A couple of years ago, I wrote a post here about the sensory awareness of plants. We had planned to go away this weekend, and stay near Cotehele Manor, with a view to finally visiting this beautiful and historic house and garden, but unfortunately (or fortunately as it turned out), our plants had other ideas. We were due to leave at around Friday lunchtime, having worked extra hard, with the assistance of younger daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Dom to get things in all of the gardens up together. Thursday evening came around, and after dinner we both walked down to the allotment to make sure things were watered enough to keep them going for a few days (hopefully), but when we got there, our little veg patch had decided that it wasn't ready to let us go just yet. We had paid our deposit on the accommodation, but it became apparent very quickly that due to everything growing much faster than we had anticipated, we would have to cancel, due to the work that our 'children' now demanded of us.
It was much too late in the day, and we were far too tired, to try to water AND harvest the crop that we were thankfully faced with, and so we decided to enjoy the weekend in a different way. I telephoned our accommodation to cancel, we watered everything copiously that evening, and we returned home to make our new plans for the weekend.
It's time consuming, because not only must we pick all of the crops that are ready, but they must be prepared for storage in whatever way is necessary. Courgettes, both yellow and green, are picked and cooked with onions, herbs, fresh garlic, peppers and tomatoes into freezable portions of ratatouille. This is then frozen, and is used as a base for later dishes with aubergine etc. Some were left to chargrill on the barbecue later. Purple beetroot are roasted, and then half of them frozen as they are, for whatever way we wish to prepare them in the future. The remainder are added to vegetable stock, carrots, celery, thyme and orange, to make a delicious beetroot soup, all of which is now also in one of our freezers.
It took most of our weekend, and we made sure that the 'work' was mostly playtime. There were of course plenty of tea breaks, we are gardeners after all, and tea is what keeps our blood flowing!
To us, an allotment must not only be functional, but also something that is pleasing to the eye. Wherever we spend time amongst plants of any kind, there absolutely MUST be a peace brought to the soul, and a beauty to the eye, however small. To this end, we plant different coloured sweet peas alongside our runner and French beans.
And choose Mangetout 'Shiraz', instead of the usual green varieties.
The sweet corn is moving on well, and we are trying a couple of new things this year.
Purple Amaranthe (Amaranthus cruentus), grows to about six feet, and the leaves can be cooked, or used in a salad. Once the flowers go to seed, these too can then be used. Used as long ago as 4000BC, it can only be a winner, if only for the summer due to it being an annual.
And Tree Spinach (Chinopodium giganteum), growing to about eight feet tall, is used in the same way as common spinach throughout Asia.
As well as the purple beetroot, we are growing 'Burpees Golden'. Although a little behind the purple, we have picked a few, and the flesh colour is something quite special.
Chard, Yellow and Green Courgettes, Redcurrants, Blackcurrants, Purple and Gold Beetroot, Marrow, Broad Beans and Black Mangetout, all in all not a bad weekend haul. It's now Sunday evening, and all is cooked, prepared, frozen or eaten.
Oh, and we didn't forget the cats. Hobie found our little gift of some Catmint most.....hmmmm....invigorating!
I hope your up and coming week is a good one.