There has been an imperceptible shift in the garden. Up until this point I feel like I have been managing tender young seedlings, doing what I can to nurture them into independence. They have been scrawny, scrappy and poorly and several even died. I replaced a few, more than once, to ensure the garden matched the plan I drew up during the long cold winter months.
There are still gaps where the window for popping in a few extra seeds is closing fast and a few poorly looking plants who need a boost of love to see them through the next week or so without expiring. Suddenly these are the exception and not the norm. I’m not sure when this happened. But sometime, beneath my very eyes in the last week or so, the plants got their wings and took off. They are strong, robust and full of life and full of fruit. This was completely unexpected. You can be too familiar with what is in front of you that you don’t notice the changes.
I have been looking at the big picture – removing weeds, which have also exploded everywhere, but also keeping things watered. Until we ran out of water! I wasn’t looking for the harvest because I wasn’t expecting it just yet. From now on I shall be paying closer attention. If the development of fruit can easily escape my attention, then there is the potential for pest and disease to do the same, and that is certainly not going to happen. I won’t allow it.
For the first time ever – I harvested all the zucchini on the plants while they were small, once I noticed them. Normally they escape my attention for half a day and go from too small to too large! I made delish zucchini fritters with them all. We ended up with too many zucchini fritters, but leftovers make great lunches. Too many zucchini is a problem in the waiting. I may regret planting four different varieties, but one summer a friend of mine made a lovely chutney with sliced zucchini of different colours and I thought it would be nice to try it. Besides – I do have a backup plan for marrows – dehydrating them into chips is a delish treat in our house. You can find out how I do that > HERE <.
Aside from the zucchini which are in edible form, the onion and garlic are curing in the greenhouse. The onion on the top shelf in full sun and the garlic on the bottom shelf in the shade. Garlic can lose flavour if left in the sun to dry. I harvested a load of peas but missed the signs and so some are a little older than need be, but still edible. They may work well in a lovely pea risotto, slowly cooked in butter and white wine, with a bit of cooked chicken added at the end. The rhubarb could have a few of its fat stalks harvested for a tart but sweet treat and the salad leaves are ripe for the picking. I will need to sow more lettuce to ensure there is always leaves available for summer salads.
The pumpkins have gone nuts and have strong sturdy shoots scrambling across their allotted space. Not only that, but there are baby pumpkins that have, for certain, been pollinated and are increase in size daily – well daily since I noticed them! The spinach is almost of an edible size, so I need to whip up some homemade ricotta cheese so I can make chicken, spinach and ricotta pasta rolls, with a rich tomatoey sauce. I can almost taste it now.
The tomatoes are still a way off, but they are there in the green. Even in their unripe stage, the variety of shapes and sizes are being revealed. I can’t wait for a basket full of tomatoes of all colours and styles. Not only will it look fabulous, but it will be a taste sensation! It feels like every day one or more of them need tying into the next rung on the tomato structure.
Some things aren’t doing so well though. The strawberries are still struggling since they nearly died in the spring when it was unexpectedly dry for the 10 days I was out of town. We almost got a small harvest the other day, but the chickens got out and gobbled them all up. It is probably for the best, so they can recover without the burden of bearing fruit. Just so long as we get some for Christmas.
The beetroot bolted to seed in the midst of the strange weather. I have sowed more, but in the windy conditions since, it has been hard to keep the soil moist and so not all of them have popped up. I need to fill the gaps. I think the okra is being targeted by snails and then in their vulnerable state, not coping with the wind buffering them about. So I think I’ll give them a good liquid feed – once we get more water and then pop them under a 3L juice bottle with the botttom chopped off to create a warm and still micro climate and maybe even slip a few slug pellets in there too – where they are safe from the curious snout of Jasper the dog. Normally I happily protect my crops with the pellets, however as Jasper finds the well-rotted manure mixed into the soil fascinating and worth a taste (dogs can be so disgusting at times), I can’t take the risk of using it as freely as I did before. But for the sake of the okra I need to do something.
This has been a funny season, but I think it may end up surprising me with its bounty.
Come again soon – I may even share a few recipes that my family actually enjoy!
Sarah the Gardener : o)