Secrets from the Garden

At the very top of the Kitchen Garden is an area planted and cared for by a local Dales girl, Anna Burton.

Anna has always loved the outdoors and being creative, so she decided to study horticulture after school and has been hooked ever since!

We wanted to find out more about Anna and what to expect from the produce being grown this season, so we caught up with her over a mug of fresh mint tea in the garden.

Did you always have a strong interest in gardening? And was it something you always wanted to do?

I’ve always thrived on being outside and being active. My direction was always art and design; eventually I realised I wanted to channel that into garden design. My love for it comes from my grandparents, who were keen gardeners. I think there’s something nostalgic about making jams and liqueurs from home grown produce like they used to.

Tell us your daily routine in the garden.

Our jobs can range from weeding and pruning, planting and harvesting to digging beds, grass cutting and much more! There’s always something to do in the gardens. No two days are the same, especially as it all depends on the weather and nature is so unpredictable, but I suppose that’s what keeps it interesting. We usually end the day head to toe in cuts, bruises and covered in mud but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Head Gardner Andrew, has replanted the Kitchen Garden, he has told us that you’re in change of the vegetable garden, what have you enjoyed most?

Without a doubt there’s nothing more exciting than seeing the first sign of a seedling popping up through the compost. Oh, and tucking into some of the goodies the chefs have created with the baskets of goodness we deliver to them each morning!

What’s the most unusual vegetable you’re growing now?

The artichokes are quite aesthetically unusual, and we have a plant called ‘Salad Burnett’, the leaves taste like cucumber. At the moment we’re setting up the Polytunnel, so we can become and little more experimental and exotic.

Three tips to growing vegetables?

Good ground preparation- Adding nutrients to the soil via manure and digging that in well.

Crop rotation- Rotating what we grow in each bed stops the soil getting over depleted.

Successional sowing- We replenish a lot of crops by sowing new seeds every three weeks.

We had a very white winter and super sunny spring and summer, how has the affected the produce?

I read somewhere that due to the extreme weather it has been a particularly good year for butterflies; this is amazing, except it means lots of hungry caterpillars are eating our Brassicas!

Are there any gardening methods you’ve introduced to make the garden more sustainable?

Sustainability is such an important part of my role here in the garden. On such a big estate there is a lot of garden waste and we utilise this the best we can. We compost materials and use this to enrich the soil. We avoid the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides and protect our crops with natural methods such as netting and hand weeding.

Tell us more about your role with FORGE?

The interaction between garden and kitchen adds another creative aspect to the job that I really enjoy. It’s so rewarding to see the whole process; from seed to plate and I can’t wait to see what Gareth produces. It’s been amazing to grow new produce and work together to make interesting dishes for the restaurant. The more things we can grow that end up on the menu the better.

Which is your favourite vegetable, and which is your favourite way to eat it?

My absolute favourite is beetroot, it’s easy to grow, it keeps for a very long time and it’s so versatile to cook with. My favourite has to be beetroot and goats cheese tart or a good old beetroot sarnie. Gareth’s Goat Cheese and Beetroot salad at the Coach House will always be my go-to dish.

What’s your favourite part of being a gardener?

I’m constantly discovering new things, it’s a feast for the senses. I’m always seeing, smelling and eating new things or discovering an insect that I’ve never seen before. It’s like being a child again!

And when you’re not gardening what are you normally doing?

Rock climbing. Swimming. Eating. Napping. Laughing. Chatting! Not always in that order!

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