WATCH: Exploring the 700-year-old Tresellian Estate
PUBLISHED: 10:58 11 December 2019
At Trewithen Dairy, we know very well that the flavour of natural produce can tell you if something is just right
Trewithen Dairy may be justifiably proud of our delicious dairy produce, but we're proud of all the wonderful produce that comes out of Cornwall and, along with chef James Strawbridge, were both intrigued and amazed by the extraordinary flavours of the Cornish Heritage apples and other produce that come from the gardens at Tresillian House near Newquay, where John Harris, head gardener for almost 40 years, uses the moon as a guide to gardening.
John was taught the fundamentals of moon gardening early on, but over the years has looked at the way other civilisations such as the North American Indians, Incas, Maoris, Greeks and Romans worked in harmony with nature, with the moon central to their theories about cultivation.
John explains that tides are highest at new and full moon and with the moisture rising, that's when we plant everything that produces its crop underground - the roots, potatoes and so on.
In the first quarter, everything that produces a crop above the ground is planted- the corns, flowers, legumes and the rest. Full moon is when there is maximum moisture within the soil, and the plant is extracting as much out of the ground as possible - this gives you the best flavour, and the better keeping quality.
The last quarter, when the water table is dropping to its lowest, is the best time to do the digging and manuring, take cuttings and prune hedges.
And John believes all this makes a crucial difference to the flavour, pointing out that you'll often buy produce in the shops that tastes more like cardboard than lovely fresh fruit or vegetables. He explains that this is mostly due to crops being picked out of cycle with nature. He's adamant that you get a better crop if you follow the moon.
Moon gardening is about the right work, rather than more work. John believes in taking a step back now and then, and learning from what you see. He feels that moon gardening makes you more thoughtful and observant in general. And if you are prepared to see, a garden will always tell you what you need to know.
And as John tells James Strawbridge: "I wanted to leave something behind for someone… these trees are going to be here for 150 years. It's looking after our environment. It's looking after what our children are going to inherit."