The garden of Château Neercanne

The garden of Château Neercanne

Every year all kinds of fruit and vegetables are grown in our château garden and processed in the kitchen into refined dishes. Our chef de cuisine from restaurant l’Auberge, works in collaboration with a group of volunteers, to ensure that every year a more organic and professional farming can be done. This all to create the tastiest, purest result for your taste buds. (More information can be find via information cards on location).

Contact information

Von Dopfflaan 10
6213 NG Maastricht
The Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)43 325 1359

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An exciting moment for new planting

New heights

In order to boost vertical growth, we have built various new structures to cultivate the height of several types of vegetables. Giving the garden a whole new look, a climbing net was placed in-between pea plants to support their height, and the great news is that the beans are already ready to be harvested. Over the last few years, we have expanded our knowledge on different crops, such as pumpkin plants, which have been successfully interspersed among existing beds.

Using our trusty handbook ‘ecological gardening’, we combined new research and our existing knowledge from the previous tomato garden, to start work on new horticultural ideas. This involved recycling materials from old vines to propagate cucumbers, melons and pumpkins. Fingers crossed for great success! Following these preparations, we planted the first cultivation of courgettes, pumpkins and turban squash.

Efficient watering
There is a technical side to our garden, the water supply. As the garden gets quite a few hours of sunshine during the day and because recent summers have been generally drier, in the past we have had to regularly water the crops. Having researched more efficient methods of watering, we implemented a soaker hose system. Over time, this scheme has been expanded and is currently active throughout half of the planting beds.

Unwelcome guests

Every garden has to deal with its fair share of unexpected problems and issues. Thankfully we can always rely on Stefan Muijtjens and our trusted manual for support.

When the tomato seedings were ready to go in the ground, we noticed a significant growth difference between the plants, and on inspection discovered they had contracted green lice. We worked with Stefan to resolve the situation in an ecological way. Firstly, we needed to select the plants we wanted to treat and those we unfortunately had to let go. Luckily, we always plant ample quantities, so have built up a margin for sufficient retention of usable plant material. After removing most of the flies and lice, the plants were sprayed with water three times a day. One week later, the problem seemed to be solved! Now the healthy tomato plants are thriving and showing off.

The newbies
Due to the sunny weather and warm temperatures, the soil has warmed up sufficiently and seeding in the open ground has begun. A start has been made with cut lettuce varieties, such as cabbage lettuce, so that we can use leaves from our own garden in dishes all summer long. In addition, we have also sown radishes and beans, with turnip greens and pak choi also ready to be planted.

1 June

The art of planting

In our garden, vegetables, fruit and herbs slowly starts growing in April.
When the final cold and icy nights are over, it’s time to get to work.
Behind the scenes our volunteers and agricultural professional, Stefan Muijtjens, -> click to work hard to cultivate the garden. The old living room of the former general manager plays a special role in this process…

The cultivation plan

In order to make optimal use of everything that grows in our garden, a schedule clearly indicates what each bed is used for and when each plant species is planted. This scheme is designed by Stefan in a nice and clear overview, focused on diverse and varying plants. This plan is extremely helpful, as we look to avoid monotonous land use and use as many species as possible. The premise behind all this is to maintain a healthy garden and soil.

Our plant groups

Our ambitions go beyond the kitchen. We strive to cultivate our own plant material in the garden. In order to achieve this from the seed on, we divided the group of volunteers into several focus groups, so that we can work in a very targeted manner and together build  an abundance of knowledge and skills. Each person becomes an expert in their specialization, which transfers beautifully into a collective effort to develop the garden at our castle, growing closer to the ultimate end goal.

From living room to “maternity room”

After preparing the last beds in our garden, the soil is raked and tilled with a swirl to create a nairy grow bed so that the plants grow at their best. Compost is also added and processed with the ground cover. Then, on a typical fresh spring morning in early April, it’s time to plant the very first plant material.

Furthermore, a start is made to grow our own plant material in the old living room of our former general manager, Peter Harkema. ’A living space first used for him and his wife is now the “life” of our own cultivated plants. After the seeds sprouted, the first plants were planted in our garden in the May loop. It’s an exciting time for us and our garden, evoking a sense of curiosity and anticipation, a feeling garden enthusiasts can appreciate.

From planting seeds to sharing plants

The seed group has been hard at work to develop a precise and targeted approach. We set specific goals and deadlines to achieve sufficient amounts in result of the seeds growing. Not all seeds planted are successful, so we take this into consideration in order to meet our target production. That said, we avoid overcrowding our garden, giving our “plant friends” proper space to grow.

If our garden grows faster and better than expected, we create an ‘exchange day’ with the surplus of vegetables, fruit and herbs on hand. It becomes a unique moment to invite guests into our garden to exchange ingredients and knowledge, so guests can enjoy and cook with our ingredients at home.

1 March

Ending past garden year

A new garden year can’t properly begin without ending the previous year. This is done as follow: the garden beds that are no longer in use at time are sown with green cover. This has a three-part effect; first of all, keeping the soil in place during the winter months, secondly it keeps the soil structure separate from the root system that is formed by the plants and finally the plants also serve directly as a breeding ground for when spring arrives and new compost mixed under the ground is being created.

Preparation and new goals in our garden

In the month October or November we all sit together with the team of Château Neercanne to evaluate our previous garden year. The positive points but also points for improvement are clearly mapped out from which objectives for the new garden year are drawn up. With this global plan we will start to reform our gardens in the best possible way.

One of our greatest ambitions for the upcoming year is to create greater diversity in the garden. This is not directly done in different types of products, but more as variation in type of seeds. For example, not just growing the green zucchini, but a mixture of different zucchinis. In this way we can also investigate which products grow most prosperously and which varieties have the tastiest flavour.

As a result, our kitchens work less with cultivated plant material and we will grow this almost entirely ourselves. This means that we realise everything in our own garden from the seed.

A wide selection has been made of different vegetables that are grown in the garden of our château. This selection is mainly aimed at classical, organic varieties and hybrid varieties (or crossed and combined varieties) are removed. This remains a somewhat difficult issue, but also aims as a strong goal within our garden.

From seed to growing nutrition

In the month of December the orders for our garden are made at various garden seed dealers. We opt for organic seed because this fits in perfectly with our organic way of working in the garden.

The first seeds were already delivered at the end of February. At that time, preparations in the garden are already in full swing. The compost for the garden beds is distributed. The snow and cold make it quite nerve racking  for our gardens, but the sun wins it every time and gives a big boost in the development. We notice this mainly from the positive growth of the herbs in the garden, which indicates to us that our products are definitely going in the right direction.

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