I have had a lovely time. Hubby the Un-Gardener took the boys away camping to make the most of the summer before… well we won’t dwell on the coming months. It’s still summer and that’s all that counts. I miss them very much, but to garden uninterrupted is such a pleasure. So I indulged myself in all things gardening.
I started out by sowing the next season’s seeds. I’ve been putting it off as it seems way too early to be bothering with cold weather crops, but they need the warm start and so there was nothing else for it but to reach for the seed raising mix. I hope to have flourishing in my garden later in the year: red cabbage, cavolo nero, witloof, celeriac, spinach, Asian stir fry mix, leeks, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and not to mention the kohlrabi and romanesco that are already in the ground. I also sowed some herbs that I intend to limp along inside for our culinary delight, namely dill, coriander, cutting celery and basil.
It is still quite hot and we are still in drought conditions, so I came up with a cunning plan to stop my seed trays drying out between watering, I placed a wet newspaper in a large tray under my seeds and so far so good, everything is still damp. Now I just need the seeds to pop up. I don’t suppose checking three or four times a day is going to speed things up but I can’t help myself from having a wee peek.
I had a quick look about the garden to see if there is actually room for all the seeds I’ve sown. Although not all of the seedlings are intended for my garden as I really want my friends to be encouraged away from fair weather gardening and grow year round, so I should have heaps of spares to give away. While some have logical locations within my crop rotation, some may not fit. What I need now is an empty bed that won’t be needed until next October and the only empty bed so far is the one that I just took out the potatoes, however it is only three quarters empty as there is still a row of spuds in there, but it will have to do.
Then I got my hands dirty and prepared to soil for the carrots and parsnips. That meant harvesting the beetroot to make room, so it was just as well they were ready. I think I have mastered the art of getting a good big straight carrot so I’m looking to do what I did last time, to make sure it wasn’t a fluke! I dug down deep and fluffed up the soil in the row, a little obsessively – with my hands. But I crushed all the lumps and removed all the stones. But the carrot seeds will have to wait another day as I have run out of fertiliser and I need to feed the row, but with carrots you can’t use any organic matter or the carrot would fork. The proof will be revealed in the coming months as to whether it was a one off great carrot season or not.
I looked across at the pepper bed and found it positively teaming with Hungarian Wax chillies that need to be harvested so into my basket went the equivalent of $130 worth of chilies – based on local supermarket prices for fresh jalapeno. While in the mood for harvesting, I took my basket and headed down to the orchard to see if anything was ready. I came back with over a kilo of elderberries and a handful of windfall apples and pears.
Suddenly my kitchen was full of things that needed my attention. There were gherkins that I picked a few days ago, and chillies that received the same treatment and were pickled. Beetroot have become my new all-time favourite vegetable of the moment. Roasted they are delicious and in chocolate muffins – even yummier! I cooked it up and froze half so I can satisfy my beetroot desires at any time and pickled the rest. I froze the elderberries as there are still more to ripen on the bush. Once they are all harvested they have been earmarked for elderberry wine – a sophisticated drink.
Once I cleared away the mess of a day of kitchen gardening, the windfall apples and pears sat there staring at me. So I made a cuppa tea and flicked through my favourite preserving recipe books and stumbled upon a recipe for ‘gardener’s windfall chutney’ and I had all the ingredients – although I did have to pick through the Christmas fruit mix to get enough sultanas! It couldn’t have had a better name – it was just the ticket, so I set about whipping up a batch.
I didn’t read the recipe properly – I never read recipes properly, and once it got it to boil, it looked really wet and more like soup than chutney, so I checked to see if I’d done something wrong and stumbled across the line that said simmer and stir frequently for two and a half hours! TWO and a HALF HOURS. It better be really nice.
Come again soon – the harvest is slowly being squirreled away for the winter.
Sarah the Gardener : o )