I know I sounded depressed in my post yesterday and I have been feeling down; so many plants suffering and feeling I could do so little. But it really isn’t all despair in My Hesperides Garden. The vegetable garden has been producing pretty well; true some crops have not been as plentiful as other years but many plants are thriving – the vegetable plot, orto in Italian gets irrigated each night but this is not enough for everything.
Tomatoes have been spectacular, they are planted in a bed that had manure spread last autumn and they have responded to the extra body in the soil by producing a wonderful crop. My store cupboard is bulging with jars of homemade sauce and we’ve been eating them in so many ways EVERY DAY! – No, I’m not sick of them, I don’t really eat fresh tomatoes in winter, they are never the same as fresh picked in summer so in winter they are for cooking in sauces so I’m ahead of the game. This is the first year I’ve made sauce, other years I’ve given huge quantities of tomatoes away and some have sadly just rooted on the kitchen work top.
I often make a raw tomato sauce for hot pasta by whizzing tomatoes, without their seeds and water with a little oil and basil and sometimes a little added buffalo mozzarella.
The basil has also been better this year, not that it wants hot sun on it but with heat, shade and water I always have enough to make pesto and add to tomato salads etc. Thai basil was new for me this year and although it seemed to take an inordinate time to grow into useful sized plants is now growing well and I’ve already frozen some leaves whole; the next batch I’ll chop first, it has such an evocative flavour of wonderful Thai curries that I’m inspired to cook more of them. I think it might also be nice in cool drinks instead of mint or borage.
Today was a real high spot in my gardening life, I harvested my first peaches. I planted small trees last autumn that I intend to grow as espaliers; they were really quite small so I had no great hopes of having a crop this year. They are Redhaven and the label says they should be ready in July, well maybe because they a new trees or maybe the heat has stunted them they are ripe now! They are quite small, no very small, because I didn’t prune off any of the fruit so the tiny tree has produced a large quantity of small but delicious fruit! I had gingerly pressed them at the weekend but they seemed very hard; today they still felt hard (lack of water, I wondered?) so I picked one to eat and Wow! It was juicy and sweet and well, just the perfect peach – to me anyway. I harvested them all and I may put some into some white wine in the fridge so they last a little longer but the rest we’ll just enjoy as they are. This year many people have found that tree fruit has gone from being under-ripe to over-mature in a day, due to the temperatures; but as there is a manageable quantity I’m sure we’ll be able to eat them before they spoil.