You’d have thought I was sprinting for an Olympic medal to see me dashing down the garden yesterday. Ok, it was more of a fast shuffle with arms waving wildly to keep my balance as I navigated bumps and slopes in my garden clogs but speed was on my mind. I simply had to reach the kitchen garden before any rabbits, pukekos or other wildlife did. The gate was ajar making it open house in my backyard pantry. I could barely dare to look. To see the damage. The nibbles, the missing crops and tell-tale signs of wildlife in need of a juicy meal.
But no, it seemed the garden was safe and my worst fears for potential devastation unfounded. No obvious signs of vermin plundering my stocks. Just young cabbages and cauliflowers wiggling in the light breeze. Beans dripping from their poles and bees buzzing on the flowers. Sheer relief.
It’s not that I don’t like sharing my vegetable bounty. My neighbours are regular garden raiders but to think that I was feeding the wild menagerie who know little about portion control or what’s ready for harvest or not just filled me with dread. Thankfully we’ll still be picking over the harvest for many more weeks and with new seedlings just planted out we’ll hopefully have plenty going through the winter too. Although root vegetables have been a nightmare to germinate in the dry weather so I might have to resort to buying parsnips and carrots this year which seems odd and very unsatisfactory.
The great tomato sauce making marathon starts this week. Tray upon tray of tomatoes roasted in the oven, ground through the moulis and stashed into the freezer for the rest of the year. In the past I’ve blanched and frozen beans and peas but this year we’ve been munching them as we go so I’m hoping for a final sowing to produce enough for the freezer. The less said about the courgette mountain the better although surpassed this year by the cucumber glut. This year I grew some rather stylish cucumbers which are fun and frivolous and very tasty. So much so I’ll make a special blog post about them soon.
After the misery of last year’s gardening I’m much more philosophical this year. I’ve come to learn that there is no such thing as a perfect kitchen garden and nature must take its course. Seeds are unpredictable. Weather is your friend and foe. And horror of horrors, a little weedkiller on the paths will save you days of backbreaking effort and free you up for the fun stuff, especially the picking and eating.