Vegtastic Six on Saturday

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:

Iraqi pickles

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.

33 thoughts on “Vegtastic Six on Saturday

  1. I think ragwort is like a marmite plant. I have spent a few summer days pulling it out of hay fields and horse paddocks. It does spread profusely, it would be okay it if kept itself tidy to borders!

  2. Despite the extreme drought, you will indeed have a rich harvest this year 🙂 Of course it takes some work but you also have enough supplies 🙂
    The flowers in your garden are also doing fine and I think the insects are doing well find a filled table. Have a nice Sunday and many greetings Sel.

  3. Are your cucumbers in the Iraqi pickles recipe more of a sweet taste or a vinegary sour taste? Can’t you also adapt this with courgette since you have a lot?

    1. They are more sour – cider vinegar and no sugar, but with spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, tumeric (curcuma)…I had not thought of pickling courgettes, that’s a good idea!

  4. You are right to think of drought tolerant plants, maybe something like a border of golden marjoram to delineate your bed. It is very drought tolerant, great for the bees, and very easy to propagate.

    1. I’ve never grown golden marjoram but it sounds like a lovely idea, nice to have a golden colour to contrast other things with too. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Nice to see the combination of wild flowers and cultivated Sel. And your produce looks (and I’m sure tastes) fantastic. Yes, the recurring drought conditions are not looking promising. Thankfully we have a big underground rainwater tank and a 350-litre one to catch the rain off the carport. Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thanks Denzil, am jealous of your underground rainwater tank! We were just discussing the possibility of putting one under the lawn (meadow really) the other day.

  6. I’m afraid we must all consider moving towards drought-tolerant plants. We have quite a few which are now struggling here and are not inclined to water except those in pots as we depend on our own well and there is always the fear of it running dry – it hasn’t ever happened but… Vegetables have had a good year here also. Broad beans bought the biggest challenge and there was a massive falafel day here and another for hummus. It was a fabulous year for garlic for some reason. Hedge around your herbs? Might you be planting something which will struggle in the dry conditions – or be careful with your choice of hedging plant?

    1. It’s a tricky transition as who knows if next summer will be like this one or the humid blight-ridden one of 2021? I am thankful for the plants that seem to cope with both! Will try to find something tough for the hedge. Btw I love the idea of a massive falafel day.

    1. Gosh I think that’s it, I don’t remember buying one but maybe is was mislabelled! As you say, it’s huge and too big for my garden too, it looks silly. Will move it to the allotment.

  7. Your produce looks lovely and I envy you, though I know it takes a lot of work to grow fruit and veg. I find the wild oregano spreads everywhere here, but the pollinators love it. Why not plant a low hedge of lavender to border your herb garden? Fits in with the theme, or even chives or sage? Both make a nice low hedge. I’m a little concerned about all this encouragement to grow drought tolerant plants as we are also promised wetter and longer winters. I know for a fact that plants that like a dry well-drained soil hate a wet one, which is why I lose so many plants over the winter.

    1. I’ve only really appreciated just how much hard work veg growing is this year, with the allotment. I haven’t even had time to write about it properly. Really like your idea of a lavender hedge, that would look so pretty, or indeed sage which grows surprisingly well here on clay and all (unfortunately my chives look miserable at the moment). Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Your vegetable garden is a success, even more so with the strange weather. I’ve noticed a lot of the herbs are quite drought tolerant but my oregano and lemon balm spread and self seed a lot. Still, I cannot complain too much because they are attractive to the insects. Amelia

    1. Thank you Amelia, yes the veg have been enjoying the heat, and of course they get priority in the queue for water! I also have lemon balm around the garden, it does indeed spread around (although not my oregano strangely enough).

    1. Yes maybe I’m getting carried away thinking every summer will be like this. I think the climate experts were predicting one in three summers of drought. It’s hard to plan for, you are right.

  9. I’m not sure I’d want more hedge competing for water with the herbs. Better to get rid of the bit on one side perhaps, plant more of the good stuff.

    1. Interesting perspective. I am loathe to get rid of it though, having waited a good few years for it to form – and avoiding both box blight and the caterpillar so far!

  10. Wow your harvest is amazing! And can you share your Iraqi pickle recipe? So looking forward to helping you eat some of this 😊 very soon! Xx

    1. Thanks Glada! I too am looking forward to you helping ne eat all this bounty and cook it too – hee hee I think you like cooking more then I do, I just like the result! I need to write out the recipe but if you make pickles already then it’s easy. Cider vinegar, water, cloves of garlic, spices including turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, mustard seeds, peppercorns and a pinch of salt. You can try them when here 😊

  11. Impressive haul from the allotment!! I’m normally not a pickle person, but when I saw yours, my eyes popped out of my head. They just knew those would be delicious! Is it a secret recipe? And how did you grow such an impressive cabbage without bugs getting it? I’ve never succeeded and rarely attempt cabbage anymore. I know some gardeners cover the heads with mesh or something. But we have a bug called an earwig which get in everywhere and ruin cabbage and other things. How wonderful that you have the oregano and other food for the pollinators. I love the idea of the herb garden in place of the food garden, now that you have the allotment. I look forward to seeing how it grows over time. — Sorry for late commenting… sometimes I’m tardy but I always try to catch up. 🙂 I love seeing your garden.

    1. Thanks Lisa, total beginner’s luck with the cabbage as this was my first one, no doubt the bugs will find out and come next time! The pickles were a great success, just good cider vinegar and nice spices – I didn’t boil the cucumbers so they remained wonderfully crunchy but I think this means they have a shorter storage life and have to be kept in the fridge.

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