Yet again, we have had a lovely mild autumn, resulting in a long and fruitful harvest. Our fruit trees have cropped beautifully, providing ample apple and pears for pies, and an abundance of plums for delicious jams. The runner beans have continued to bear long tasty pods right up until this last week, and the cafe has been full of salads and quiches made from all of our produce.
The flowers have also been magnificent, and our stunning dahlias have been in flower since mid summer. Many of our gardeners love the visual impact of the dahlia, marigolds, and other flowers, and they attract many beneficial insects to the allotments; as well as providing lovely bouquets for the Café.
As the summer crops have been harvested, we have been planting winter vegetables to see us through the colder months: onions, garlic, chard, broad beans, kale and cabbage are all hardy enough to survive the snow and frosts of winter.
The Town Council Gardens have now been tidied ready for the winter when we only visit them once a month. The formal gardens at the Castle and the Moat garden have once again been glorious throughout the summer, providing many a wedding backdrop. At the St Leonards garden, we have done some replanting, putting in shrubs and perennials where there had been gaps in the planting.
Sadly the ilex did not survive the summer. Long periods of dry weather and just a weekly soaking was too much of a shock for the plants. We have started removing them, and this week we will be replanting them with box. Initially we made the decision to plant ilex as box blight had hit many of the stately home gardens across Europe, with devastating effect. We seem to be clear of it now, and so we will plant the sturdier box at the Castle in the hope that it is more resilient to the vagaries of the British weather.
Our Harvest Feast was a lovely celebration of the year, with many of our gardeners friends and families joining members of the community over a warming bowl of soup and homemade bread.
Mudlarks received planning permission to enclose the back of our allotment shed earlier this year, and we have been busy raising funds in order to carry out the work. We are now in a position to start, and hope that by the end of this winter we will have a larger shed to accommodate our ever increasing team of gardeners.
The Mudlarks Café has gone from strength to strength, and we are finally making enough money to cover our costs. Being a charitable café, with the aim of training and employing people with learning difficulties, our staff costs are considerably higher than most cafes. We have a new chef who has been doing our Friday night ‘Night Owls’ as well as Saturday food, and this has made all the difference to our takings.
If you are looking for a Christmas Party Venue, please consider us! Several organisations are continuing to use the café: the Guidepost Trust are holding their ‘mates and dates’ events there, Carers in Herts are holding meetings there, Transition Hertford’s Food Swap is upstairs once a month, and St Andrew’s church are considering holding a ‘pop up church’ there on Sundays.
The next Music Night is the 26th Nov, so do pop in if you are free.
We are very excited about Santa coming to our grotto on the 27th Nov. Our gardeners are designing a wonderful grotto, and again the Savoy Hotel has donated some of their decorations to us!