He grew fruit too. There were raspberry canes, red, black and white currants and, in season, strawberry runners spread along the ground with their jewel like fruit.
Grandad was a traditional gardener and he had no time for pesticides. He would hand pick the cabbage white caterpillars from his vegetables and feed them to the chickens.
He spread straw under his strawberries to keep the slugs off and prevent the fruit rotting in the damp soil (slugs don't like the sharp edges of straw on their soft bellies)
He grew marigolds between his runner beans as the slugs and snails would eat these first and he encouraged earthworms with regular digging between the rows, keeping the soil open to allow them an easy passage.
Most of my memories of Grandad are of him working in his garden, his flat cap always on his head. In summer his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, a spade or a fork in his hand.
Grandad was a prolific gardener just as my Grandmother was a prolific baker and everything he grew was either used fresh, stored for winter or turned into jams and chutney.
The large built in wardrobe to the side of the fireplace in the large front bedroom was filled with jars and bottles of homemade strawberry and blackcurrant jam, redcurrant jelly, homemade mint sauce, green bean chutney and homemade pickles.
My tiny garden doesn't allow me to grow very much but I aways have a few tomato plants.
This year they went wild!
I grew some as I always do in the large Belfast sink outside my kitchen window.
The rest I planted in a small patch of earth at the end of the garden.
We must have had just the right amount of sun and rain this year.
|This is how they looked at the beginning of August|
Eventually I decided I'd better prune them a little to allow me access to my garden and to expose some of the fruit so it could hopefully ripen.
Well, apart from a handful of fruit (mostly from the Belfast sink plants) NONE of my fruit has really ripened.
I have and abundance of green tomatoes which, due to the change in weather (and it's FAR to soon in my opinion for it to be Autumn) my tomatoes are starting to split because they are waterlogged and the slugs are having a field day eating them.
I have to make a decision!
So far I'm leaving them in the hope that Summer will return and we will have a few sunny days to ripen them.
If that doesn't happen in the next week or so then I will have to either pick them and cook them while they are green (nothing wrong with green tomatoes and they are perfectly ok to eat, just not as sweet as when they are red) OR, I have to try and ripen them inside.
The problem is the time and space it takes to do this. I've read up a little on ripening tomatoes and they need to be laid out not touching each other in a box somewhere not too hot and it can take between 2 weeks and 3 months for them to ripen!
I don't really have the time or the space for this and to be honest, I want my tomatoes NOW. I want the summer back (last year I was wearing shorts on the 1st of October in Cornwall!) and I want to be eating my tomatoes in a salad.
It could happen, fingers crossed, who knows what might happen with the weather in England.
Meanwhile we are full on for picking the Bramleys and Blackberries this weekend if it stays dry.
The Blackberries at the farm are a little late this year due to the lack of sun at the crucial time and if it isn't dry for a few days then they too will become waterlogged and start to rot.
It's not like I NEED any more blackberries, I still have plenty in the freezer from last years bumper crop but I hate the waste and I love blackberry picking. It's such a gentle soothing way to spend a couple of hours ...