The Garden

I took the picture below to try and show the brown desert the garden has become, but paradoxically it doesn't look too bad. It is, however. Even stuff that is usually impervious to everything, like geraniums, are turning up their toes. I plant for drought as our village is "first with the wind and last with the rain" and this is the first year I've had a problem. I try and water only from the water butts, water only the vegetables and keep new plants to a minimum but even the butts have failed, and for the first time in eleven years here I've had to use a hose.

The grey things of course love this weather.

The butterflies alas don't seem to. Not one single Peacock or Red Admiral have I seen, and only a single Tortoiseshell. Normally the buddleia is teeming with them, but there's nothing. There are plenty of Whites, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, and Holly Blues (at least I think the ones below are holly blues) but none of the usual late summer ones at all: not even Painted Ladies, though I know they're migrants.

The rather bad photograph below has the pair of Holly Blues who inhabit the front garden; rather sweetly, they're always flying together.

I planted a cardoon last year, which has flowered, rather to my surprise. Quite why this took me by surprise I do not know: it's a thistle, and thistles have flowers, so what did I expect? Anyway, the bees and hoverflies love it.

The drought has had a fairly bad affect on my attempts at growing food. The potatoes are grown 80m from the nearest tap (as I now know now I've bought hose enough to reach the patch) but it's never been an issue before. It gave me something of an insight into what it must be like to battle to grow crops with no water, and a deep thankfulness that despite my much reduced crop, it's highly unlikely we'll starve.

The fruit, to my surprise, hasn't done at all badly despite the drought. Goodness knows what will happen next year. The plants must be severely stressed.

I forgot about the damsons until I walked into the ones below. When we first got to the house, damsons were the first thing to fruit, and all excited about this new venture, I made my first ever jam. It was a disaster. I had no sugar thermometer at that point, and used the cold saucer method to test for a set. Goodness, did my jam set. I did contemplate calling it damson cheese and making out that I had intended it that way, but whatever I called it, it was inedible. On Gardener's Question Time, Bob Flowerdew suggested putting jam out to attract ants away from your plants. An excellent way to use up my disaster, I thought. Not even the ants would touch it.

The pear tree is having a fantastic year, which is a bit of a shame as the pear is one of the few fruits I don't like.

Blackberries are fruiting already, to the excitement of the hens, who have a very large bramble patch in their hens. They become VTOL hens, leaping up to pick their own.

We're lucky enough to have a Cox's apple, which is an erratic fruiter, but any day now, they'll be ready.

Having had a bad year for garlic last year, this year was very good and I have tons. Cannot think what possessed me to plant quite so much. I have a dim memory of being told about a chicken dish that needed 40 cloves of garlic. That sounds like a recipe I need.


SusannaF said…
I try and do my own miniature home preserving from balcony plant pots, so am hugely envious of your harvest.

Have you got Jams, Preserves and Chutneys by Marguerite Patten? She is the shiz.
I've just been up to the allotment, where I thought I'd pull a couple of potato plants up for dinner. The lack of water has really had an effect. Funnily enough, I was thinking as I pottered about what it's like to try and grow crops in a dry climate. We take our usual summers for granted, I think. This has been a strange year for the allotment.

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