It’s that time of the year again. Ade is coming home from the plot every few days with armfuls of courgettes and marrows, peas and beans, beetroot and cabbages. The garden is equally generous just now, giving us berries and cucumbers, and the tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.
So I’m spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen, trying to preserve everything as best I can. The first jams have been made and stored (there’ll be more to come when the blackberries ripen) and I managed to tackle two huge marrows last week by making a batch of marrow and ginger chutney.
I under-estimated things last year when I thought I’d made enough jams and chutneys to last a year and we’d eaten the lot six months later. (Or rather Ade had eaten the lot. It’s not so much that he likes a spoonful of chutney with his cheese, more that he likes a light cheese garnish for his chutney!) So I’ll definitely have to up the ante this year.
Goodness knows where we’re going to store it all.
August, I have learned, is a month best spent in the kitchen rather than on the plot. Turn your back on the kitchen in August at your peril. While Ade skips up to the allotment for a quick water or tidy, before enjoying the rest of his weekend, I have found myself, forehead smacking repeatedly against the kitchen worktop, in increasing states of plant-provoked purgatory; ignore one glut for five minutes, and before you know it, a glut of something else has arrived.
Don’t get me wrong, you know I love cooking, but when you realise you have six bowls of tomatoes lying around the kitchen in varying degrees of ripeness and you’ve been chucking them into pasta sauces and salads like your life depends on it and you start to wonder what to do with them now that the freezer is already full of tomato soups and then the doorbell goes and your next-door neighbour is standing there, arms outstretched with two bags of Bramley apples he recently picked as a kind and generous offering to you and you thank him and think “That’s lovely, but today I’m meant to be dealing with the TOMATOES!” but you get side-tracked by the apples and end up baking them into some kind of tea-time treat as a welcome respite from all the tomato tomfoolery of late and upon retrieving the butter from the fridge you realise there’s actually half a marrow in there you were meant to be doing something with this week which somehow got forgotten amid Wednesday’s French bean deluge and then Ade returns from the allotment with a smile and another full colander of tomatoes, an even bigger marrow and some more French beans, THEN, my friends, you do start to feel a little bit frazzled.
The idea of taking on a second plot next year is currently making me weep. Not that I can indulge in weeping for long, I have tomato chutney to go and make afterall…
Our squash bed has gone berserk over the last couple of weeks with all the sunshine and rain we’ve had. The first courgette was plucked from the plant a week ago, and we harvested some of our marrows at the weekend, along with our delicious carrots and purple dwarf French beans which have a wonderful flavour (although they sadly lose their purple colour when you cook them!).
We also harvested the last of the cabbages which had unfortunately been left on the plot a little too long, and some little blighter had burrowed its way right through to the heart; we had to throw it away. Ah well… we’ve had a good innings on the cabbage front considering it was the first time we’d grown them.
Now I wonder what kind of marrow magic I might create in the kitchen this week….