Thursday, 1 October 2009

The first step is admitting you have a problem

I've noticed that the underlying theme of most of my posts is food - animal or vegetable, but always edible. I hope it's because this is harvest season, not because I am overly obsessed with eating. Or food. Or because I read and re-read cookbooks and our next meal is always on my mind. I'm wondering if I need to seek out a support group.

I might as well admit now that I went blackberry picking again, and made another 5 jars of jelly. I was doing some puppy training and it seemed efficient to multi-task as Spud needs less of my attention on walks. She used to look like this -

Just a fast moving blur. But she's beginning to look like this -

Although not usually that wet. But she's just worked out that she can fit her top half into the water bucket. I guess the tastiest water is at the bottom.

The weatherman has predicted a possible ground frost for tonight - our first - so I cleaned the greenhouse of the last of our tomato crop.

What a mess. Every year I promise to keep a tidy, disease-free crop of tomatoes and every year I let it run rampant. We had an excellent crop considering I failed to feed or water the plants regularly.

Once I stared pulling out plants I found examples of water staining, splitting, blossom end rot, blight, and a virus which was mutating the shape of the tomatoes. Oh, and a rat hole to round off the pest parade.

But no matter. There were plenty of tomatoes -

And the greenhouse is now clean for next year -

For the first time that I can remember, I enjoyed gardening again. They say never make your hobby your life's work and when I was head gardener, gardening was nothing but work. Growing my own tomatoes just for me, and tidying my own (albeit tiny) greenhouse felt really great. Different than gardening for a paycheck. It's revitalised my love of growing things.

Dakota agrees. She always keeps watch from somewhere where she can see if anyone is coming up the driveway, and it's comforting. She's excellent company as well as an effective 'early warning system'.

The greenhouse will get a final cleaning from the chickens. I left the door open and the chickens were already investigating, eating a few fallen tomatoes and hopefully any nasty bugs that may be in there. Chickens are both a blessing and a curse to the gardener. For all the good they do in the greenhouse now, they are also the reason I can't grow flowers in pots - once that was a Clematis, now it's their personal dustbath.

I also found a tub of potatoes that I forgot to dig up lurking behind the greenhouse , so I have another harvest of Pink Fir Apple potatoes to cook with. A good excuse for looking in the cookbooks again. I also have to find a recipe to use up my harvest of green tomatoes - anyone have any suggestions other than my 'fried' or 'chutney' options?


Pomona said...

Pigs might well eat them! So that is a sort of recipe - and what about the chickens? We also ripen them up on the mantel above the Aga - they often go red if they sit there for a few days.
I don't know if you saw my last blog post, but I am beginning to think that you are the only one who could guess what the picture is ...

Pomona x

Poppy Cottage said...

Ha Ha!! I think I have guessed it!!! Maybe Working at Collins has helped me on this one!!

How come from your wee greenhouse you got loads of toms but from my PT I got hardly any!!

When are you going to write this book!!!!!! I am starting to think I need serious help!!

See you soon.

Me x

Pomona said...

We are hoping to attract some of the wild pheasants into the orchard. I of course want them because I like to attract wildlife, but I have a horrid feeling that the Ploughboy and the Head Chef have ulterior motives, which I am not thinking about. I think perhaps I wasn't very clear in my wording as to which toy I meant - but Poppy C is going to send me a PIF, so it's quite serendipitous that she got there first!
We spend a lot of time thinking about food, too - I think you do as soon as you try to provide your own. And I suppose as humans have done throughout history, until relatively recently, because it was a matter of survival!
Sorry for the long comment - I can't email you back on your comments to me because of the no-reply thing on your profile!
Pomona x

Jennifer Montero said...

Hi Pomona - Oh! Thanks for the heads-up about the 'no comment' thing. I will figure out how to rectify that and you are welcome to email me direct. I really appreciate your comments by email or on the blog.

Pheasants are good eating, and good wild food. Have they got the aniseed mix in your bin? That's a definite attractor. The problem is when you get one or two in your yard and start giving them names. Then the battle lines are drawn in the family - the 'shoot it' side or the 'keep it, it's lovely' side. I don't envy your choice!


Pomona said...

I will have to investigate the aniseed - we have just scrounged some grain from the farm - we are allowed to take the sweepings from shed edges; last year it was mixed with beans where two piles merged, and the hens avoided the beans, which then started sprouting everywhere! As I have said before, I am the fluffy veggie in our family, and the rest are hearty meat eaters! I don't mind their eating meat, and wish that I were not so squeamish, which is pretty shameful for a farmer's daughter - I just don't want to make friends with what everyone is going to eat!

Pomona x

Jennifer Montero said...

The aniseed is the key, if you really want a yardful of pheasants. Did they eat the beans once they sprouted?

We have a rule - don't name it if you intend to eat it. Laying chickens get names, meat chickens get referred to en masse as 'meat chickens'. The lambs are a grey area.

I'm squeamish about things too. I cannot touch a fish. Period. Need gloves and tools and lots of 'ewwww' noises if I'm confronted with gutting a fish. Fur and feathers no problem, but fish make my skin crawl.