Bumper crops of everything – such a contrast to last year
WHAT a wonderful thing it is to pick and eat a tomato, on a sunny morning that has brought out the scent of the tomato, as much as the flavour of the fruit.
I've been out harvesting, and enjoying the sense of abundance that there can be at this time of year. Everywhere I look on the allotment, there is something to pick. The raspberries and currants have been good, and now the first plums are just ready too.
The week has arrived when biting into them is a definite pleasure, rather than a tentative one, and this means that we have two weeks at most, in which to make the most of them. After that, they are better for jam and wine making than eating fresh, but for the next fortnight we shall have the joy of plums.
This fine summer also means we shall have the joy of potatoes, onions, garlic, peas, beetroot, beans, courgettes, and salads galore. I think that our first long carrots are just about ready to pull, too, and behind those I can see that the parsnips are flourishing. And then there are the herbs, the flowers in our 'bee bed', and the dye plants that are clearly enjoying the sunshine.
It is all such a contrast to last year, when most crops really struggled, and some failed altogether. By this point in the summer, blight had seen off tomatoes and potatoes, and I remember our onions coming out more or less the same size as they went in. Each week of dismal weather was hard work, as a gardener, and doubly so, as I tried to think of something positive to write in my column each week.
So, it is with real joy that I look about this morning and see such abundance that I could choose almost anything to write about, and there would be plenty to say. Clutching a fresh bunch of beetroot, that is in such good condition that the leaves look glossy, I realise again how lucky I am to be living here and now. This good feeling must only be a shade of what people in the past, who were self sufficient because there was no alternative, must have felt, come harvest time.
It's a feeling to make the most of, because autumn is surely on its way. As potatoes and other crops are harvested, and leave space, it's time for leeks and other winter crops to be moved in.
Late autumn providers, such as pumpkins and squashes, will probably be hungry for a feed, and eager for more water than they've managed to collect from rain alone in the past few weeks. I shall be turning my attention to those, in order to get the most from a second fruiting. The first winter squash are already harvested, which is a record this year.
Sprouting broccoli, savoy cabbages and kale plants have already grown to record size too; this is really a season to remember for all the right reasons.