Suddenly, there are apples everywhere. We visited Matt’s 90-something-year-old Grampy at the weekend and the first sight on entering the house was these stacked apple crates, plus a sign at the front door claiming apples for sale. I make a mental note to track down a recipe for the Dutch apple cake that I saw in Rotterdam back in May, generously crammed with fruit and topped with cinnamon-spiked crumble.
Against all odds, the borlotti beans have come up with a bounteous harvest and I picked a carrier bag-full of marbled pods yesterday. The beans inside are big, around the size of a thumbnail, and milky creamy – I prefer them in this youthful state. Rather than dry them, I’ll pod these and stick the beans straight in the freezer, ready to be thrown into chillies and minestrone when needed. So much simpler than the usual palaver of soaking and boiling for a day.
I’ve brought in the ornamental gourds too, in their stripy green and yellow jackets. They’re brightening up the fireplace with autumnal colour.
But the real job of the weekend was getting started on the bulb planting. A few weeks back I went a little crazy, possibly after imbibing a sherry or two, and ordered a massive number of tulips, narcissi and allium bulbs for autumn planting. The idea was to have a patch of spring cutting flowers on the allotment that could just sit there all year round, perhaps being over-planted with lettuce or suchlike once the flowers have died back.
The bulbs duly arrived (the postman warned me over the weight of the box and was incredulous then I said it was bulbs) and I realised that I may have slightly too many. 310 to be precise. Now I am not the best when it comes to spacial awareness, but there was no way that the designated patch was going to take all these…
As the bulbs were going into one patch of clear earth, we simply dig out trenches and laid the bulbs out in grids. I say ‘we’: Matt did the graft whilst I supervised.
I’ve planted in blocks, so that each colour stays together. There was only room for tulips in the end – the allium and narcissi will have to go into pots or into the garden at Herbert Road, which is no hardship. In went (all from Sarah Raven):
Purissima: a pale cream shade
The Dutch Still Life collection: Helmar, Jan Reus and Bruine Wimpel, a deep red flowers offset with a yellow/red fiery striped and a dusky orangey-pink
The Brandy Snap collection: A mixture of smoky silken shades, with Belle Epoque, Bruine Wimpel (again), Cairo, Ronaldo
Spring green: I love this, a pale white with green stripes from the centre of the flower that lead down onto the stem
Moonlight Girl: An elegant yellow with pointed petals
The only question now is…will they all grow?! I went home with about 100 bulbs that went unplanted, knowing that there is now no excuse and I MUST make a start on the Herbert Road garden.
Planted: Tulip bulbs
Harvested: Borlotti, still more courgettes, gourd, dahlia, chrysanthemums, chard, spinach, rocket, chicory