So what happens to the garden and vegetables during the summer?
Well the simple and only answer is that I, with or without the help of the Mudlets, still water, weed and tend the raised beds and polytunnel on an almost daily basis, especially in the hot weather we’ve been having recently.
The Courtyard is a little hit and miss, as being in the centre of the school, unless there is a member of staff on site, i can’t get to it but the strawberries and peas have all but finished, the beans are only just kicking in and the tomatoes are only just forming and so with the expectation of a member of staff being in until Thursday this week and then again at some point next week, I’m hoping that a touch of neglect won’t do too much damage. i will be moving the Container Garden out to the main vegetable patch on Thursday and so at least these plants will be okay. Mind you, I tend to save the beans and peas from the Courtyard for next years planting and so it isn’t too desperate if they grow to maturity and beyond.
I also pick any produce that is ready, throughout the summer break and this is then passed to the church wardens who deliver it to the pensioners in the village. This scheme worked really well last year. A couple of Christmas’s ago, some parents and children decided to go Carol Singing to raise money for the school. They did this one night during December and were horrified to discover, half way around the village, that some unscrupulous little so and so’s had been round one half of the village the night before claiming to be from the school! Needless to say the money raised from those so called school singers never reached the school itself.
So for the vegetable scheme, by having the two church wardens, who are both well known in the village, delivering the vegetables this puts paid to any misbegotten ideas of other members of the community, intent of trying to make a fast buck out of selling ‘school produce’ to the pensioners. Our scheme is free vegetables with the option to make a donation to the school garden, via the wardens, at the end of the summer if they choose.
Yesterday Eldest Mudlet, who was home for the weekend, and I popped to the school and watered the plants in the polytunnel. I then took her on a tour of the raised beds, pointing out the different vegetables and she happily helped me thin the carrots and beetroot which were then rinsed off under the outside tap and pick a few courgettes and beans. With the produce weighed, measured, counted and recorded, I placed it into one of the wooden boxes left over from the Container Garden Project and then took it round to one of the church wardens. I was quite pleased with how nice the vegetables looked in their box.
Today, Little Mudlet accompanied me to the school and helped with the watering. She was delighted to see that one of the melons she had planted, was actually flowering. She positively buzzing when she counted 4 pumpkins growing in the tubs and beds, happily helped me pick a few more rattlesnake pole beans and then a large clap of thunder broke overhead, quickly followed by a second and she decided that she’d like to go home now – please!
A little later on, I popped around to visit our elderly neighbour, who is now on the mend from her fractured hip, taking with me a handful of mangetout from my own garden, as we have rather a lot of it and I haven’t yet found a successful way of freezing it. She was tucking into her dinner when I got there, including, as it turned out, some of the school beans.
The church warden had been around with the box of vegetables and asked her to choose some things from it. My neighbour had opted for the beans and a courgette because, she said, the carrots weren’t really carrots and the beetroots were too small to do anything with!
“My husband,” she continued, “would have binned them!”
I was slightly taken aback at this because the round carrots were, well round and a pretty good size and the ‘normal’ carrots were about 2 inches long, what Supermarkets sell as ‘Baby Carrots’ for a lot of money! As for the beetroots, yes they weren’t huge but they weren’t tiny either. Boiled, with their skins scraped off, they would be ideal in salads.
“Singles my husband would have called them [this was about the carrots again] and he wouldn’t have brought them in to me because they were so small. They went straight into the bin!”
What a waste of food. A quick scrub under the tap and those carrots were good to go, raw or lightly cooked. I was more than a little miffed when I got home which is silly really but as Mud pointed out, the thought of eating something raw or lightly cooked is relatively modern and boiling the life out of something was the norm for many housewives when our neighbour was a young mum. So she was looking at the carrots and beetroot and seeing how difficult it would be to peel and then cook them, whereas I saw them as a quick scrub under the tap and away you go.
So when is a carrot a carrot? Well I guess that depends on who you are. To me and mine, a carrot is carrot from the tiniest of thinnings, only just starting to turn orange/purple but with an amazingly carroty taste, right through to the impressive foot long root, fat enough to feed the entire village.