The nation continues to bask in this extraordinary spell of hot weather.
Along one edge of our garden Haweswater Beck slides calmly by. Long silky strands of water crowfoot move prettily in the current, there are fish in the shallows and we like to watch the family of ducks with their five ducklings who have avoided the heron’s attentions. Not sure I like herons.
We are eating almost all our meals outside at the moment. Such a treat.
The Kitchen Garden seems to have recovered from the ravages of the gales six weeks ago and is choc a bloc with all manner of wonderful vegetables.
Last autumn I planted lots of garlic from the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight – it’s almost ready and looking great. Last year’s harvest is still being used in the kitchen, only ten heads left. Onions, white and red, are coming along nicely. The rhubarb cropped really well and made many good batches of jam. Seed potatoes ‘Sharpe’s Express’ were planted on Good Friday when a bitter wind froze my fingers as I worked.
In March, for my birthday, I received an unusual and really interesting present from friends in London. It was a card telling me I was going to receive a ‘Gourmet Vegetable Garden’ all ready to plant, from the Rocket Garden Company. In April a large bag of wormcast compost duly arrived, it went onto the empty raised beds. In May, the ‘Garden to Go’ arrived. Dozens of tiny little plug plants – brassicas, root vegetables, salads, broad, French and borlotti beans, peas and more. For the greenhouse there were cape gooseberries, aubergines, chillies, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and so on.
All those little plants have grown to almost their full size and we are harvesting like mad. The broad beans are so delicious boiled for the shortest of time, slipped from their skins and added to all kinds of salads or eaten warm with butter and chopped chervil. The cucumbers are cropping now, the tiny marble-sized tomatoes, four or five varieties in different colours, are appearing. I have to keep on top of the watering in the greenhouse, the water butts are nearly empty and no sign of rain. Last Sunday, a baking hot day, I was helping at the Bampton Sports. When I got home in the early evening, the thermometer in the greenhouse showed a maximum temperature for that day of 46 degrees!
Last night, too hot to cook, we had a lovely plate of cold chicken and Alan’s Ham from J&J Graham of Penrith with a delicious root vegetable slaw of shredded celeriac, carrot, golden beetroot and kohlrabi with a dressing of lemon, olive oil, sherry vinegar, a little sugar and a good handful of chopped coriander, parsley and mint. On the side we had a bowl of Greek yogurt perked up with a crushed clove of garlic, a sprinkle of sea salt, a good few turns of the pepper mill and a glug of olive oil. You can almost feel a supper like that doing you good.
No doubt the heatwave will come to an end and we will start complaining about the Cumbrian drizzle again, but for now we can look at the lovely trees against the cloudless skies and be glad we live in this beautiful spot.