There’s a lot of abuzz Pippin Hill this time of the year. Even though the world as we knew it came to a complete halt two months ago, the gardens at Pippin Hill continued to grow and our bees and hens continued to play an integral role at Pippin Hill. While we have missed welcoming guests to the property (and are so excited to reopen on Friday, May 22nd), our Certified Horticulturist Diane Burns and Garden Assistant, Celina Debrito have been busy tending to our hens, bees and crops in the kitchen gardens.
Did you know our kitchen garden is pivotal to our culinary philosophy and provides Chef Ian with fresh, local ingredients year-round? Diane has even shared her tips for three-season gardening! In January and February, they utilize cell packs under grow lights and heat mats to start early spring crops such as leeks, head lettuce, kohlrabi and pak choi. Toward the end of February through mid-march, they then transition to direct sowing of beet, carrot, radish, turnip, kale, spinach and pea seeds. This prepares us for the spring season, so when COVID-19 hit our area in mid-March, our gardens were in full swing!
As crops matured and it became time to harvest, they hosted employee harvest days for our Pippin Hill colleagues to take the fresh produce home. Chef Ian was also able to utilize the fresh produce for our takeout menus at both Pippin Hill and sister restaurant Red Pump Kitchen on the Downtown Mall.
As we prepare to reopen this Friday, Diane and Celina are busy harvesting asparagus, mix lettuces, red mustard, arugula and other greens for the new menu. Herbs like rosemary, oregano, cilantro, parsley and chives are also harvested on a daily basis to enhance Chef Ian’s dishes! Pro-Tip: Make sure to try our new salad with fresh greens from the garden!
Celina has also been busy tending to our wildflower meadow which not only supplies us with fresh (and beautiful) table arrangements but it also provides nectar and pollen for our bees. In addition to our cut flower classics like ‘cut and come again’ zinnias, cosmos, Shasta daisies, ageratum and dahlias, you will also now find clarkia, bupleurum, ‘’Kiwi Blue’ cerinthe, ‘Black Knight’ scabosia, ‘Fire Chief’ celosia, ‘Purple Majesty’ ornamental millet, and black tip wheat grass throughout our cut flower gardens.
Luckily for our bees, our apiary is next to our flourishing wildflower meadow so the sweet sipping supply is endless! Lately, the bees have loved foraging nectar from our Black Locust trees which are in full bloom in April and May. Our Tulip Poplar trees as well as the alliums, poppies, salvia & yarrow are beginning to bloom and will be another excellent source of nectar for the bees. We are looking forward to our first honey harvest by the end of June and cannot wait until the honey can be used to sweeten Chef Ian’s tasting menu!
Next time you’re at Pippin Hill be sure to pay a visit to our wildflower garden, our chickens (who have been busy free-ranging) and our apiary (just don’t get too close to the fence)! The apiary is right by our chicken coop and both play a pivotal role in our sustainability initiative. “Re-establishing these honeybees is vital for plants, flowers, and all of us. Establishing this apiary is about Pippin Hill being a good steward of the land as it provides a complete culinary and wine experience for our guests,” shares Diane.
Diane and Celina “are looking forward to the return of our regular Pippin Hill guests as well as new folks on the scene. Please feel free to come up and ask us questions if you see us out and about tending to the gardens.”