Summer is over – the days are shrinking and we're huddling under the duvet when watching telly coz we're too stingy to turn on the heating. A good time to look back at my second year of novice gardening!
Potatoes – the Grow Your Own Carbs experiment worked a treat. I wholeheartedly endorse the tatties-in-a-bag method for lazy gardeners short on space:
- Fill an old compost bag or some sort of container with potting mix
- Bury the seed potatoes
- Wait four or five months (watering when necessary – here in Scotland you rely on the sky for that)
- Empty bag
- Eat your glorious tattie bounty!
I tell you what, if you can't afford skydiving there are cheap thrills to be had in growing potatoes in a bag because that suspenseful MOMENT of ripping open the bag and wondering if there'll be anything inside… that's gold, baby!
Silverbeet, a.k.a. Swiss chard – this tiny crop was my favourite of the whole summer. Every man and his dog seemed to grow it when I was a kid in Australia, but you rarely see it in the shops around here. It has a really iron-y kind of taste that makes the best pie with feta. I only chucked a few seeds in a pot so ended up with about half a cup of cooked silverbeet but it was so good. I could quite happily dig up the whole back yard and grow nothing but silverbeet.
Baby carrots – Another "chuck seeds in a pot, cover with dirt and wait" effort but somehow yoinking that first carrot out of the grown was so freaking triumphant you think we'd tended them daily, played Mozart and massaged their leaves. You can see them here for with one of the two strawberries we managed to grow.
Brussels sprouts – FAIL! Poor Dr G had been nurturing these babies from seed since New Year and once planted out they soon shot up well over four feet high… only to be gnawed to bits by the evil spawn of cabbage white butterflies. The butterflies has managed to infiltrate the mesh fortress he'd built around the plants, the bastards.
Spring onions – grew about a dozen of these from seed… seemed like an awful lot of faff for 12 bloody spring onions but of course we convinced ourselves they were the most mindblowing onions in the world EVAH. Shown here with a bar of chocolate for scale, wtf.
Blackcurrants – turns out that Ugly Brown Stick Thing I was threatening to rip out last December was a blackcurrant bush! By the time I remembered to pick them they'd started shrivelling up, whoops.
Butterhead lettuce – grew two in a pot and two in the ground. Slugs liked the ones in the ground but were too lazy to munch the potted ones. The lettuces had big fat tasty leaves perfect for rolling things up in. Generally food type of things.
Chillies – I grew two pots on a sunny windowsill indoors. The tiny wee Habaneros got chomped by some weird bug but these Hungarian Hot Wax fellas are doing well.
Buttercups – we didn't grow these deliberately; they just appeared in the lawn. But I have to tell you what Gareth said to me one day in June: "Do you know if you hold a buttercup under your chin and there's a yellow reflection on your chin it means you like butter?"
"What kind of bullshit is that?" was my elegant reply.
"It's true," said Dr G, "Well. We used to say it when we were kids."
"You did not say that. I know you're making it up and I'm not falling for it!"
"I am not making it up!"
"But it is completely ridiculous! It means you like butter?!"
"You're just mocking because you probably didn't even have buttercups in your barren Australian homeland. You probably said instead, If you hold this dry stick under your chin and there's a brown reflection it means you like… dirt!"
Turns out he wasn't making it up, it is an old wives' tale. It's still ridiculous though!
UPDATE: From your comments it's evident that everyone but me has heard of this bloody buttercup thing. Dr G is probably right with his theory of my ignorance – we didn't have any buttercups where I grew up… but lots of brown dead stuff
Leeks – this is where I just can't get over the wacky magic of growing stuff. I mean look at that tiny, tiny seedling… it was barely 2 centimetres high. Somehow those spindly little seedlings turned into big fat leeks. They were incredibly tasty… I dunno if it's coz they were good leeks or because I braised them in white wine, thyme and butter. Hehe.
Here's a leek fresh out of the ground, with a pint glass for scale. And on the right a pint of Dr G's homebrew, which would no doubt be the highlight of his summer!
Now all that's left are few parnsips in the ground, but apparently you have to wait til after the first few frosts before they're ready. Soon it will be all bare branches and grey skies. But it was a great summer at Crooked House with some yummy food without too much fuss! Next year I think I'll have a go at growing some flowers.
Any gardeners out there? How was your summer?
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