One of the things that I love about August is the productiveness of the kitchen garden. In a temperate climate such as ours, with a quite a short growing season, it seems ages to wait for all those glorious Mediterranean vegetables. I eagerly anticipate tomatoes in June, and become impatient in July, but with an unheated greenhouse and polytunnel, and the early cold snap just at sowing time, it is unrealistic to expect a copious crop until quite late in the summer.
But late summer has arrived, and look at today’s harvest: Discovery apples, to be eaten quickly, for they don’t keep or store, courgettes, patty pans, runner beans, French beans, and tomatoes in all shapes and sizes. We bought all sorts of interestingly-named varieties such as Amish Paste, Latah and Rose de Berne from the Real Seed Company this year, and the mixture of colours and shapes adds to the sense of profusion when we pick them.
There is basil with large leaves:
and still we have lettuces, red:
I love this time when the nights begin to draw in noticeably and make one think of autumn, yet the days are still full of sunshine, we are overcome with nature’s bounty in the form of frantically ripening crops, there are flowers yet in the garden, and I can hear the distant hum of the combine harvesters from morning until late at night, as they march majestically across the fields of golden corn. Now I am thankful that there is no rain – it is important to get the harvest in, and the Ploughboy is working fifteen hour days to that end.
This year some of my sunflowers have grown so tall that I can’t even see if they have blooms – I had to reach up to photograph this one – and it's one of the shorter ones.
Elderberries and brambles are ripening in the hedgerows, we can start to pick the Bramley apples, and it is the season for thinking about gathering and storing for the long winter.
One morning soon we will wake up and feel a certain chill in the air in spite of the sunshine, and see a heavy dew; someone will say that it is a real hop-picking morning, and then I will know that autumn is on its way, but for now I will enjoy the sunshine and the tomatoes, sitting outside every evening, drinking pink Discovery apple juice, and pretending that it can go on forever.