High summer has become an Indian summer with warm weather interspersed with serious rain. Perfect growing conditions, in fact, and the grass has come back with a vengeance after being parched in July and August. I have been mowing more than at any time this year, just to keep the grass tidy and – more importantly – to enable us to clear up the copious amounts of dog waste which are being deposited by our rapidly maturing puppy (and her colleague the ginger whinger).
They are good companions in the garden, although I am concerned for the well-being of some of the veg as Ella, like an unruly child, does not grasp the idea of boundaries. She gleefully jumps over the low chicken wire designed to keep the rabbits out, trying to gorge herself on raspberries or simply run through the swedes, beans or potatoes.
Growing fruit and veg one soon realises that what you see is not always what you get. The Sarpo Mira have been happily growing all summer, and when I dug the first ones it was clear what a good summer it had been. I was afraid that the small areas where the soil had washed off and the potatoes were green would mean a smaller crop. But no: they were massive…weighing in at two pounds apiece some of them – like mini meteors. Although they mostly look good, they are not all going to store well: there were a few already rotting, but when one potato will probably suffice as a meal for four, you don’t need too many to survive. And anyway, we are still working our way through the King Edwards – which are storing well – so we will be OK for potatoes for a while yet.
Next on the harvesting were the borlotti beans, which I had been monitoring to see how the pods were maturing and drying. Waiting till the surfaces of the pods turn red mean that they are more likely to be ripe, and they are also easier to spot as they stand out well against the yellowing leaves. I duly harvested them a couple of weeks ago and, after they had lain in the greenhouse to dry off a little, I podded them. Eight pounds of beans was the resultant haul, with most showing a good speckled burgundy on cream. I had the rapt attention of Fudge who loves a bit of bean picking, but who was dismayed by the taste of the one errant bean that fell to the floor. As borlottis are one of those beans that need proper cooking before you can eat them, it’s probably as well that she spat it out. The last thing we need is a ginger puker.
The beans have dried reasonably well, though some have gone a little brown. Perhaps I should have left the pods longer to get the crimson coat before shelling. Who knows.
The squashes were next on the list and we have now got over twenty assorted butternut and crown prince squashes. They are storing on the shelves by the Old Man’s back door – “the best place to store them” according to the oracle. I took his advice. It was not something I was going to argue about: it’s cool and relatively dry, so they should be OK there.
Tomatoes, peppers and even melons have continued to grow in the warm autumn. The melons are not much larger than the melon balls that you get in second rate restaurants (and less than half the size of a sarpo mira spud) so we probably won’t repeat that experiment – unless Paddi wants to give us some more plants next year…
So: much of the harvest is gathered in – even a cabbage, which the OM advised me to pick before it split. Once again, on the outside it looked a little caterpillar-eaten, but under the surface detail, the core was great.
It’s just rather a lot of cabbage for the two of us.