We are at the time of the year when I remember my parents would begin to repeat the mantra about fresh produce in the garden. “The beans are ready for picking”, “plenty of courgettes” or “please help yourself to lettuces – or else they will go to waste”.
Waste – anathema to the generation brought up in wartime rationing and post-war depression. Wasting good produce was deemed a cardinal sin in the garden. All those delicious vegetables and we don’t seem to want to eat them. Well, I am now in that happy position when some vegetables are coming to harvest time and the daily habit of picking them has started. I say “some” because, frankly, this summer has been pretty crappy with the cold wet weather putting paid to many of the early veg like the peas (one bowlful from a row of plants). But the runner beans are hitting their stride at the moment.
Harvesting runner beans is the equivalent of plate spinning: you check each row every day and try to pick every bean that is of the required size: not too skinny, but not too fat and stringy. But somehow you always manage to miss a couple so next day you see a cucumber sized bean hanging in the green shade. If you left it another day, you feel it would pull the whole plant over, such is the apparent speed with which they grow.
So today I will be getting out there and trying to reap as many as I can. And what will I do with all these beans? Well, I will follow the parents’ example and start slicing, blanching and freezing as many of the blighters as I can. Suddenly frozen veg in the winter seems a really worth while idea. If it means they don’t go to waste.
Meanwhile, T.O.M. keeps informing me that the carrots in his patch are ready to pick. I gladly took some last night – and they are delicious. Carrots are right up there in terms of veg that truly taste so much better than shop bought.
Pull ’em, rinse ’em, steam ’em and eat ’em. Stunningly delicious.
And in response to my pompous declarations to The Old Man that there are plenty of runners, he first of all said that he better make some runner bean chutney (what? from my beautiful fresh runners?) then, after we returned from our trip to the Olympics at the weekend, said he hadn’t realised there were any ready.
Now I know how he felt whenever I failed to heed his requests for me to pick my quota of produce.
Elsewhere, the hens continue to lay well, but who is laying what is a mystery as the three from the other day show: mummy egg, daddy egg and baby egg: double yoker, single yoker and, well, “could do better if she tried”.
The unpredictability of home harvests.
A final note on my previous post about labelling things. I decided to lift the shallots, which I did under the supervision of T.O.M. It was all going well, with him advising which were “banana” shallots and which the ordinary variety (pretty obvious really – no need for labels there) when I found one little clump which had not developed greatly. We simultaneously realised that this was not a clump of underprivileged shallots, but was a garlic bulb. How did that get there? I wondered. Then remembered that all the shallots and garlic had been put in hurriedly at the start of the spring. So, once agin, you need to be so careful to label things, you know.