By Nick Condron
It’s September, and with the first modest rain showers and fresher, breezier air of autumn, our plants are finally gaining some much-deserved relief from the heat and the dryness of one of the most intense summers many of us can remember since the last comparable one way back in 1976.
Fresh and bright new leaves are finally appearing on many of their growing tips and on those still in bloom, a late flush of flower buds are forming and beginning to open to give us an unexpected but most appreciated late treat of colour.
Seizing the moment in the vegetable beds, Art is busy planting out the next round of brassicas grown from seed, with trusted favourites such as Purple Sprouting Brocolli and brightly coloured Swiss Chard to look forward to harvesting between next January and May.
In the midst of our tomato and marrow glut we’re all thoroughly enjoying their flavoursome freshness on a regular basis. It’s tricky to beat the sensation of indulging in the taste and explosion of juice provided by biting into a sun warmed tomato fresh from the vine!
One recipe in particular that we had a go at in our kitchen here recently is Marrow Zanzibar, which involved chopping and stewing several marrows to feed all of us. We simply cut them up into 2 or 3 cm pieces, then lightly cooked them in a little olive oil until soft in our biggest pot, along with some chopped garlic, a few onions, a cupful of sultanas, half a dozen cloves, a couple of bay leaves, two tablespoons each of apple vinegar and caster sugar, a bit of cayenne pepper. a good squirt of tomato puree and salt and pepper to taste. After simmering them on the stove for about an hour, we served them alongside some boiled blue potatoes we’d grown and some basmati rice, which perfectly balanced the flavours of the African Spice Island we’d managed to concoct. Absolutely delicious!
We’re very interested in growing and drying pulses so last year we planted some Fava Beans bought from @hodmedods . All went well and it was a great group activity picking, processing and storing the beans. From approximately 300g we produced around 6kg of beans! Unfortunately, we managed to attract some weevils which have taken a bit of the fun out of it. Any suggestions to avoid the weevils next year would be much appreciated. Since then we’ve popped them in the freezer and dried them again.
One final activity that Andrew is particularly busy with right now, ahead of the colder months we anticipate, is breaking up the old wooden pallets that get donated to us. Once the nails have all been carefully removed, they’re chopped up into kindling to fuel the wood burning stoves that heat our main cabin, and the two art and craft rooms we have.
If you fancy collecting some for a small donation, or would simply like to catch up with our array of ongoing activities or perhaps buy some of our lovingly propagated indoor and outdoor plants, then please feel welcome to drop by during the week between 10am and 3pm when we’re open.
The Garden Gate Project is in Northdown Park, Northdown Park Road, Margate CT9 3TP.
It’s certainly a bumper year for wild fruit (albeit sometimes in long-abondoned orchards). Within the last couple of weeks, we’ve picked apples, pears, plums, blackberries, damsons and sloes.