The menu for July

summer harvest

At the moment, we are mostly eating beetroot, broad beans, new potatoes and garlic. Though not necessarily all at the same time. Oh, and strawberries too, still eating strawberries, but I’m mainly whizzing them into yoghurty smoothies now. I made a batch of jam using last years blackberries and raspberries from the freezer along with lots of strawberries which I’ve been adding to the frozen fruit collection over the past weeks. It felt good to completely empty the freezer out of fruit, but it keeps on coming. The raspberries and blackberries have yet to come for this year, so the freezer will be full again before the year is out.

Our early potatoes are the variety Winston. They’re a bit so-so, not sure if I’d grow them again. Quite tasty, but some slug damage and lots of very tiny spuds despite the tops of the plants dying back. They didn’t flower much either, so the yield is not great. For some reason I never seem to have much luck with earlies. Some of the larger ones went into a spanish tortilla.

The beetroot (var. Boltardy) is being eaten fresh in salads, as I can’t bear the stuff pickled in vinegar. For years I just assumed I didn’t like beetroot, as the pickled sort was all I knew. How funny to think that now. Boiled or roasted is fine with me, or even pureed and added to a chocolate brownie mix. Trust me, it makes the most moorish brownies ever.

The broad beans (var. Bunyards Exhibition) are also being eaten fresh, they never taste as nice from frozen (in my opinion). They’re small and tender at the moment, so they don’t need double podding. Once they fatten up into more meaty beans I’ll also be making broad bean hummus. And talking of hummus, at the weekend, a whole head of green garlic (i.e. garlic that hasn’t dried out yet, so the cloves don’t have their usual papery skins, and the whole head can be sliced like an onion) went into homemade chickpea hummus. It was very garlicky but lovely. Here’s hoping it will stop the midges from biting me, the whole of my elbow and half my arm swelled up from the last attack.

garlic harvest

The garlic has been a surprise success this year. I say surprise because after I planted it back in November, it rained for weeks, and I was convinced the bulbs must have rotted away. When in spring it looked hopeless, I decided to buy some more bulbs, and then typically it started to come though. So it’s a bit behind schedule, but at least this year I had no rust, and the bulbs have fattened up nicely.

garlic

The variety is Provence Wight, which is known for having slightly larger than average bulbs. After trying several varieties, I’ve pretty much stuck with this one.

baby courgettes

I would normally also be eating courgettes by now, but my 2 plants are way behind, and I’m still waiting for my first one. There are lots of babies, so it won’t be long, and then I’ll be moaning about what to do with them all. For now though I’m impatient for my first courgette.

sweet peas

And finally my first little posy of sweet peas. Last years sweet peas were a disaster, and my attempts to get seed germinating failed both in the autumn and spring (or they got eaten by slugs), so when I saw some small pots for sale on the local market, crammed full of sweet peas for less than a quid, I decided I may as well, and I’m really glad I did. They’re called Spencer, and they’re creamy white and dusted with shades of lilac and pink. Beautiful and sweet smelling. The stems aren’t very long though, so most of my vases dwarf them, hence the use of an old vodka bottle! The plants are all at different stages, but that’s good, hopefully they’ll keep producing all summer.

Still very hot here. I don’t want to complain, but it’s turning into drought conditions on the plot. We need some rain. I have tiny, baby cucumbers, but they’ll be tough as old boots without any water.

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