The garden in Splatt Mill brings us fruits and vegetables all year around, keeping my family happily fed and healthy. It is a constant work, but well worth the effort. Having a nice country kitchen with views to the garden is just a perfect setting for all the cooking. My favourite part of the house!
After a mild winter in Somerset, the first spring harvest comes around in the beginning of April with the arrival of the asparagus, poking through the tired looking soil. Time for the quintessential British strawberries and cream! Raspberries start to produce their fruit in spring and continue to do so till the first frost in late October.
In this season lots of different coloured Swiss chard and radish also make it to the table from the garden. Favourite of the season is still the wild garlic, perfect for a focaccia after a hard day's work in the garden.
Busiest season at Splatt Mill. The garden is in full bloom, and the vegetable patch is giving us constant flow of the best quality produce. It is a very satisfying feeling to cook your lunch or dinner directly from your own garden, or picking your fresh raspberries and black currants for your breakfast pancake or waffle. These are the things we have always just dreamed of before.
Globe artichokes standing in the garden like aliens from "The Day of the Triffids"; just the perfect companion to a lazy weekend afternoon lunch with hollandaise sauce.
The arrival of the first bok choy always makes my Taiwanese-born-lived-in-Greater-China-girls extremely happy; served on top of a strong broth filled with udon noodles and other goodies. What a great treat on a chilli summer evening!
Summer also the time to think ahead for winter and all those months, when we all want is a well stocked larder. Pickled shallots, blackcurrants jelly, wild strawberries jam, runner bean chutney, rhubarb and ginger jam and even sour cherry vodka. All sorts of fermented, traditionally pickled or miso pickled vegetables.
The simple brown onions we grow in Splatt Mill is one of the sweetest onions I have ever tasted, it is such a pleasure to cook with them! The elephant garlics not just a great addition to the vegetable variety, but they look stunning for weeks before they completely mature and ready for the harvest.
Okra and french beans! While the beans are doing perfectly in the vegetable patch and the yield is fantastic, okra needs to be kept warm and safe in the green house. The plant is very happy there in large pots, and from June onwards the pods are shooting up and once it is ready and harvested, a new pod is growing in its place, and keeps on giving all summer long.
Refreshing summer salads of tarragon and cucamelons, and perfect garnish to any summer dinner is the the young sweet purple snow peas. Fried, breaded delicate courgette flowers stuffed with light ricotta cheese are one of the nicest treat. Purple shiso (Japanese basil) is a newcomer in Splatt Mil; my family enjoys it as a perfect complement to chirashizushi or as a homemade furkikake.
Using the natural setting of Splatt Mill with sparkling water from the streams running off the Quantock hills, combined with the mild climate of Somerset, this place provides the perfect environment to grow wasabi plants. Loving the shade provided by the giant leaves of the gunnera plants growing at the streams edge, and after spending the winter in the greenhouse to protect from frosts. the wasabi enjoys the whole summer in the running waters and gravel of the mill stream.
With the arrival of autumn, work doesn't slow down in the garden; the long autumn season brings all different kinds of apple & crab apple, pear, fragrant quince, walnut, plum, beetroot and even brambles and tomatillos to us. Apples seems to be in endless supply, but the yearly apple pressing helps is a great fun where the village community gets together!
My personal favourite; pepper sauce, made at Splatt Mill, inspired by the Caribbean islands, sweet, sour and definitely has a great kick to it from a variety of chilli peppers such as Zimbabwe black, the indistinguishable coco pod look-a-like chocolate habañero, Trinidad moruga scorpion and scotch bonnet; best selection of the world hottest chillies. Over the years I have tried a number of varieties, introducing beetroot, wasabi leafs, crab apples and other produce from the garden. Not for the faint hearted!
Before the winter sets in it is time to harvest more! Butternut squash, beautiful crown prince pumpkins, cavolo nero and the refreshingly bitter radicchio.
Waiting for the first frost to bite the sloe berries and sea buckthorn berries and preparing sloe gin, is one of the highlights of the mild winters in Somerset and a perfect complement to the holiday season.
After two years growing, the horseradish also makes it to the table, while the vegetable patch is full of brassicas enduring the winter months.