Showing posts from August, 2008


Harvesting is a two sided coin: on the one side, the satisfaction, the pleasure at the gathering in and the putting into store and on the other the tyranny of the full basket of courgettes or beans, or whatever is this year's glut, crying out to be transformed into something which will keep while the garden sleeps. It is also the time to take stock of how the year has been. What grew well, what failed, what was far more trouble than it was worth, what was wonderful and will go on the list for next year? It has been a good year for apples for us. Yesterday we picked wheelbarrows full from the Howgate Wonder and there is more to come from the less sunny side of the tree. These are not a problem. They store wonderfully and slowly sweeten so that after Christmas they can be eaten by themselves although now they are a cooker and need sugar. The trickier apples are the ones on the old trees in the kitchen garden. They are smaller and sourer but we can't bear to throw them away. Thi

August - the end of the holidays

I don't know whether it comes from having a September birthday, but I have always liked the end of summer. Ian went back to work this morning and I am working at home. This is a tricky one because the garden is groaning with produce and it is all calling to me. We are weighed down with courgettes and runner beans and squash and more runner beans and apples by the ton. I should clearly be chutney making, not emailing or making conference calls. And today more than ever the view keeps luring me outside and as soon as I am out there I find flowers to deadhead, weeding to be done, sweetpeas to pick. Inside there are cushions to be made and the imminent arrival of KittyB is making me very aware of the need to clean. We went visiting elder daughter this weekend and I have also come home with a recipe for marrow and ginger jam which I am assured works just as well with overgrown courgettes (I turned my back on them for half an hour, that's all I did. Honestly, they are like ch

Holidaying at home

It must be the fashion this year. At least exmoorjane and I are doing it so we will call it a trend! The term "staycation" was hers, or that was where I first came across it - taking a holiday by staying at home. We decided to pick a week, take time off work but stay mainly at home. No airports, no queues, no being squashed into plane seats by giant people in front and behind. No lugging heavy cases and still finding you have no deodorant or the wrong shoes. No traffic jams, no sunburn, no prickly heat. Of course, this also means no glorious blue sky, no bougainvillea, no warm wind off a turquoise sea, but you can't have everything. We had promised ourselves that in this week we would not slog away busily on the longest to-do list in the world but would have some days out, even stay away overnight but never to be too far from home. On Tuesday we went to the Ceiriog valley. Lloyd George called this beautiful and hidden place "a litt

Reflections on garden projects

This morning a friend came up for a coffee. In February we made a big seed order together and split our packets so we could have more variety and grow more interesting things. You might not believe this if you looked at my garden and saw the amount of curly kale growing there but at the time that was the plan. Wandering around your garden with another gardener is always interesting. If you are looking at theirs you are busy noticing what is growing well for them that failed for you. If they are looking at yours they will invariably, because gardeners are nice people, exclaim over your successes and make you aware of what has worked well and, just for a fleeting second, allow you to see your garden through another's eyes. I am always aware of what I haven't done: the parsnips which failed to germinate, the succession sowing of salad stuff fallen by the way side, the beetroot left to get too large, the dratted bindweed twining meanly amongst the beans. My friend however excla