Ah, Tassie summers. Ups and downs. Great weather one day, cold and grey the next. Sundresses and thongs, sun on bare skin; then pulling on a cardie and thick socks. We had a couple of scorchers, where the intense sun burns your skin in minutes (and if Hobart's weather says '30', add about 5 degrees for the eastern shore where I live). But then we had an amazing night of rain where my rain gauge hit levels never before seen; and this week has never seen a temperature above 18. A Tassie summer certainly keeps you guessing.
The same can be said of the vegie garden - ups and downs. Take for instance my little 'Paris Market' carrots. Beautiful little globes, with a wonderfully carroty flavour. And ... thickly covered in clumps of grey aphids at the base of the stalks. I never realised aphids went for carrots; Dad had never heard of such a thing either. Aphids truly revolt me, and to find them encrusted all over my carrots (along with the attendant ants) made my stomach churn. Harvesting them was a loathsome chore, as the ants would swarm all over me as I pulled the carrots; I'd simultaneously dunk the carrots into a bucket of water to swish off the aphids and flick the angry ants off my arms and legs.
But the trauma was worth it; they are delicious carrots, and rather practical too, as little or no cutting is required before cooking.
Yet these too were blighted by aphids - this time, shiny black ones (and yes, the ants were there too). Again, not just one or two insects, easily blitzed with a modest spray of pyrethrum or left to the couple of ladybirds I have seen in the garden. No, thickly scabbed stalks and leaves and soft new growing tips. I would need an army of ladybirds to devour all these! It was truly disgusting - just typing this, I am pulling the same revolted face that I do when out in the garden; my jaw clenches and my lips pucker and twist downwards. But I was astounded by the fact that these creatures recklessly flaunted themselves (yes, aphids are evil creatures) right near my companion plants! How does that happen?
Last weekend I pulled all the broad beans out; they were all akimbo after some nasty winds and that was the final straw. Blackened with aphids and helter-skelter from the winds - and barely any beans to boot, either! So out, out damn bean.
I've pulled some other crops out already - sugar snap and greenfeast peas (shown above when lush and healthy) that had done their lot and gone awfully mouldy (see them here, if you're into pics of mouldy peas), the purple podded peas which were so pretty on the vine as flowers and little pods:
Gah, where's the moisturiser? Wrinkly hands!
Did you know that some peasant cuisines in Italy advocate eating the leaves and stalks of zucchini vines? I thought of that as, armed with gloves, I would trim off the spiky leaves smothering all nearby. Eating these? I'm all for not wasting anything, but that truly would be poverty.
I grew and harvested glorious beetroots, red and orange. I am tossing up whether to try sowing another crop now - I think I will. I love them cut into wedges, laid out in a single layer on a baking tray lined in foil, and roasted (wrapped in foil) with olive oil, white wine, and garlic. Tenderly soft and robust in flavour - though those orange ones did have a sweet edge. Beetroot is one of my favourite vegetables. Oh, and it's never attacked by aphids.
To complete the list, I am currently and eating growing borlotti beans, more sugar naps, green French beans, curly yellow beans, basil, lazy housewife beans. Waiting for the corn (growing beautifully, though not yet ready to harvest) and almost, almost:
Worth the wait.
What to do now? Keep watering, and feeding - garden maintenance. Think about sowing some late summer crops - beetroot, carrots, more beans - that may be okay as we head into autumn (though I think we are there already this week). And simply enjoy. Be sure to check out other green thumbs in the Garden Share by clicking on the logo at right.