Growth report: ‘If the frost stays at bay, we will have leeks and kale’

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IN HER ongoing monthly reports, Centotre and the Scottish Cafe owner Carina Contini updates us on her efforts to create a kitchen garden.

My youngest daughter is a Christmas Day baby. I’m convinced she was born on 25 December as it is one of two days a year we are closed. Not surprisingly, she loves Christmas carols. When she was very little we’d often listen to Jingle Bells in July. The Holly and the Ivy is a favourite, but now with the garden it has so much more meaning.  

Since early November the garden has been covered with thousands of holly berries, a wonderful food supply for all the birds that live there. The glorious green of the leaves has brought a majestic glow to the grounds. Up until now we’ve been thinking of the garden just for food, but we’ve been given an unexpected early Christmas present.

If the frost stays at bay, we will have a fair quantity of leeks, kale, cavolo nero and salad leaves to see us though December. These are mostly under cloches, so there is very little colour in the garden. But as autumn leaves fall away the evergreens have come into their own. Ewe, secoya and fir form the backdrop, but the greens of the holly and the ivy are stunning, and they make for the most beautiful and sustainable decorations.  

Holly and ivy have been used to decorate since Pagan times as a symbol of nature’s ability to regenerate. Early Christians also adopted both plants, with holly representing the thorns used to crown Jesus and the berries sympolising the blood. We couldn’t resist carrying on the tradition and have used them to decorate outside Centotre.  

While the holly and the ivy will be a favourite Christmas present from our new kitchen garden, they won’t be quite as good as my very special little bundle that arrived seven years ago. Happy Birthday Arianna and Happy Christmas to all readers.

Casa San Lorenzo (; Twitter@CasaSanLorenzo