September generally marks the end of the summer but we are still enjoying blue skies and sunshine in St Andrews and our gardening team are having one of their busiest months with harvesting. As well as gathering fresh produce on a daily basis, Phil Harper, our head gardener and his team are pruning and tidying and laying plans with the kitchen team for the seasons ahead.
We have been enjoying a bumper crop of onions and garlic over the past few weeks and once carefully harvested they will hang and dry in the sheds until they are ready for the kitchen.
The last of the tomato harvest continues to delight with flavour as superior as the start of the season. By pinching out the tips of the tomato plants the gardening team are ensuring that the plant’s energy goes towards the fruit already on the plant and not into development of more tomatoes and we can hopefully look forward to an extended harvest.
Our early variety potatoes have been enjoyed over the summer and we are just beginning to harvest our main crop. These have been in the ground longer and generally produce larger potatoes that the kitchen team transform. Removing the tops of the potato plants means we can keep them a sensible size.
Pumpkins are basking in the early Autumn sunshine and by removing leaves shadowing the fruit the gardening team can ensure they are ripening in time for Halloween. By raising the pumpkins of the ground it also helps prevent rotting.
Kale is a cabbage type vegetable that doesn’t form a head. As a rule of thumb our gardening team harvest the kale when it’s about the size of a hand and the kitchen team have begun using the kale to accompany a roast fillet of hake on the lunch menu at Seasons Restaurant. As well as tasting delicious it is full of minerals as well as Vitamins A and C.
It doesn’t feel like too long ago since our beetroot was planted but already we are enjoying the first harvest. The sweet beetroot is used in some of our vegan and vegetarian dishes to add flavour and colour.
By lifting the leeks while they are still quite small we can hopefully look forward to a long harvest beginning now through late Winter. They can remain in the ground until needed and make a very tasty, fresh vegetable, either on their own or in soups.
Rhubarb is actually a perennial vegetable and not a fruit! Our rhubarb grows back year after year and our harvest has been full of flavour and sweetness. Paired with ginger in a poached rhubarb and stem ginger dish its tartness along with the depth and spice of the ginger work really well.
Do come and visit the kitchen garden next time you are at Rufflets. It’s an opportunity to see first-hand what we are growing and learn more about some of the fresh produce that makes its way from plot to plate.