Answers from Ollie Hutson, Group Head Kitchen Gardener for THE PIG
Tell us a bit about you and your green journey, how did you get into sustainability?
Having spent most of my childhood growing up in the New Forest, playing and making dens in the woods, I was a keen fan of repurposing from a young age. Fast forward to my college years, where I studied Countryside Management and the unit which I found most inspiring was ecology and conservation.
When starting my career, I actively incorporated these shared interests into my work and garden design. Prioritising the creation of habitat for beneficial insects and animals, always thinking twice before throwing anything away, and constantly being challenged in thinking of new uses for old things.
We’re now in spring – what’s in season and what should we be planting?
Spring is a super exciting time of year in the Kitchen Garden. It is right at the end of the hungry gap, meaning that we are finishing the last of our overwintered vegetables, such as, brassicas, chards, and leeks, whilst also starting to harvest the first of our early sowings from this year.
You can sow and plant a vast range of vegetables, some of my favourites to deal with during spring are the cucurbit (courgette, cucumbers, squash, and cucamelons) and legume (French and runner beans, and peas). As well as planting or potting up all our Solanaceae (tomato and pepper) plants that have been sown over the last few months.
What would you avoid planting and why?
Plants without a purpose! I am an absolute purist and love to grow plants that are edible or medicinal. I can’t imagine anything worse than pouring your love into something all year only for it to end up on the compost!
What’s your all time favourite thing to plant and why?
It depends on the time of year to be honest, and it’s difficult to single out one thing, as I am fascinated by propagation of all types. But if I had to single one out, it would probably be planting garlic in the autumn. I get a real kick out of seeing the neat little rows of freshly sprouted garlic poking up through a frosty bed in November. Right when everything else is starting to look a bit tired and depressing going into the winter, the fresh, bright green shoots provide an uplifting contrast.
What do you find most rewarding about your planting?
Probably having creative and professional Chefs to deal with the produce! I am a keen domestic cook, but maybe not the most confident, so it’s really rewarding having such a skilled team to really get the best out of the produce that we have invested so much in whilst it has been growing.