patch of new potatoes, and a huge number of them had grown so big that one night we had thick, crispy potato wedges with coleslaw made from some of the beautiful kohlrabi that thrived thanks to the warm weather. We also collected the first harvest of peas that became the renowned pea puree served with Saturday’s fish and chips, along with a giant harvest of broad beans.

It’s so incredible to see the tiny seeds we planted in April growing into massive courgette plants that have been feeding us for the past month. Or the broad beans, no bigger than the tip of our thumbs, sprouting into 7-foot-tall plants, each producing a hundred more beans for us to eat. I feel so lucky to have been here to watch them grow, to take care of them for the volunteers and students who helped plant them, and to watch others enjoy them as they are prepared in the kitchen and finally served to the table.

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Hello weeds!
Chisholme Blog | Wednesday, 3rd August, 2016

Our gardener Eleanor Wray reports on a satisfying few days in the organic garden


Posted by Eleanor Wray, Chisholme Gardener

Hi folks,

It’s been another busy few days in the garden. Two new volunteers joined us and we started by building a little woodland for the peas, collecting large twiggy branches from around the estate and setting them into the ground to give support to the peas planted during the April Volunteer Fortnight. Chaffinches and blackbirds are now using them to rest as they explore the garden, catching midges and other tasty bugs, and they can be seen perching on the branches during the day. We also planted in more peas in the empty spaces, and hopefully we’ll see some more coming up by the end of the month.

On Monday, we got to work weeding out the huge onion patch beside the garden hedge, the three of us ploughing through the lines with our hands, pulling out the weeds to give the onions a chance to catch the rain and bask in the sun. After lunch, we were joined by Nissa and Andy, and as Nissa worked away at clearing the weeds around the leeks, Andy proved to be the cog that kept the weeding wheel turning as he ferried our brimming buckets of weeds off to the rubbish pile. As we were weeding, we found that a lot of the onions had been using the dense weeds for support, and they flopped over when the area around them was cleared. With some good weather (and maybe a helping hand from us), they’ll pick themselves up again and there will be some lovely red and white onions for the kitchen come Autumn.

By Tuesday, we were back out on the estate, collecting a huge pile comfrey from behind the Steading. After coffee, we took our secateurs to the rhubarb patch and harvested four plants-worth of rhubarb (and if you’ve seen the rhubarb down in the kitchen garden, you’ll know just how large a harvest that is) We won’t be wanting for rhubarb this winter! Once we had harvested the rhubarb, we clambered into the open greenhouse. The almost-drought a month or so ago (up 24 degrees of relentless sun for 16 days!) triggered the old grape vine that creeps along the back wall to start sprouting. We picked the vine leaves, which will be soaked in brine by the kitchen to be used for dolmas. We also harvested the young yellow and rainbow Swiss chard from the salad bed. After lunch, we covered the chard area with a tarp, and once the weeds have died, the space will be ready for a new crop.

We then laid the comfrey in between the lines of broad beans. Comfrey is extremely fertile, as it has long roots that feed deep into to the soil and draw up nutrients that other plants cannot. This makes it brilliant mulch, and with its wide leaves, it can cover a lot of ground, stopping the weeds coming back up. It can also be piled up in a compost bin or barrel and left to decompose, where it will turn into a liquid fertilizer that is perfect for young plants. The comfrey mulch also helped define the broad bean lines, and supports were placed along the lines in the form of bamboo canes and thick, straight branches, strung up with twine. After tea we weeded out the rest of the greenhouse, and then we all set to work weeding out the last few lines of onions by the stone path.

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Huge thanks to our volunteers and helpers for a very satisfying few days.

If you would like to join us in the garden next month and learn new skills in a fabulous setting, please get in touch.

info@chisholme.org
+44 (0)1450 880 215
Or see our Volunteer page

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The Red Sail
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The Twenty-Nine Pages
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