Slaving over a hot stove on a hot summer day isn’t my idea of fun… well actually – it kind of is. But that is what I have been doing. Processing the harvest. Now that the holidays are a thing of the past and the beach sand has been well and truly shaken from our shoes, the garden is getting more attention than it has seen in weeks. It would seem the garden is quite grateful as it is rewarding me with more than enough produce. Not that I’m complaining… well I may be a little moany about the zucchinis. I have already reached the point where whoever sets foot across our threshold immediately has several zucchinis thrust upon them with the desperate plea of “please take them.”
I thought I had my zucchinis under control when I only planted out three and gave the rest of the seedlings away, with the traumatic year I had six plants firmly etched into my memory as something never to repeat. I was proud of my restraint. Last year had fooled me a little as it was a bad year for pumpkins, squash, cucumbers and all things Cucurbit. And I was lead to believe three was quite a manageable number. Nope – wrong. In a good season, even this is too many. The zucchini refinement will go on into next season and probably beyond that. But I do see trouble ahead. I currently grow a “normal” dark green zucchini and my favourite kind – a Lebanese variety with light skin and it is sweeter than the dark green one. But over the holidays one of our wonderful hosts had bright yellow ones in their garden. I now want yellow ones too. How cool would it look on the plate to have all three? Therein lies the problem. I have already established three is too many!
The gherkins are also having a fabulous time. I pickled five jars yesterday and that was from just a couple of days of harvesting. There are more out there again now… Luckily we love gherkins and all that remains of last year’s crop is a few slithers lurking in the bottom of a jar in the back of the fridge.
The spaghetti squash scare me. This year (fooled by last year’s less than ideal conditions for all things squash) I decided to plant them with the butternut squash instead of in their usual position on the cucumber climbing frame where they invariably take over. But they have just gone nuts! There are at least a dozen monster sized squash and the plant shows no signs of slowing down. I am considering stopping it in its tracks by nipping out the growing points. I don’t normally like to do this as I’m a greedy gardener and want all I can get. But it is driving me to it – it must be stopped before it takes over the world. Next year I think I will plant it by itself in some naughty corner where it can do no harm to anyone.
But not all things have been so rampant. I shall mention this only once and then we shall never speak of it again. My garlic completely failed. The entire crop has been relegated to the compost heap with not even a slightly edible bulge where the bulb should be. I am determined enough to peel pitiful cloves. I grew it, damn it I’ll eat it! But there wasn’t even anything to peel. The terrible wet spring encouraged the rust to feast on my poor wee garlic and at the same time made the soil to inhospitable for the garlic to want to grow. The incessant rain made treating the rust next to impossible and it didn’t stand a chance. I am not looking forward to having to buy garlic for the next year, but it adds a certain something to almost every meal, so it has to be done. Sigh. Next year will be better – even if I have to hold an umbrella over the crop myself!
The beetroot on the other hand got off to a great start and just didn’t know when to stop! I should have harvested it before Christmas, but it just got too busy. I finally got round to harvesting it the other day and it was ginormous! I thought it would be all woody and inedible, but was pleasantly surprized. It end up as beetroot chips, diced in salads and in chocolate beetroot muffins. I’m not sure I have jars big enough to put them in to pickle them, but I’ll try my best to squish them in. You can’t have a good burger without a slice of beetroot!
Join me on a quick post holiday tour of the garden. It’s not looking too bad all things considered.
Come again soon – the bird battle is about to commence, they will not take my tomatoes!
Sarah the Gardener : o )