Food glorious food

14Sep08

A little bit of September sunshine the last couple of days, so I’ve been out and about in the garden. All the warm weather and rain in the couple of weeks we were away in August has waved a green flag at all the weeds and they are now totally out of control. But an hour’s worth of weeding the brassicas pretty much sorted that bed out, so it feels more manageable – I actually feel like I’ll get to the end of it (as if!!) rather than looking out and feeling totally defeated. Sadly, the overgrowth has encourage the slugs and the rotten slimebuckets have decimated my calabrese and purple sprouting broccoli. Gah! It doesn’t matter how many times I tell the kids that they’re nature’s cleaners, I’d be perfectly happy if something exterminated every single last one of them off the planet. Unless, of course, they could be trained to each weeds, and weeds only. In which case, I’d be happy to welcome them into my garden. But until they prefer weeds to brassicas, I’ll continue to unleash the nematodes after them.

One of the cucumbers has gone a bit bonkers and is having a late flush of growth – suddenly it’s covered in incipient fruits. I’m a bit anxious that none of them will ripen before we have a frost, but I just don’t think I can lift it, pot it and get it indoors without killing it. I’ll just have to hold on and hope for the best. I do need to get the last of the outdoor tomatoes harvested, as well. It was definitely a little chilly last night, so the Strelitzias have come in this evening to the conservatory. I think I’m going to take cuttings off the geranium and then let the frost get it, as it’s gone dreadfully straggly. I need to get the lavender harvested as well . . . it hasn’t done too badly for its first season, so I want to make sure I don’t waste it.

Plenty of good stuff going on!

I’ve still got a bucketful of windfalls I need to finally deal with, but we’re working our way through them pretty regularly. Most of the blemishes are minor but meant I can’t store them for later, so we’re mostly eating them – once the skins are off they’re good! I had a little moment today when we had a snack in the garden and the kids fell on it like a plague of locusts – slices of apple (from our garden), handmade bread and gorgeous local double gloucester cheese sticks – just perfect, and so fantastic to see them tucking into real good food.

We had a BBQ yesterday evening, and almost everything was from our garden or locally produced or organic. The steaks came from a local farm, and 2 weeks ago I was there when they were catching the Hereford that gave us these steaks . . . . potatoes came out of our garden, as did cucumber, pepper, tomatoes and a delish crunchy cos lettuce (the last one, sigh!). I put some raw carrot in the salad and that lowered the tone a bit as it came out of our Abel and Cole veg box (heh heh heh). And, to top it all off, sweetcorn!! I had the water boiling and ready, and the cobs came off the plant and within minutes were in the pan. That was the best damn sweetcorn I have EVER tasted in my entire life. It was such a fantastic feeling, to know that what we were eating we’d all taken part in growing for ourselves, and I think it has really made us determined that next year we’ll grow MORE, because we all want more meals like that!

Today I planted shallots in one of the raised beds down at the bottom of the garden, and covered it over with crossed canes to keep out the wretched damn pigeons. Hopefully I won’t lose the lot this time round . . . the dratted cat has become a fairly efficient pigeon catcher this summer, so I’m hoping word has got around the pigeon gang and that our garden is now off the ‘good food guide’ for them. Humph. I wish I could believe they were that intelligent. I’ll be keeping an eye on things, and if I need to net, it will be done, much as I hate to – it inevitably looks so unsightly. I keep telling myself I should worry about aesthetics less . . . but but but

My seed catalogues arrived for next season, so I indulged myself this afternoon sitting out in the garden going through it, lusting after all the veg, and starting to think about what we’ll have next year. I have saved some seeds from this year, but I’m not sure how well they’ll come up, so I guess I need to supplement just to make sure. So difficult to narrow down the choices, but I think I want to try a couple of heirloom varieties of the things we’ve succeeded with in the last couple of years. I’m looking for a good source on companion planting, as that looks like as well as increasing fertility and crop yields and of course keeping down the wretched pests, it might offer some ideas for space savers. And I really want to try a “3 sisters” patch of corn, beans and squash.

It’s exciting, though, because although it signals the beginning of the end of this season, it means that all the fruit trees and bushes I ordered will be coming soon. I’m already wild with anticipation thinking of all the extra fruit we’ll get next year, and of course there’s my indulgence – the walnut tree – coming this year as well. I can’t wait! Of course, it means I need to get my act together and get the ground prepared for them. Oh good, more weeding!! Let’s hope for a good few days of decent weather (as long as it doesn’t rain, I’m happy) so I can get things back under control.

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