Growing veggies rewinds me back to being a giddy 6 year old. I marvel at, and become overly excited by, the sight of plants producing big, fat veggies. That teeny, tiny seed I saved from last year and sowed this year has turned into a monster plant laden with…….and here’s the exciting bit….stuff that I can actually eat!
The most childishly joyful part of veg growing though is, surely, the unearthing of our root crops. We never know quite how well (or badly) they have done until we pull them or dig them out of their earthy beds. Carrots and parsnips invariably draw giggles as they come out of the ground in all their misshapen, sometimes naughtily so, glory….and there will always be the prize parsnip, longer than anything we’ve ever grown before, which cannot be eaten until at least half of our friends, family, facebook pals have had a chance to marvel at it’s size…..
But the best, the absolute best, is doing a ‘pirate’…..(fancy dress is not obligatory but does help)……when we go digging for buried treasure. Except the treasure isn’t gold but, rather, potatoes. I will never ever cease to be made a bit giddy by this act. Where to place the fork? Too near and you may spear them…….too far and you may miss them….. The act is best performed after a few dry days….but, heck, never mind waiting there’s treasure to be found. All potato digging should be done with a pirate accent. Arrrrrrrr.
Weeks later, the now idle potato bed is ready to be dug over and sown with winter green manure……..but wait……..the treasure still comes….clearing the beds for autumn/winter sowing and revealing yet more of these little treasures I can’t help but let out little squeals of piratic joy.
Being on the plot makes me a kid……being on the plot makes me a pirate. Let the squeals of childish joy ring out.
The days are getting a little shorter….but the to-do list is getting longer:
Remove/compost plants which have stopped producing.
Dig over the empty spaces, weeding as I go (esp. perennial weeds!)
Prepare empty beds for sowing of green manures.
Sow green manures.
Sow overwintering broad beans.
Continue to harvest (leave enough time to cook/bottle/store).
Prepare spaces for storing/get bottling equipment ready.
Check winter crops for disease/pest damage etc and remove/burn diseased plants if any.
Dead head flowers to prolong/start gathering seed from those gone over.
Clean bean poles/other supports ready for storing.
This year I have been trying to cut down on my consumption of plastic. One of the first places I looked to do this was my ‘under-the-sink’ cupboard…..it wasn’t overly full of bottles and products but was definitely an area I could improve on in my little green battle…..it wasn’t just about the plastic (though that was the primary concern) but also the amount of ingredients in all those bottles……I have a science degree but didn’t understand half of what the labels were saying.
Making my own fabric conditioner could not have been easier (or cheaper!). It’s too simple for words……just a bottle of distilled vinegar (the white/clear stuff) plus 50ish drops of essential oils (I used 25 of bergamot and 25 of lavender). I liked the idea that I could have my own ‘product’ with, basically, a couple of ingredients and very little waste. The bottle is the original bottle the vinegar came in (label soaked off and my own label pasted on) and the essential oils come in glass bottles which I can recycle. The vinegar is great for keeping your washing machine tubes/parts in good order as it cuts through all the soap scum and helps keep that ‘funky’ smell at bay. My clothes come out squeaky clean and fresh…….and, no, they don’t smell like a chip shop! Give it a good shake before you pour it into your normal conditioner dispenser drawer. Trust me, it works…..and costs about 60p!
I am a summer girl. No two ways about it – I love the summer; the heat, the light, the explosion in the kitchen garden, the buzz of the insects, the long drawn out nights.
A summer girl I may be…..but I love all the seasons for their differences. I was walking through my kitchen garden today and marvelling at the colours. The colours never mind the vegetables and I thought of Keats and his ‘mellow fruitfulness’……I was assailed by yellows from the fading sunflowers (the seeds will be shared between me and the birds), the fading oranges of the nasturtiums, the pale ‘nudes’ of the squash just desperate to be harvested and turned into gorgeous orange soup, the insipid green/yellow of the beans drying on the plants…all around me was a variation of yellow/orange/red.
In the spring time we have the acid colours; the tips of green, the flowers of yellow……I love to see them because they are a reminder of what is to come. By summertime the colours have become the primary palette that children know; bright dark green, pops of cherry red, pimples of raspberry pink, flashes of bumblebee bottom yellow…..with splashes of jewels in-between (corn flower blue makes me weak at the knees)…..and then we fade in to this autumn hue of….well…..burnt out, done in, fading yellow glory. It is sublime. But the best is yet to come.
Most folk tuck-up their kitchen gardens for winter and think of Christmas and all the hulla-balloo…….and leave the soil behind for a few months. But the wise amongst us know that the winter beds will feed us still and repay us with the beautiful colours of winter: red cabbages, touched with frost….the darkest of green, crinkle edged Savoys, the almost blue/black of the Cavolo Nero, the purple veins that beat the hearts of our brassicas….