The Return

As one year begins (that’d be the school year) another one ends (that’d be the harvest year) and most of my garden jobs have been about cutting back bushes, trimming hedges and mowing the heck out of the lawn just in case it rains throughout September and I don’t get to do it again. A few things to harvest, the plots to dig over and that will be that. I’ll be back to the beginning again.

It does feel funny to think that summer is on its way out. This is the weather forecast here for the week…

weather_Sept_3_2013No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is a 33°C day today. But as you can see, with 9°C at night, it’s been quite fresh too. I love days like that. I can get a good three hours in during the morning where it is lovely and cool – jumper weather, even. And then in the afternoon, I can retreat to a delightfully cool house. The last few mornings, it’s been 19°C in the bedroom, and that is just about perfect. These are my favourite days. Blue skies. Warm evening. Neither too hot nor too cold. Nice to get into bed at night. Nice to be warm in the afternoons.

I’m still harvesting tomatoes and today – miracles will never cease! – I found the tiniest pumpkin ever. I’m wondering if the soil hasn’t been rich enough or damp enough for them? Everybody else’s seem to be really far on by now. I picked 6kg of pears today and noticed that the quite poor showing of peaches is gearing up to be quite a good showing of peaches. This is good. I finally know what to do with them. I made peach chutney last year with a Women’s Institute recipe and it lasted about 7 months. It has been a hot favourite for helpxers. It’s seriously good with a chunk of baguette and some cheese or ham.

This is good, because they’re what’s known as pêche de vigne or vine peaches. Let’s just say they aren’t those whopping great peaches from the market that are really good to eat. No. These are tiny little ones that are hard right up to the last minute and then ripen super-quick. I have both types – the white-fleshed ones which the Swiss call pêche de vigne and the red-fleshed ones which the French call pêche de vigne. They are both late to ripen, which is kind of good. If I had to pick them all right now, I think I’d collapse. I have never seen anything like this fruit out of France though.

Both the white and red varieties are clingstone peaches, which means they are hard to get off the pit. They also have thick skins which aren’t particularly nice to eat. They’re kind of sour too. So… peach chutney is the best thing for them. That way I can enjoy them without wanting to throw them all away.

I noticed today that the grapes are ripening up nicely too. I wouldn’t think they’ll last til the end of the month.

Other than that, I am waiting for a little of the rain that the weekend promises so that I can dig up my beetroot and some potatoes. I planted a couple of rows of spinach and a couple of rows of winter cabbage last week, and the winter cabbage are just beginning to show their first leaves. I love those first brassica leaves. They’re so distinct.

It’s a month of eating whatever I bring in from the garden. Yesterday was aubergines, so I had aubergine and chickpea curry – the best vegan dish ever in my opinion. I have a handful of roma tomatoes, so they went into the sauce. The day before was roasted cherry tomato and aubergine soup. I’ve not really got the full quotient of ratatouille vegetables given my poor performing cucurbits. It’s obviously a brassica year this year.


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.

200g peas

1kg runner beans

14 kg plums

4 kg potatoes

2kg sweetcorn

12kg tomatoes

1 kg kale

3kg courgettes

500g blackcurrants

500g redcurrants

2kg strawberries

2 kg blackberries

That’s 50.3kg so far. Getting to 100kg seems like a faraway dream right now. Hopefully the grapes are REALLY heavy.

At the very least, though, it gives me a target for next year. Anyway, today is a busy school day, as it is the beginning of the school year. Tomorrow also crazy busy. Friday, I’ll be out in the rain by the look of it. Is this the end of the glorious summer that August turned out to be? – well, after the storms of course!

2 thoughts on “The Return

  1. These pêches de vigne sound quite interesting. I had never heard of them. It is better than no peach at all. Peach would not grow here but fortunately, southern Ontario (the Niagara area) is a big peach producing area so they are easily accessible. The season is always too short though.
    I have a lot of grapes and Damsons that have been waiting in the kitchen for quite a while. I will have to get my act together and do something with them. Perhaps plum chutney as we have all the jam we need. I have also started to make apple sauce but only have only 2 pots so far.

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