Richard is back tomorrow after a trip to the UK and Isle of Man. In the past his absence has meant extra time for me, partly because I forgo doing much cooking. However, this trip has meant less ‘me time’ and a lot more work! Since moving here we have more and more projects on the go and these are shared, but now I’ve had to do Richard’s share: feeding, watering and cleaning out both sets of chickens; the weekly watering of the trees and shrubs; filling up the water tanks for our irrigation system; taking the dog out for runs (*the dog is still here of course following me constantly); emptying the compost bucket etc etc. Meanwhile the courgettes, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn and beans are endlessly producing their stuff which has meant me dealing with those, I’d hate to waste anything. So the freezer is slowly being filled up with cakes, quiches and all sorts of blanched and roasted goodies, and there’s plenty of sun drying going on too (now that the sun has finally come out, it’s been a cold, grey and even showery July).
Interestingly, well for me anyway, is that most of the stuff growing outside is doing better than that in the polytunnel. The polytunnel was great starting things off but it gets so hot inside (even with the window and door open) that things are suffering. The chilli plants have failed and there are fewer flowers on the peppers and aubergines too. I think this is partly to do with the very warm and sunny spring months, it was warmer at night in April than it has been recently in July, so the outside stuff did well and the polytunnel stuff overheated.
One great tip I have learnt recently is that you can easily make new tomato plants from the side shoots that have to be removed. They quickly turn into new plants with flowers which will give us an even bigger harvest.
In addition to the veg there are plums popping up all over the place. Our yellow and red ones have come and gone but two trees (that frankly look very ropey and gave us no fruit last year) have turned out to be greengages. Plus, along the lane, damsons are going to waste so these have had to be picked too. We’ve now made plum jam, plum cordial, plum and courgette chutney, plum crumble, plum tart and the latest is plum booze. It’s made with damsons and vodka which is already turning a delightful shade of pink.
Oh, and the mystery product I was making (referred to in an earlier post) is piccalilli which should be ready at the end of this month. Now I’m really looking forward to a time in the future when I can produce a delicious meal by simply defrosting things from the freezer, oh and Richard’s safe return too!