You reap what you sow, mostly.

Funny ol’ week. Bit of a return to source if you will.

Partying is all very well, but the garden doesn’t look after itself whilst you’re busy elsewhere. I still get shocked after all these years at how much can happen in a handful of days. Take your eye off the ball and…Yup, veritable jungle. A bit of serious work was more than essential. It’s getting a bit late for summer sowing but I figured a bit of graft and a lot of watering should have us back in line, so I dug out the whip!

With so much ripening and readying it’s time to take stock. And a stroll round the garden, pen in hand had me weak at the knees with the list of to-dos to do. Yikes…The only thing for it was some very early mornings ( yeah, the happy heat is de retour.) and a touch of willing – Actually, these days I feel a bit like like a runner with a broken leg if I go too long without hands in earth. There is something so restorative about the garden, a literal grounding methinks. But more on mental health at a less busy time…

So what have we achieved ? Well, quite a bit really. The greenhouse was a major concern – complete explosion – the tomatoes are absolutely fabulous, but the best way to keep the blight at bay I’ve found is regular and hard pruning back and training. Two weeks without attention and the time to take action had long since passed, so we stripped down to our vests and got stuck in. People would pay a lot of money to do a hot yoga class, says Hal as we twisted, stretched and sweated buckets amongst the vines.

IMG_0435
Before… 
..during...
..during…
...and after
…and after

The cornichons (that’s gherkins to us,) were next on the list. This is the first time I’ve ever tried growing this much loved french addition to any assiette de charcuterie and although I’m not giving up yet, it’s not been a frank success. You have to keep on top of the little blighters – they get too big and they get too bitter and we know what I’ve already said about eyes and balls recently ! Consequence ? The chickens and goats have been having a bit of a treat – no, nothing gets wasted but I’d have preferred them in jars on the shelf! To that end I picked another load of giants earlier in the week and Hal stripped back the leaf and did a first picking of reasonable sized beauts yesterday. Hurrah !

IMG_3980
Won’t get many of them in a jar…

The aubergines are truly astonishing, so heavy with fruit, all that was needed there was to take off the shading leaves and give them a damned good soaking. Done ! Cucumbers – same same !

IMG_0426

The peppers are a bit sad – tons of fruit, healthy looking plants but the brown patches are spreading – probably blossom end rot, which can be put down to irregular watering (hands up) and a lack of calcium. Now I did lime the greenhouse this spring, but this is seriously acid country so mebee a bit of a heavier hand this autumn? At least what isn’t affected is still pretty tasty. And the the chillis are fine and dandy, just needed a bit of staking to help them support the weight of the fruit, oh and our kids to grow up enough to appreciate a little kick on the end of a fork !

IMG_3987
Think it’s blossom end rot, can anyone confirm this..?

The loofah ? Well after a late start we did finally get one into the greenhouse but it’s not doing as well as I’d hoped. After reading about how the Portugese use loofahs for household cleaning, washing up etc. I got all fired up about never having to buy those awful scratchy sponge thingys again. Promptly ordered some seeds and then waited, rather too long for them to arrive. So I’m not sure that this year will be one from which to draw conclusions. Those we planted outside have fared even less well, thanks to our bobtailed invaders (who, by the by have also levelled the jerusalem artichokes.) But there are a few little fruit so maybe I should just pinch out the vine and let those fatten up with seed for next year ?

IMG_3989
Loofah to be…or not?

So that’s just the thirty square metres of tunnel. The rest ?

Well for those of you I’ve already bored with onion talk you’ll be glad to hear you can finally weed the beggars. Most people have wondered why the only untidy spot in the garden has been the alliums, well we actually wanted the weeds ! In the last month of growth we try to avoid an excess of nitrogen (too much can lead to extremely poor conservation.) So if you want to be eating yer onions and shallots all winter, weed growth as diversionary tactic is just the thing. But now we need to air them out ready for harvesting at the end of the week. No sooner said…

IMG_3979

The mange tout and broad beans have done their jobs. I could have eaten more and we haven’t frozen anything this year but I wouldn’t have traded this wonderful weather for a few more peas and that’s what it would have meant >shudder<… So Hal cleared the lot, forked it over and we’ve tried a little late sowing, kale, spinach, more parsnips (I know, supremely late, but with the snippy disasters this year we gotta at least try!) cauliflower, lambs lettuce and autumn rocket. Fingers and toes crossed.

IMG_3996

Well that’s some of what we’ve been up to, but I’m beginning to bore myself with all this gardening business so I reckon it would suffice to say that we’ve worked our little tails off and are vaguely approaching being on top of it all !

Just like every year there have already been fabulous successes and unmitigated disasters, but I’m just about capable of rolling with it these days – a failed crop doesn’t have to be a disaster if you go for maximum diversification and our tastebuds are always enlivened by a bit of variety !

As I’ve watched this summer (with a mixture of joy and admiration,) my eldest daughter stepping beautifully over the line into womanhood, I’ve been thinking a fair bit about reaping what you sow. And I know that if, in bluer times, I ever need a reason to carry on doing what we’re doing, then that’s got to be a bloody good one.

’til next week,

mandy x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s