The Day after the Marrow II

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Well I came back from my holidays to 16.5kg of marrow and they’re still coming thick and fast. What to do with this courgette nightmare?Perhaps one plant will be enough next year.

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bean tops

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A thunderstorm passed through a few hours ago, you wouldn’t believe how dark it got in the kitchen about 6pm.

But now it’s the calm after the storm, there is a softness in the earth and bird song.

Sometimes walking in the garden I think I can see things growing, like the turnips and lettuce.
It’s all in my imagination *he said to make himself sound sane to anyone reading*  but it’s such a soft day now that you know the vegetables and herbs are soaking it all in, the rain and nutrients and whatever else makes things grow.

I pinched the tops off my broad beans, they books say to do this when they come into flower so that the energy goes into making the beans. It was as nice task because broad  beans smell lovely. A few books suggest to cook them if they aren’t over run with blackfly, which they weren’t so I made a risotto.
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It looked better than it tasted truth be told, not because of the bean tops but because I haven’t yet mastered the art of making onions soft and transparent without letting them get brown. The crunchy onions ruined it for me, though it still tasted nice. It ruined it because I was kicking myself for not getting the oni0ns right. In my defence I was distracted by counting the time between flashes of lightning and the sound of thunder, calculating that the thunderstorm must be directly above Barna now or out in Galway Bay. It was also pitch black.
If you don’t cook much you’d be amazed how often the recipes tells you not to let  onions brown. It seems like a simple thing but my oven hobs are crazy and want to char anything that touches them, even at the lowest setting.

So there you go, pay attention to softening your onions and don’t throw out your broad bean tips.

Better to have gardened and lost than to have never gardened before

I spent hours today digging out two stubborn, rickety old bush stumps to free up space for vegetable beds and basically because I didn’t like them. It was a good day for it. Not too cold or not too warm. Not too windy but a nice little breeze.
Working in the garden can go either of two ways for me.

1 I enjoy it
2 I get frustrated.

Digging in this garden makes me a little sad. It could be a great garden, I imagine corners filled in with kale and sunflowers, our picnic table painted and friends around for a picnic (I have to imagine friends as well because I don’t have any friends here yet) I imagine onions drying out or frames with French beans. I think of blackcurrant bushes and perpetual spinach.

What makes me sad is that I know it is not my garden and that by the time it will be getting into the swing of things our time here will be up. Being a joint congregation with the Methodist church means that you might only be here 7yrs or extended to 10yrs or a little more.
7yrs seems like a long time, but it’s nothing if I plant an apple tree now. By the time it would be producing more than a few apples we will have to move on.
Then there is the emotional attachment to the ground you have worked.
Just like some artists find it hard to part with their paintings, something unique that they have made I’ll find it hard to part with a garden I’ve help create.
Of course no one knows what the next 10mins will bring never mind the next 10yrs. Still, it does make me a little melancholic and sad pulling up stumps and moving soil, wondering where I should put the apple trees.
Better to have gardened and lost than to have never gardened before?
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flying snow

There is sleet sliding down the living room window, wind blowing down the chimney, silence in the house. My thoughts are grim.

There is so much broken around me,broken in me.

Someone called to the house last week, a single parent . Watching him drive off with the kids I thought how black and heart-breaking to loose someone you love but have to carry on, carry on, carry on picking up the pieces carrying on for the kids.

Thinking about it some more there are many single parents in ‘our place’. Then there are those who are currently separated from children not through choice, but because of having to flee persecution in their native land.
Imagine not seeing your children for many years ? Then imagine not being able to afford bring them over when free?
Then you keep picking up other bits of sadness  from an infinite sea and adding them together. Imagine that happening? What if that happened?
Spotting some report about the threat of bird flu on the corner of a website or wondering how we will cope whenever death comes makes me feel ill. Basically it’s scary out there. Basically I wonder how we’ll cope.

I appreciated reading this  Wendell Berry poem the other night in bed and for moment thought about the seeds I plan to plant in the garden come spring.
I’m not sure why the sight of garlic appearing through the water logged soil or imagining the smell of broad beans  calms me a little, but it does.

February 2, 1968

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,
war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

Wendell Berry

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Fantasy Raised Bed League – leaf celery, coriander, mixed salad leaves

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I’ve decided on three more things to grow next year that I reckon will be more than useful additions to the fantasy raised bed league

1 Mixed Salad Leaves

I was up at ALDI shopping there and noticed a packet of these selling for €1.49. We could easily use one of those a week . If we did buy a packet of mixed leaves each week that would work out at €77.48 a year. Over the course of 7 years that would be €542. So its worthwhile growing mixed salad.

2 Leaf Celery

I’d like leaf celery in my team as apparently it’s much easier to grow than normal celery and I get fed with recipes that only need one or two stalks of celery and leave you with most of the head of celery to use up.

Maybe this would be alright if celery was something that I particularly enjoyed eating but it’s not one of my favourite vegetables.
I reckon I’d use celery every 3 weeks or so, but could use it more if it was there. A celery type thing going on somewhere would be worth at least €15.42 a year.

3 Coriander

I could probably make use of coriander every week, usually in a curry or a soup. But it just doesn’t keep well so although I often need it I often don’t have it. My own supply would be a nice addition to the Fantasy Raised Bed Team and would save me about €38.74 a year.

So that is flat leaf parsley, coriander, mixed salad leaves and leaf celery in the team for next seasons raised beds. They won’t take up much space either (a few sq. metres?) and I reckon they could be worth about €170 a year.  What comes next though?

Fantasy Raised Bed League

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I’ve been slowly slowly filling my raised beds up with soil. While I’ve been doing that I’ve also been wondering ‘I wonder what I should put in here when the spring comes?’. In a way it reminded me of playing Fantasy Football League so I decided to pick a Fantasy Raised Bed Team.

The first name that I’d have down on my team sheet would be flat leaf parsley. I have some growing at the moment and use it all the time, at least once a week.

Buying one of those plastic herb boxes at my local supermarket would set me back €1.49 and I could do with buying a box of it every 2 weeks and then throwing out the rest. But the truth is that if I didn’t grow it I probably wouldn’t buy it as I would treat it as a non essential.
So by growing some I provide something that might otherwise cost  €38.74 per year, and if we lived here for 7 yrs that would be €271. Plus I would have cut down on plastic packaging.
It also won’t take up much space, so that is why it’s the first name on my team sheet.

1 Flat Leaf Parsley