July was a very busy month for me. Work started on a new extension, and surgery at the end of the month knocked it out of me a bit. But even with out those events, July is always a busy month.
In recent years my fruit and vegetable garden has become really productive, and July is a month where just working in the garden and kitchen can keep a girl busy. Lots of things to sow, weed, feed, water, plant out, and of course harvest. I love bringing in the food.
There are some things that you just harvest as you need them, the garden becomes like another cupboard in your kitchen. Like making a crumble and popping out to pull an armful of rhubarb, or nipping out to snip a bayleaf, parsley and thyme to tie up a bouquet garni for a slow cook stew.
Then there are things that NEED to be picked everyday while they are in season to keep them productive, like mange tout peas and french beans and courgettes, if you skip picking for a day when they are really powering along, they become like triffids and you can be facing a glut. It still amazes me how much growth they can put on in 48 hours. In the rainy summer we've been having, the strawberries go from ready to mushy very quickly, so these too need to be picked everyday.
One of my favourite harvests is the soft fruit. Gooseberries are generally only harvested once, in one sitting. There is a window of a good couple of weeks, where they are ready and can be picked.
Its a sunny day job. Little Bee and i will get little chairs and sit below the bushes and pick and chat away. Inevitably she will remind me of how sharp the thorns are. She will remind me of how funny it was two years ago when i was bending over picking one bush and i backed onto another and let out a holler as I got pricked in the bum. She was three at the time and thought it was hilarious. Any mention of gooseberries since then, and she loves to tell the story.
The picking in the garden is very satisfying, but it isn't over at that. Food will be wasted if not dealt with efficiently. Gooseberries need topping and tailing, washing, bagging and freezing. Armed with a small scissors and my 7lbs of gooseberries took about an hour to top and tail.
Sometimes the occasional visitor makes his way in with the crops.
This snail was really really tiny,
and this little fella was extremely green.
I'm not sure which one of them was responsible for this very artistic.....
poo initial left on this gooseberry.
For me and my daughter, harvesting gooseberries never fails to dissappoint.