It looks like this is going to go down as one of the driest summers in Europe – so far, I say with trepidation. Despite the lack of rain, the allotment harvests have been incredible. I can hardly keep up with processing all this food in the kitchen. It’s hard work, of the old-fashioned sort, but I haven’t had to go out and buy fruit or veg for a couple of weeks now (except for lemons!).
So I have been playing domestic goddess this week. First, it was the cucumbers, in such numbers that salads and yoghurts weren’t going to be enough, so I made pickles – following an Iraqi recipe passed down from a great aunt on my Mum’s side – think beautiful earthy spices and whole garlic cloves:
Then, courgettes and tomatoes were concocted into freezable pasta sauces. A Savoy cabbage (my first home grown one!) was rolled and stuffed with rice, herbs and spices. I even made a few jars of blackberry jam. At some point, soon, I’m going to hang up the apron and refuse to go into the kitchen – except to make a cup of tea.
I had better move on to the garden, which hasn’t had a lot of attention from me lately. After my trip to England and my garden visits, I have been thinking about drought-tolerant planting. This patch of oregano next to the terrace does very well with no watering at all, and is such a magnet for bees and butterflies.
I’m slowly turning what used to be the veg patch (pre-allotment) into a sort of herb garden. I’m moving herbs in pots – rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon verbena – into the ground, and adding orange and violet toned flowers in between. What do you think about planting more dwarf hedging around the other three sides to make it look more coherent?
I can’t remember the name of this yellow-flowered plant that’s up next, it just kept growing and growing, now it’s over two metres tall and blocking the Miscanthus and flowering currant behind it. Its flowers are also facing the wrong way – I think it’s in the sunflower family and is turning towards the sun over the top of the hedge.
Next up is this Begonia ‘Picotee Sunburst’. I do not usually like Begonias. I had three, neglected them, two rotted over winter, and this one survived and is flowering profusely. I am starting to like it.
More late summer colour from Senecio jacobaea, or Ragwort, which arrived of its own accord in the garden but blends nicely with daisies, and before that feverfew. It’s a food source for a huge range of insects, including Cinnabar moth caterpillars, which are sadly in rapid decline. It’s also one of the most frequently visited flowers by butterflies, and over 200 species of invertebrates have been recorded on it, according to The Wildlife Trusts. Poisonous to livestock and horses when accidentally included in hay, it’s had a lot of bad press in the UK, but I’m happy it’s here (where there are no horses or livestock!).
That’s all from me for this week. Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, who is in France this week. Thanks for reading, and have a good weekend.