Saturday, 6 August 2011

From decorative to productive: a garden story

(If you are looking for the giveaway, you will find it in the post below - it closes tomorrow (Sunday), so this is your last chance to enter.)

It might only be the first week in August, but here in the sunny south-east where one would have expected a high summer air about the place, the garden is taking on more of an end of summer feeling - and as I look out of my window at the grey skies and raindrops, the weather is definitely not summery at all.

Sunshiney sweetness in a jar
Luckily we managed to capture a bit of sunshine in jars, in between the showers of June.

Marigolds on the wane

So although many of the flowers are past their best, and the marigolds are running to seed faster than I can deadhead them, there are lots of edible bonuses to make up for the decline in prettiness.

Sweet juicy plums
It has been a difficult year for growing, with sunshine and drought in May, too much rain and not enough sun in June, and a cold, grey July. 

Green runner beans
But somehow the green fuse has ignited and the kitchen garden is keeping the Head Chef well supplied with produce, and the B&B guests have been able to enjoy the fruits of his labours outside.

Courgettes yellow and green

I like to grow both green and yellow courgettes - I am not sure that there is a huge difference in flavour, but the colour combination looks lovely on the plate.

Stubby little cucmbers
We have multicoloured and multi-shaped cucumbers, too - small, stubby green ones (Marketmore by name).

Lemon cucumbers
And little, round yellow lemon cucumbers - both sorts have so much more flavour than the long thin green ones in the shops.

Rather measly garlic crop
They make for a heavenly tasting tzatziki mixed with homegrown garlic and homemade yogurt - and I can pretend that really I am on holiday in sunny Greece, rather than working at home in grey and damp Old Blighty.

Lovely red tomatoes
In the absence of a Mediterranean climate, the polytunnel has proved its worth this summer. The outdoor tomatoes are ripening only very slowly, but the indoor ones have more than made up: plum, cherry, salad and beef tomatoes, we have them all - even aubergines, too.

More plums
We have plums to make spicy plum chutney (the recipe is here), and jam for our B&B guests to put on their toast. So many guests have asked to buy our jam over the past year that we are busy making extra quantities to keep up with demand.

And there is still lots of lettuce - the successional sowing has been a great success in keeping up supplies. What else? Kohl rabi, and carrots, beetroot and herbs, onions and potatoes - and apples for jelly and juice for those hearty breakfasts the Head Chef serves up so skilfully each morning.

And next on the preserving agenda is hedgerow jam: there are blackberries in the hedgerows, and elderberries ripening fast, so even if you don't have your own garden, perhaps you might be able to scavenge some from the roads and fields - the recipe is here if you want to make your own.

So the preserving pan beckons, and a very interesting book to look at, thus I must bid you all adieu.


Rosa-Munda said...

Great looking garden produce, and some interesting crops (never heard of lemon cucumber before!) I have an abundance of Victoria plums so have saved the link to your delicious-sounding receipe. Ros x

millefeuilles said...

Hello! I have just returned from green, damp Blighty and although I have not taken the time to post on my blog I simply had to pop over and see yours. It's great to be back ;-)

Fantastic garden produce worthy of the great garden goddess.

andrea creates said...

it all looks delicious!
our tomatoes are just starting to ripen-love eating from our own garden :)

Twiggy said...

What a gorgeous home grown post !! My tomatoes are pretty sad this year, the weather has been strange hasn't it? I love a bowl full of different varieties of homegrown tomatoes - just lovely!!
I'm gearing up to go blackberry picking next month - I love blackberry jam.
twiggy x

Mousy Brown said...

It's funny I went for my walk with the dog today and felt exactly the same - that the season is turning and there are hints of Autumn everywhere. Lucky you to have all the yummy produce, I thought our little patch was doing well but not compared to yours! Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Em xx

Annie said...

Such abundance! And the book looks fascinating :D

Mrs. Micawber said...

This makes me miss the big garden we USED to have! My garlic crops never satisfied me either. A lot of space for a relatively small yield. Those plums are beautiful, and I love the name "lemon cucumber". It sounds like a delicious skin-care product.

If Mr. M and I ever make it back across the pond we are staying at your B&B!

WandaFish said...

Congrats on some lovely looking produce! Our little veggie patch has not done well at all this year. One cucumber, no courgettes and a pitiful crop of cherry tomatoes. Peas and beetroot have done well but we're still waiting for runner beans too.
Signs of autumn are all around, including ripe blackberries! Thanks for the hedgerow jam recipe - I will be trying to have a go at that :)

harmony and rosie said...

Your produce looks wonderful, despite Mother Nature's poor offering in the weather department this summer and I am also looking forward to a spot of foraging, there are so many apples up for grabs and we've already been feasting on blackberries. I'm afraid it's a rarity keeping enough to make jam with - not with my blackberry fiends for company anyway!

Little Blue Mouse said...

What a wonderful variety of produce!
I love the idea of lots of different tomatoes.
I would never have thought that was a cucumber if you hadn't said.

Gypsy and Nell said...

It makes all the hard work worth while doesn't it, it's such a great feeling growing and harvesting your own food. I've never made jam, maybe this year?.....

Lisa said...

Your garden is full of such healthy delights. I bet your jam is so scrummy.
I've noticed so many ripe blackberries this last week as we've been out and about.
Lisa x

Catherine said...

Actually I suppose it's too late now that you've lifted your garlic but I bought some dried garlic flower heads form our organics shop a while back & they were marvelous i just crumble them in to things..milder flavour & no chopping! We call ours "apple" cucumbers ..well much the same thing..everyone grew them back in the day over here along with the spuds & the runner beans. I have never thought of adding the elderberries to the hedgerow jams/jellies..thanks. I made 3 different pastes this autumn including quince..soo delicious with great cheese & crisp apples. I would love to come & stay, oh YES please..just a little distance thing to contend with : ( Love C X

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

All your recipes sound so yummy.I think I'll try the plum jam, having just made a batch of apricot jam its always fun to try something different.
We've been blessed with lots of sun, relentless heat and a wee bit of rain... I'm up to the neck in tomatoes... sauce anyone?
Have a great week.
Susan x

elizabethm said...

Garlic has always been tricky for us too. Good onions this year though. All looks very productive

Shirleyanne said...

What wonderful looking produce! Nothing quite like home grown veg! Home made preserves aswell. You really have done well!

PinkCatJo said...

Yummy - something to look forward to during the cold dark days of winter.

Our garden is also looking rather end-of-summery. The hydrangeas are looking very tired. :0( x

Katy Cameron said...

Oh that all looks yummy, very jealous of the head chef getting to play with all this!

greenrabbitdesigns said...

The seasons really are all over the place, aren't they!
Your produce all looks so lovely and definitely no shop bought ever has the taste of home grown.
Vivienne x

Amy said...

It all looks so good! Tomatoes here are still green. I have never seen those lemon cucumbers either. I like your different names for things the zuchinni and summer squash. Speaking of which, I have a really good recipe for Chocolate Zuchinni Cake. Perhaps the Head Chef would like to try it?

Isobel said...

Wow, Pomona!! What an amazing productive garden you have!! Oh my, so many yummy crops!

Barbara said...

Getting hungry already!


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