• Sofias Country Gardens

A last hurrah


Happy messy kitchen garden

I knew I shouldn't have gone away in August. I knew it, but couldn't resist the temptation to do two consecutive garden journeys into other peoples gardens. So I shouldn't have been surprised and upset when I came home and my own garden was a mess... but still I was! I'm such a child sometimes. August you see is what July used to be - the month when all my hard labour bears fruit. I don't know when the climate really started to change, but years ago when I started to garden July was the harvest month and August more of a jolly tidy-it-all-away kind of month. Now, June is cold and slow, July is when things start to grow and August is full on vegetable extravaganza! September is the new August, when the vegetables throw a last hurrah in the air just before the night frost comes to claim its own. This makes September truly busy as I wasn't here to do enough work last month... My own fault but I think I still get to complain. At least a bit!


Blauhilde beans

Beans on a sunflower

New roof and crazy Blauhilde beans

While I had been away my beautiful Blauhilde beans had gone stir crazy. Evidently they loved the soil, and added to that I had planted them far too close. Note to self: always plant climbing beans and peas with big enough space in between plants and never go away in august! Both problems are truly of my own making. How can I not know that the tiny little beans that are planted as seeds in the ground will grow into strapping giants?!! I do know it, but come a cold June planting day I still look at them and go "Naah. This tiny thing won't grow. I'd better put a few more in..." and then a few weeks later when evidently they do grow, I still go "Naah. These spindly little plants won't amount into anything. I'll just let them be instead of thinning them out" and then come harvest month and I go "WHAT THE HECK??!" as I have the most crazy jungle of bean leaves, stalks and pods all over the place. This week I have been feeling my way through the jungle trying to harvest a bunch without totally wrecking the plants around them. Kind of good luck with that.


Happy tomatoes

Hand full of happiness

My poor old tomatoes have made an effort, although they were left for far too long to their own devices. I feel ashamed as I look at my fellow gardeners beautifully tied up and curated tomato plants, as mine were left to sprawl all over the place in the weeks I was away. With so much else going on after I came home, I felt too overwhelmed to know how to even begin the process of rescuing what was left and simply did a bit of tidying up before giving up. Nevertheless, I was rewarded for my feeble effort by a handful of beauties!


Wild tomato plants and drying onions

First stage of drying onions

Drying onions indoors

I love onions and tend to grow them tucked in between rows of carrots. They are the ultimate vegetable for the lazy gardener - just plonk them in and and let them get on with it. When I came back in the end of August I was worried they would have gotten soggy as I felt I'd left them too long in the ground, but not to worry! They were perfectly fine and dried nicely for a few weeks after I chucked them over the fence. Once they had developed a good peel and the stalks had dried to a yellow-brownish colour I made plats with them and leave to continue drying out inside the house, hanging from the kitchen lamp with an assortment of other decorations.


Carrots and Marigolds

Purple and white whimsy carrots

Once the onions were up to dry I started harvesting carrots. As you probably remember I am crazy about growing heirloom varieties of carrots where the normal colours are as much purple and white as orange and yellow. I always think "Why be normal when you can be different??"


Bean Merveille de Piemonte

Violet Queen potatoes

Cornflowers for the pollinators

And just when you might have thought that would be it, there is still the rest of the harvest to deal with! The blue potatoes have been a joy and one that I most definitely shall continue with next year, and the beans are now being dried in an experiment to keep them over winter for comfy stews when the snow is packed around the house. Still, I am pleased to give some space in my vegetable beds over to feed the bees and growing cornflowers for our pollinators as I have quite some overproduction. I can't get used to my family being all grown up and the youngsters spread all over the world, so I still grow the same amount of food as with a big family at home! Happily I have lovely friends who kindly take in my extra produce and turn it into delicious meals for their families. It must be said though, that sometimes I think that it is a wonder really that I have any friends at all as my world revolves around my garden to such an extent that I have almost no normal conversation... Bless!


Mid September in the vegetable garden