Here is the Boss - Lucky - keeping a watchful eye on me as the spring sunshine warms her on the bank.
Raspberry canes being weeded and mulched with No. 1 muck heap . . .
I think about the only thing we are truly self-sufficient in here are apples - I still have several boxes down in the kitchen of what was my mum's flat - though they are a little wrinkled now and Need Using Up! Everything else I grow we eat in season - soft fruits like gooseberries I make wine with; raspberries and Japanese wineberries and any strawberries get eaten still warm from the bush; blackcurrants go into jams and summer puddings, though having said that, I still have some and some gooseberries in the freezer. Rhubarb gets eaten in season - it's my husband's favourite pudding in a crumble.
I grow peas and various beans, a few potatoes, leeks, Pak Choi, spring onions, mounds of courgettes, never enough cucumbers, tomatoes - though the past two years they've been blighted so they are going to be grown in my new greenhouse this year. I am never successful with onions or cauliflowers or broccoli . . . down to me I suspect. I shall Try Harder this year.
Yesterday I got Hope L Bourne's Exmoor Harvest in the post, and had to sit down (in the greenhouse) straight away and dip into it. Sitting in the spring sunshine, with silence apart from the birds and a tractor in the distance, it was BLISS! Now Hope Bourne WAS self-sufficient - all she ever bought was oil for her lamp, pencils, paper, clothes (one would assume), an annual purchase of a couple of pounds of dark brown sugar for cooking up with Rhubarb, and not much else. In an area of 4 square rods (a rod is a very old measurement of 5 1/2 yards which we learned about at school - along with poles and perches - and a square rod encompasses an area of about 30 1/2 square yards) she grew about 7 cwt (hundredweight) = 7 x 112 lbs of vegetables - mainly potatoes - 3 cwt; root vegetables (carrots, parsnips) 2 cwt; onions etc 1 cwt; green vegetables 1 cwt. The root crops were preserved by clamping, and she could guarantee, even in the worst winter, to be able to go out into her plot and find kale or similar, for the pot. I am humbled . . .
A little excerpt from this book, which is so beautifully written, under the chapter heading The Gift of a Garden:
Rows of fresh green vegetables in the summer sun, glossy cabbages, tall peas and beans, scarlet runners reaching for the sky, onions drying on the warm earth, tousle-headed potatoes, and lines of all sorts of other things Strawberry-beds under the high top bank; a herb-patch by the gate giving off scents of mint, marjoram, thyme, sage, peppermint, and lemon-balm; sweet peas gay along the bottom fence. Tubs of brilliant dahlias, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies and Cape-daisies in a flowering mass along the front of the barn. Borders of hardy plants about a small lawn with a sundial in the midst. This is my garden, my staff of life which gives me food to eat and the joy of flowers for delight . . .