Tuesday, July 5, 2011

all is forgiven in the garden

Okay, so I know I've been mumping on a bit about my new house and garden but suddenly a corner has been turned.

All twenty outlying acres are dealt with for the year: the big field - about fifteen of them - has been eaten down to ankle length by the cow lodgers, who've now gone somewhere shadier for the summer; the meadow - 3 acres - succumbed to the gentle ministrations of our midget tractor; the five paddocks  - 2 acres in all - succumbed to a combination of the midget tractor, the strimmer, a rake, the old warhorse of a push-along and some wrestling and cursing  (wrestling with hidden fence wire and cursing people who hide fence wire in long grass).

As to the garden: the digging is done; fourteen pick-up-truck-loads of muck have been applied (people get quite excited about the idea of gorgeous free compost until they hear that you have to shovel it up into your truck yourself, bring it home and shovel it out again (not me, I got my Dickies tucked into my wellies, spat on my hands and . . . met the events organiser of the Vacaville Borders who was shoveling from the same pile one day)); trees are planted - fig, pomegranate and gingko; trees are felled - sweetgum, eucalyptus and pine (all either dead or planted in the septic line) and best of all . . . the vegetables are growing.

The terraces at the back of the house that were dead and brown last August:

are now home to aubergines/eggplants, tomatillos, zinnias and marigolds for cutting, sweetcorn, courgettes/zucchini/thin-skinned summer-squash, okra, tomatoes, peppers, chillies, lettuce, rocket, beetroot and strawberries.

(sorry the before and after aren't from the same angle - I hate that too).  And there are watermelon, cantaloupe, Hallowe'en pumpkin, pattypans, butternuts and cucumber swelling up in little pots ready to go into the lower bed.

So as ever, it's Calling All Courgette Recipes time.  I used to plant six courgettes every year in Scotland and the glut nearly buried us alive.  Here, this year, I planted six green, six yellow and six crookneck.  That's eighteen courgette plants.  To feed two people.  Who're also going to be tackling what comes of the 91 sweetcorns I put in.

And it's started already.  One of them doubled in size overnight last night, but at least it was a yellow one.  It's the sneaky, green, leaf-coloured ones you have to watch for.  They can grow to the size of houseboats and the only clue is the way they snigger as you go past without noticing.

But that's what it's all about - eating what's ready to be eaten instead of what's on BOGOF in Tesco.  Here's the first pre-dinner haul, from last week.

It made me very happy.  True bliss won't come until I go out in the rain to dig up potatoes once the water's boiling, but a few courgettes, two kinds of lettuce and some rocket flowers was pretty good too.  The second best thing that's happened in the garden since we came here.

The first you ask, reluctantly, hating the manipultion?  Why of course.  It's this.

My new potting bench, the seat of garden power.  It's a dumpster-dived table, nailed to old fenceposts to give it some height (and a faint Wallace and Gromit look, to my mind), with a $2 bookcase on top and sidey-bits made of  planks from an emergency refectory table (we had to build when we invited too many people to a Burns' Supper but then dismantled when we found a better one in a yard sale) to stop the compost falling off. 

You can keep your rattan sectionals - that's my kind of garden furniture.  I love both it and the undergardener who knocked it together for me.

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