Doing a shift with Craig and Will in the gardens at River Cottage is a thing I've wanted to do for a while now and three months in I've finally got round to doing it! The gardens are a massively important aspect of the whole River Cottage deal, in the summer we're about 40% self sufficient as a result of the garden. They're also home to an absolute wealth of knowledge and an incredible array of edible plants. This is awesome for a few reasons, the food we make in the kitchen will be better as a result of the differences in individual fruits and vegetables, because different varieties of, for example tomatoes are better for different dishes (small, juicy tomatoes might be better as part of a salad or panzenella, yet larger purpley ones may be more effective for roasting with garlic, thyme and olive oil). However it's also great because I think that River Cottage should be an international centre for sharing and showcasing our ethos, and the knowledge and passion of Craig and Will is perfectly suited to this.
The task for the day was improving the allotments up by the polytunnel, this is a long term project for more growing space, however to convert the sites to effective ground much work needs to be done, for half the day I raked over, compressed and raked over again two of the allotments and then for the second day I helped Will in double digging another of the allotments to get rid of all the flint. This was physically very hard work, yet also extremely satisfying, especially being outside in the fresh air. I'm really looking forward to tasting stuff from them next year.
Also this week I thought I should mention that I made a hideously horrendous mistake! I was helping out Gill with a 1 day cook school in the barn doing individual weigh ups of an orange and polenta cake for 20 people and instead of the sugar in the recipe I accidentally used a cure mix (for curing hams: 50% salt, 50% sugar), oh deary me, salty cake is not good. I'm not looking forward to the 'hilarious' banter which I'm expecting next week.