By Sarah Nicholl-Carne, garden volunteer
Whilst the Palace and its garden have been closed, the garden team have been working even harder than usual, no doubt missing the help of the fabulous garden volunteers (here, I should declare an interest; I am a fabulous garden volunteer). It is a huge site for head gardener Lucy, Chris and the three apprentices to manage unaided.
They have been doing a lot of work in the walled garden and vinery, growing amazing vegetables and soft fruit. Usually, these are all sold on the barrow and disappear almost as fast as the volunteers can harvest them. With no on-site sales outlet, I have been turning the produce into pickles and jams.
The first crop each year is always rhubarb. First, I made dozens of jars of Rhubarb and ginger compôte, which has been selling well. It makes a great topping for porridge, yoghurt or ice cream. Then, I decided to try making a pickle with the rhubarb, and Dark and spicy rhubarb chutney was born. You can guess what that is like! Next, dozens of cucumbers appeared, almost overnight, in the vinery. As in previous years, these have gone into Snozzcumber pickle.
This was invented in 2015, when a former apprentice, Young Chris, produced a cucumber as big as my arm, but much more knobbly. He declared, ‘I think it’s a snozzcumber’. For those of you who have not read Roald Dahl’s The BFG, a snozzcumber is the main food of the eponymous Big Friendly Giant. It resembles a cucumber but is 9 to 12 feet long, striped with wart-like growths; it is also quite disgusting. Lucy refuses to grow snozzcumbers, so I make do with delicious cucumbers. The pickle is perfect with hard cheese, pork pies, etc.
Now the strawberries are ripening too; they are particularly good this year, so there is a “soft” strawberry jam – not set as much as I would like!
All these reminders of the wonderful walled garden are for sale via click and collect on the Fulham Palace online shop under Barrow products:
They can sustain you until the garden reopens on 29 June!