Friday, 9 August 2013

Top of the Crops

A few hours were spent at the plot yesterday, and no doubt about it: the harvest has indeed now swung into "full steam ahead" mode. I reflected on the fact that when you're tending your plants, trying to get them into some sort of productive state, you imagine that the end result will be carefree days spent skipping round the place, plucking abundance from the heaving boughs. Well it's not quite like that; harvesting stuff actually takes time and effort. The fact that I'm stiff as a git today is only partly a function of how out of shape I am and due in at least some part to the simple truth that harvest time is quite hard work, albeit gloriously rewarding work at that.

I spent some time chopping the weeds down to manageable levels - we're on "don't let them go mental", rather than "eradicate" mode at the moment - with the battery powered strimmer, that has proved to be a useful, if not revolutionary investment, but apart from that we were mostly just hoiking and plucking. Here's some evidence.

Our spring-planted onions have done hearteningly well, after the catastrophic non-germination of our entire autumn-planted varieties. Here's Kasia, modelling this summer's trendy "armful of allium" look.

And here's the crop in its entirety - minus the odd few we'd pulled up early - drying out. These were Turbo, bought from Wilkos and grown from sets with nothing much more than the odd handful of chicken manure pellets scattered in their general direction. They've done great.

As have beetroots and broad beans. We grew Boltardy and Chioggia Barabietola, both of which have put in a sterling shift, in spite of us letting the seedlings get really leggy before planting out. I've got plans for beetroot risotto, and a jar or two of home made pickled fellows. Recipes to follow, provided that I get my shit together to post them here. As for broad beans, we've had to freeze a big bag of them, which is a first for us and feels like a totemic achievement, like we've crossed some sort of gardening Rubicon!

French climbing beans have come on-stream with wild abandon: we're going to need a bigger tupperware, skipper! Last year's crop was a total wash-out, but this time around they've gone totally mad and I think I may need a set of ladders to harvest them by the end. We've grown Blue Lake, the same variety that failed so spectacularly last year. I see a theme developing here...

I grabbed a few courgette flowers, and finally got round to cooking them up, deep fried style. I've sat and watched various 'sleb chefs doing these and always thought "bet that's good", but you have a minute window of opportunity before they go all shriveled and useless, so I've never managed it until now. A wodge of soft mozzarella and an anchovy in each (Valentine Warner's version), a thorough dredge through a simple batter, then fry until crisp unt light brown. These were well worth the faff: fritters of golden melty joy, such as they were.

Spuds. We've got stupid amounts of spuds. This bagful, which I could barely lift, was from four or so of the less productive plants. We've only just pulled up the last of our Rocket first earlies, with 2nds and main crop still to come. Despite being first earlies, some of these are big enough to make jacket potatos from, which I think I'll do as a bit of an experiment. We roasted a tray of them last night and they were really, really good.

Thankfully, we were momentarily joined on the plot by a couple of the local waifs and strays Kasia's ex-colleagues, who relieved us of some excess veg. Kasia reckons I'm overly reticent to give stuff away, even when we've got loads. Clearly my inherited Scottish tightwoddishness rearing its ugly head...

In other, non-pictorially documented news, we picked and immediately ate our first ever home-grown tomato, (lovely, thanks), and harvested a load of kale, some of which was turned into kale chips. If you've never made these before stop what you're doing right now and get to it! They're bloody amazing.

Finally, a couple of nature pics as a bit of a treat for you. Here's a slightly-out-of-focus ladybird. Haven't seen too many of those this year. Hope they're doing ok, I don't know if I can handle feeling guilty about yet another species, it's hard enough getting through a day sullied by the knowledge of what's happening to the bees.

No such issues for this fine lad though ( this is Albert, in case you didn't know). Yesterday, we let him out the house for the first time since having moved in, and then again today which brought on all sorts of weird "will he ever come back?!" feelings. He's never had a hedge to peer through before. He loved it. And he came back too. What a bloody legend.


  1. Everything has gone mad!Lovely!

    Like the cat's eye view of the garden.

  2. Looks like a great harvest you are getting. Isn' it lovely when all your hard work pays off. Don't feel guilty about the bees...I'm doing my bit and now have three hives!!

    Your cat is lovely...nice to see him enjoying the big outdoors!

  3. Good luck with those hives! My sister's boyfriend has just got his first hives, he's pretty damn excited.


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