Help, I’m drowning!


It always happens. Every single year, about this time and no matter what I do or how I plan, the garden gets away from me. I know why, of course.

There’s this sort of thing around:

I can never resist wild food in such abundance (wildish food – the trees these came from are just outside the garden of some friends of mine in the next village). Last year – I think, it’s all a blur – we managed to pick 21 kilos without going anywhere near a ladder. I got 15 kilos this year without, too. There’s only one disadvantage to the eirin bach as a useful food crop – the speed with which they go off. You have to work fast and be prepared to deal with them almost as soon as you pick them, or at least I do. If I wait longer than a day, they start going mushy, developing brown spots and growing fur.

Jam. Lots of jam. Jam with a good slug of sloe gin in it, too. Just as well I save jars all through the year, especially as the chutney season hasn’t even started.

And I even grew some plums of my very own this year – well, Victorias:

A first for the tree, which is now looking decidedly stunned by the experience. In its first year I had four plums; last year I had two. This year it looked promising early on but I thought most would go in the summer drop. Er, no. I weighed 5 kilos for jam, but there have been more than that, though I had to race the wasps for the last few. And they taste good.

As if to compensate me for the Great Potato Blight of West Wales Incident earlier in the year, I’ve got loads of onions. The shallots came first, with a respectable crop picked in a relaxed and leisurely way on a lovely day,

then spread out to dry in the sun for several more days,

And plaited up into strings for storage.

And then the weather became much more changeable, and it was a few days before I could contemplate the onions. (It’s been a funny season; nothing has quite been ready when it ‘should’ be, and normally the shallots would have been well out of the way before I even thought about onions.) When I could get out in the veg patch again without a kagoul, wellies and an umbrella, quite a few of the onions had decided to grow flower spikes and some had gone the other way and rotted. So out they came; no waiting for them to go yellow and lie flat – though some were, of course, doing just that. Nothing has been predictable.

But a great crop, nevertheless:

Over a few days, I think they had enough sun. Sort of. Well, I plaited them up anyway,

because I’m lucky enough to have the ideal place to put them. When we were working on the house, I asked one of my friends to put a rod across the space where the boiler was (there had previously been a malfunctioning oil-burning stove in the space, but I had that out and constructed a shelf for my casseroles). I’d intended to use it for herbs, but it’s ideal for me halliums.

Quite a few of which have already been eaten.

As have the tomatoes, but they’re never ending. Admittedly some of the foliage is yellowing, and the rate of production of new fruit has slowed right down but, boy, are they fantastic.

Such a relief – I was beginning to doubt my tomato credentials after last year. Mind you, I think it’s time I bought some new seed. These are supposedly Black Russians, ahem, which were next to some Costuleto Fiorentinos when I saved the seed. Yersss.

Two of the other alleged Black Russians are equally bizarre crosses, except they are producing pink fruit. All right, they’re more bizarre. They’re ripe, they taste good, but they’re pink – though it doesn’t matter at all when they’re transformed into ratatouille or roast tomato passata:

My toms, my shallots, my garlic, my basil, but bought olive oil. Oh well, you can’t have everything…

And now the beetroot’s starting.

Both freezers are almost full. Maybe I can lay my hands on another. Not that I’m complaining, you understand, garden gods – no way. I’m just running out of space. And time. Again.


20 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh yummy! What a fabulous way to be overwhelmed. Your plaited onions look beautiful. I think I will be making roast passata soon too. Hope your plum tree has enjoyed the experience of producing actual plums so much that it becomes habit!

    1. kate says:

      Not as varied as your crop though – I’ve just got lots of a few things, really. I put some red wine into the last lot of my passata and it was fab, so I must remember to do that again – so useful.

      (The plum tree had better – there’s an unproductive greengage which is coming out and I may have scared the Victoria into production this year by discussing the gage with P when we were nearby. OK, that’s the men in the white coats knocking on the door.)

      1. The men in white coats wait for us all Kate, as we mutter and mumble around our kitchens and gardens, planning for next year when we still haven’t finished with this…

        1. kate says:

          So very, very true… but at least we’re not alone in our insanity.

  2. How productive Kate! – it all looks wonderful and I know where to come if I need to borrow an onion 🙂


  3. Mo says:

    Good harvests! 🙂

    1. kate says:

      Yerssss – but patchy. The snails have eaten my beans (so much for my blog title), the blight got me spuds and I’ve not got as many courgettes as I ought to have done, and now they’ve got mildew. Mind you, would definitely have needed that extra freezer if they’d not…

  4. Oo glad someone’s having plum glut problems same as me. (I’ll let you into a secret – I still have damson jam left from three years ago, should be good vintage by now)

    1. kate says:

      Thank heavens it’s not just me – I’ve just finished the 2009 vintage! Time for Bakewell tart and anything else you can cook with jam, perhaps…

  5. It all looks so wonderful! I can understand the being overwhelmed feeling, but you seem to have everything so well under control! Your shallots and onions look just super, love them all pleated hanging up like that. Just beautiful.

    1. kate says:

      Thank you very much (I do love the onion crop hanging there photogenically) – but you should see other parts of the kitchen. Agh! More tomato passata this morning, plus plum compote, plus beetroot for lunch, plus, plus, plus….

      I’ll look back at this in January and still order lots more seeds. I know I will.

  6. You are clearly exulting in those vegetables. Wonderful harvest and eating too.

    1. kate says:

      I am – but I’m a little bit exasperated with them too: what did they all have to do this at once? In (January planning) theory they should have been more spaced out!

  7. Janet says:

    Kate, don’t take out the greengage. Ring the bark not all the way round just halfway. Then do the other half further up or down the trunk(s). This is supposed to stress the tree enough to get it to fruit. We’ve told ours it’s the last chance saloon.
    Our Victoria plum had the most enormous crop in it’s second year. Then only 5. They seem to wear themselves out. We’ve got a bumper crop again this year. No thanks to us really. Your onions look great. Not just tasty but aesthetic too.

    1. kate says:

      That’s a great tip, and I think it might work – my mother once got a plant to behave by threatening it (she reckoned it was the threat, anyway), so I’ll give it a go. And then it really is out. Nothing to lose!

      (I’d better have words with the Victoria, too. I don’t want it going back to its old habits!)

  8. Oh my goodness! What a treasure trove.

    1. kate says:

      And it goes one… there’s a kitchen in my house somewhere, under tomatoes and plums… not complaining, not complaining, just saying…

  9. Not waving but drowning in produce over here too!

    1. kate says:

      And still it comes… agh….

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