A Berry Good Summer…

Sunflowers showing their faces at last...
Sunflowers showing their faces at last…

And so it is that the many talented Lugh turns a hand to the gathering, and the storing and preserving. Bealtaine is a cold ash memory, and Lughnasadh is well and truly underway. Although not quite autumn yet, summer is noticeably on the wain.

All in all it has been an average summer on the Monster in the Corner. The early promise ushered in with those few bright days in May and early June, was quickly usurped by the realities of the typical Irish summer, and though temperatures held up well for the whole season, the rain, humidity and moisture levels caused, as expected, many a disaster in the garden and on the allotment.

There seems to have been a season’s long blight warning, and practically every gardener and grower has suffered big losses: potato crops, tomato crops, courgettes, and onions and garlic have all been badly hit countrywide.

We here on plot 49, lost over two thirds of our onions to powdery mildew and smut, and every single allotmenteer bar none had their garlic felled with rust. All maincrop potatoes needed constant vigilance with the Bordeaux Blue, and every single cucurbit leaf turned grey in a matter of days.  We do however have a good store of Longue shallots and Golden shallots both of which we had up and out of beds before the prolonged damp summer set in.

Yet, for all of the above misgivings it has been a berry good summer…nature always compensates. We, like every other plot holder in the walled garden have had a glut of berries. We’ve been picking and jamming successfully all summer: gooseberries, strawberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, blueberries and of course gooseberries. The beets have also done well, and we’ve begun to handle the early autumn glut of these by preserving in cider vinegar. The parsnips seem to be bulking up, and the pumpkins eventually put out some viable bloom and set fruit. The red kale is leafing out and seems to be one of the few things thriving with the constant moisture and lack of sunshine.

preserving the beets in cider vinegar...
preserving the beets in cider vinegar…

The sunflowers were very late in blooming, but have shown their faces at last with some of them almost 9 foot in height at present…and today, August 7th, we are set to jam the last of this years gooseberries for tomorrow we head off for a stay in Maple Leaf country…

The last of the Monster’s Gooseberries for 2016…

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