It feels like the end of the planting year, although I’ve only just put in some cabbage and spinach. The garden is definitely tired and slowing down. It’s almost at a point where I can catch up with it. Plus, with three big writing pieces out of the way and many of my students finishing their holidays, I can spend a little more time out there than usual. It doesn’t hurt that it’s back down to 26°C which is, dare I say it, almost comfortable.
The pears are very late to ripen, as are the apples. A late, long and wet spring ended in June with 17°C and me in my thermals at a firework display, then July appeared and we were at 30°C in four days. After that, it’s been an almost constant dry two months, with only a couple of days of rain here and there. And, as a consequence, the pears and apples are small still, and very hard.
It might not be apple season yet, and they are not the only thing that had a hard time going from cold and damp to dry and drought. The cucumbers, gherkins and pumpkins have also found it hard going. The tomatoes, however, a month later than usual, are coming into their own. It’s about now that I realise I had far too many cherry tomatoes and far too few roma plum tomatoes. I have 12 cherry tomato plants and so far they have given me 6 kg of cherry tomatoes.
Not that I mind.
I could eat tomato salad every single day for a month and not care. Tomatoes and basil. Tomatoes and olives. Tomatoes and onions. Tomatoes and mozzarella. Tomatoes and parmesan. Tomorrow night, cherry tomato tarte tatin with balsamic glaze.
I think there must be another 4 kg to come as well, at least.
On the other hand, I planted 6 salad tomatoes – ‘Alicante’. I gave a few away. Next year, I might not bother with salad tomatoes at all. In comparison to the others, they are watery and tasteless. Fine for sandwiches, but then I’d still prefer some of the other varieties I’ve got.
The roma tomatoes are also coming to ripen, though later than the cherry tomatoes. I had 12 roma plants and I’ve had 2kg so far. 5 tins worth of plum tomatoes. I think there are another 10kg or so to come though. Next year, I’m doubling or even tripling the roma tomatoes, now I’ve got my cauldron for sterilising and canning.
I bought 3 Black Crimea tomato plants at a plant fair and they are also giving me good tomatoes. I’ve had a kilo from them so far and lots more to come. I’ve loved these and I will definitely be growing these instead of (or alongside) the Alicante tomatoes. Much better for sandwiches. I do find myself missing strong, sharp cheddar at this time. What I wouldn’t give for some mature cheddar, and not the over-priced, tasteless supermarket cheddar that some French supermarkets have taken to selling. It kind of does if you are really in need of cheddar, but it is totally not the same. And cheese was the basis of so many great sandwiches. Comté isn’t up to the job. Emmenthal is so bland I never buy it any more. Goat’s cheese cries out for something sweet and acidic, but crunchy – not a tomato. It’s seriously the only thing I yearn for.
I will definitely be saving some heirloom seeds from the Black Crimea. It’d be nice to have a wider range of tomatoes next year. I grew five types (Gardener’s Delight cherries, which are beautiful; Alicante; Roma; Marmande, and then the Black Krims) and I think I want to up my range. I am such a tomato fan. I could have a freezer full and it would give me joy all year.
The kale is also coming on great guns. It has loved the warm, dry shade the most. The plants in full sun all day are much smaller than the boys at the back. I’ve had 200g of leaves so far, but the plants are just beginning to start to zoom.
The swiss chard is also doing well.
Of my 250kg target for the year, I have so far harvested:
2.5 kg sprouting broccoli
4.5 kg cherries
2.1 kg broad beans.
1kg runner beans
12 kg plums
4 kg potatoes
That’s 41.8kg so far.
I am getting to the point when I realise just how ambitious I was. Still, got about 10kg of pears, about the same in quince, 150 vines’ worth of grapes, 40 kale plants, carrots, beetroot, cabbage, leeks, beans, tomatoes, courgettes, potatoes, walnuts, hazelnuts and peppers to harvest. If I can’t get to 125kg, then I might cry! Would it be totally wrong to go and pick 10kg of wild blackberries? Hopefully not, because I’m planning on it!
Still, some of the crops I was counting on for more have not put forth. Pumpkins would be one of those. I’ve had nothing but male flower after male flower. I need to do some serious research about soil and weather conditions to get those babies into productive mode. Whatever I’ve been doing has not been right for them.
But I am so totally weird, I am getting excited about next year. I need to fast forward a little through autumn and winter.
On the other hand, though, it will be totally lovely to have a break. Even if it is a cold and wet break.
I had a message from a young Aussie Helpxer who wanted to know if I was taking anyone in October. I looked at the last few years’ blog posts and realised that it’s such a hit-and-miss month. Last year, it seems to have done little but rain (wonder if I’ll get any more lucky with mushrooms? I have marked out my trompettes de la mort site very carefully… and there are already reports of ceps being found, along with chicken of the woods) but in years before, it’s not really started to get cooler or wetter until the last week or so in October. I wonder what this year will bring? I could do with a long, slow, warm autumn. That would suit me just fine.
What do you think are my chances of getting it?
It is my Mum’s birthday today, by the way, so happy birthday dear Mother. I’m glad you haven’t weighed your produce because I know you will have outgardened me. I can only dream of your productivity. I found her a little vintage gift that I hope she likes; I don’t know why it reminded me of her, but it did.