As ye reap..

As summer ends I find myself jealously collecting in the fruits of all our labours in the garden for the winter.

All my saved seed has been decanted into envelopes and labelled (hopefully correctly) and the summer’s dried flowers and herbs are sorted, tied and (mostly) bagged. It is, therefore, finally possible to walk across the garret floor without crunching. (Doubtless, the mess will return when it is cool enough up there to mix the pot pourri and fill lavender bags and bags of bath tea…but for now it is almost tidy). The best part of one of my jars of lavender oil has made it into soap and I have the rest ear marked for bath salts and scrubs come the first rainy day (always a boon to the mixing of potions). I shall at least be clean and fragrant under my multiple layers of jumper when the cold snap hits and we can’t afford the electricity….

The freezer is full of little yellow plums pending the lighting of the Aga and resumption of jam making. On the kitchen table, bottles of plums in syrup and plum sauce are awaiting labelling, ready to shine on the pantry shelves and cheer up November’s porridge. Plums bobbing in tall jars of vodka and brandy like lava lamps are the basis of this year’s novelty liqueurs. (Interim tastings of the vodka variant are distinctly on the sharp side……….I think more sugar may be in order). I even have a plum parkin maturing nicely in the tin. And yet, even with all this industry, the back lawn is still covered with mirabellas and there’s a miasma of plum in the air. To add to the issue, the Victorias and Czars are now coming on stream. It’s way too hot out still for crumble and I am scratching my head. I warn you now – I have just watched a you tube video on how to make prunes.

Keith is busy, rustling away downstairs tying up his onions to hang in the pantry. (The previous practice of putting them in racks in the shed seemed to let them get too moist and we lost quite a few to rot). Auntie Lois pleated the garlic beautifully a few weeks ago but the onions are proving way too big for that and are coming out more like clusters of Christmas baubles. We will be festively festooned in allium. Cake levels are also at an all time high. I have lost my pet courgette cake recipe and find myself road testing new ones on the monsters in the kitchen garden. No sure fire winners as yet, but with 3 and a half gargantuan marrows to go surely I’ll be able to crown a champion before the last of them are abandoned to a chutney based fate. Bizarrely, even though we have had a fabulous year for tomatoes, I’ve not had enough make passatta. We’ve been eating them almost as fast as they have been growing and I have but a scant three jars of sun dried left. I am hoping we still might have a few to go before I have to look up the green tomato recipes.

Sadly, the fruits of the summer’s hospitality have been equally generous to Lyra and me. The vet has cast aspersions at Lyra’s girth and my bathroom scales rudely refuse to lie. We have resumed long walks but, oh dear, the pair of us are rather out of condition. The hares in the stubble field have Lyra burned out after a quarter of a field and I’m puffing by the time I crest the rise looking for her (Lachlan having had exclusive walking rights on his holiday means that I have been demoted in the pack. Studied deafness to my whistle whilst she takes off after rabbits seems to be the order of the day). I am resolved that by the end of September we shall both be, metaphorical, whippets. (And if any of you are disobliging enough to feel that the courgette cake challenge is inconsistent with a diet and exercise programme may I remind you that courgettes are VEGETABLES).

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