Last lap

Surrounded by bounty tonight. Two vases of flowers (lilies, penstemons, sweet peas, scabiosa) and the meal included just about every part of the garden: flat yellow beans, climbing French beans and mint. Garlic, onions, the first crop of pink fir potatoes, parsley and sage to go over the chicken and pancetta.
I am writing this from the vantage point of the 1st of September. All August I promised myself to tidy up my London garden notes and get everything in order. But did I do it? No. So here, belatedly is the news from the food factory in late July.
More peas still on the plants and the corn is roaring away. I brought the old rug from the Primrose Hill flat to use as a mulch for the end of the plot. It’s mightily synthetic and ghastly, but turned upside down it should do a good job of keeping out the brambles and weeds.
Inspecting this end of the garden I can happily say that the artichokes are taking off. They will go to the French house eventually, but right now they are having their summer watering in London. The lilies and little seedlings are well watered too. I had them at the back of the shed on a little table; but there they were suffering from neglect. Amazing how something out of sight really is out of mind when you have so many other chores to do. Hopefully Sotaris will look after them a bit while I’m away.

At the other end of the garden the beans are in all their glory. So many pods that I actually cut an entire bucketful of beans.
And the flower patch is looking lovely. I find it hard to cut everything for the vases, but understand now why Sarah Raven called it a cutting patch. You have to be ruthless and accept that everything you plant should be Flowers For The House.
And what of the potatoes? Well, it has been a bumper year with all this rain and I have all of the pink fir potato crop still to go (if they don’t get attacked by blight or slugs). I wish I could weigh the amount I dug up today, but I had to use the wheelbarrow to get them to the car which should tell you that all is well on the carbohydrate front in the family. Washing them was a laborious task. But I wanted to leave them in good condition in their Hessian sack over the summer.

To accompany the potatoes and beans I actually picked a few beetroot for dinner (small size, but so juicy) and lifted three small carrots just for the fun of it. They certainly thrive in their wooden wine box with soft compost. But I don’t think they will get enough water over the summer to create a crop in September.

There is also kale and salad in abundance and the parsnips and celeriac have survived their hard start and are putting on growth.

The cucumbers need tying in – they will be ready in August, so I mustn’t plant them again next year in the London garden. There is a growing list of proscribed vegetables now. The corn is also a wasted effort. They will be woody or even absent by the time I return. And the tomatoes will be slug fodder only. Just one small tomato was ripe this week, not enough to warrant all that work.

I was musing on all this waste as I did a few last laps of the long garden. The sunflowers right at the end of the plot in front of the water butts have reached waist height and as I was admiring them I moved over and cut even more French beans that I didn’t spot the first time. Just changing the angle of your viewing reveals more produce. Perhaps I should plant purple ones next year.

And that brings to an end the first half of the year’s garden work. I felt a bit guilty for leaving everything to the mercies of the London weather for a whole month. There will be a mountain of weeds to tackle when I return. But at least so many crops have been a success. If I was ruthless I would only grow broad beans, peas, potatoes and perhaps some early French beans next year. I need to concentrate on getting the other garden going. And just four crops is more than enough.