As the summer is moving along we are certainly beginning to benefit from the bounty outside. Partly from foraging the natural plants available to us (clover for tea and plantain for salves and tinctures) and partly from the garden we’ve planted this year.
Though this is our 3rd summer here, it feels like this is a first year of gardening properly. The first year we planted in a ploughed area that was quickly overtaken by weeds. Somehow we still managed to get some great crops (it was such a hot dry summer I think it was mostly fluke) including LOTS of tomatoes, but last year was a true washout. Our soil is very depleted and lacking nutrients as well as being full of weeds and stones. So this year we’ve created raised beds with sleepers and new soil, a fresh beginning for all of us.
Despite our new garden things have been slow to get going, partly because we were spending good planting time actually building the beds, partly because the chickens were still in the hoop house until well into April making it impossible to bring seeds on, but mainly because it was such a slow and cool spring after the most brutal winter I’ve ever experienced.
Now, though, we really are starting to reap the rewards of our hard work. We’re producing all our own salads (including some spring onions), are bringing in bright green peas that glow like jewels when cooked, we’re using our own eggs and, of course, making all our own dairy products with Wander’s lovely milk. We’re far from self sufficiency, but we’re having many home grown and delicious meals as the season continues.
My kitchen has felt extremely busy this last couple of days, and yet my to-do list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter! I need to make hummus, energy bar and bread tomorrow morning, all helpful staples for the summer time when hungry boys seem to want feeding about every 3 minutes.
On the plus side today I managed to make another round of yoghurt (we’ve gone through 3 litres in about 2 days!) with more milk earmarked for yoghurt making tomorrow. I like to use milk I’ve skimmed pretty heavily for butter, I find the boys enjoy it more that way. I made butter, set milk for soft cheese and made a hard cheese called Queso Fresco, it is supposed to be full flavoured within 3 days so I’m hoping to be enjoying it by the end of the week.
In this time of swelling abundance it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to make the most of it. While we have a fridge full of milk I hope to make butter and cheese to store for winter, while we have vegetables growing I aim to avoid the grocery store and include something in each meal. I make mayonnaise with our free range eggs and stir fried rice with our own bacon and bright green peas; omelettes sprinkled with green fill our tummies with whipped cream and strawberries to follow. We may be busier than ever, with more chores to do than we have time or energy for, but with such well fed bodies surely we will be able to manage it all.