Last week we were away in Yorkshire. A fortunate week with fabulous sunshine after early morning mists and we avoided the fuel crisis which is this week. We were staying with a friend, so I bombarded him with home produce from our allotment together with the peaches I had taken from our tree and the first grapes. After a few days in the warm, the peaches ripened and I was stunned by how good they were, small but sweet. This after the previous owner told me that he had never had an edible one.
We drove over the moors, visited Filey and walked along the Brigg, met relatives and friends and ate well at great country pubs (still outside). On our last day we walked in gardens designed by the great Capability Brown and were in awe of his vision. To plant a tree which will delight future generations is providing a spectacular gift for for those who arrive long after we are dead.
Now we are home and daunted at what lies ahead. I have my book to finish. My editor is waiting and today, I received a possible invitation to apply for a speaking engagement at the Boston Book Festival next year, so I need to kickstart my writing again.
I fully intended to make a start. But last night’s torrential rain made the area we are setting aside for small fruit bushes easy to dig. Blueberry bushes are arriving this week and after a morning’s labour , the ground is ready. We finished digging up the potatoes two days ago (puny little things they are – very disappointing), so in a couple of weeks we can sew grass seed and create the new garden.
Today, I pulled out my sweet peas which have been amazing this year and kept the house smelling gorgeous for months. That area is ready for me to plant bulbs, polyanthus and wallflowers – all which sit waiting for me by the greenhouse. Emptying pots full of fuschias and geraniums to replant with bulbs, will keep me fully occupied for at least a week.
Next week, the men come to prune our fruit trees, all 35 of them. I thought there were only 27 but I created a spreadsheet to make notes on which did well or not, when the fruit is ready to pick and what kind of apples, pears they are. It seems we have more than I realised, not all fruited well but we did manage to send some of the poorer apples to be juiced. Apple wine, apple gin are brewing nicely along with pear vodka. The idea is to make Christmas presents, not drink them all ourselves – well, that’s the theory.
We have to make our allotment easy to manage. It needs rationalising and a growing plan. This year we planted too much on too big an area and didn’t replant when needed. We have rarely had to buy a vegetable all summer, other than carrots, and sold lots on our stall for a small donation. Next year will be better, easier. It has to be – I am too old for digging for hours. We’ll make better use of our raised beds which seem more adapt at growing weeds than veg’ and providing safe spaces for the cabbage white, even when covered by fleece. Watching a kale plant stripped over a couple of days is quite disheartening, although the younger granddaughter was fascinated. She has a pet butterfly that she rescued on a walk a few weeks ago. It appeared to have a damaged wing. It likes to sit on her face much to our astonishment. She keeps it fed and watered and so far it has not succumbed.
Last night we found a stash of photographs of the field after the previous owner bought it. It looks far bigger before all the trees were planted. My heart sank a little further. We must be mad taking on all this in our dotage. I hope that the next six months will see us sorting out a way to manage it better and allow my husband time to paint and me to write.