“So pilgrims on the scorching sand,
Beneath a burning sky,
Long for a cooling stream at hand,
And they must drink or die.” (189 Montgomery, The Sacred Harp, 1991 Denson revision)
The heat is stifling.
There is some respite – a sea breeze (we’re 10 miles from the coast) from time to time.
And we’re lucky to have shade that we can sit under if it all gets too much to bear.
But there’s no rain and hasn’t been for weeks and weeks and weeks.
The land is brown and parched and dry as a bone.
It’s a drought of biblical proportions.
But the no dig and heavy mulching with homemade compost has provided the veg garden with some resilience.
It means I can get away with watering once a week.
However the extreme heat has taken its toll.
Several baby squash have withered and died on the vine – although their bigger cousins seem to be unscathed.
I’ve given them a good soaking this morning.
The Bronze Arrowhead and Till lettuce produced delicious leaves for a good couple of months – but even they are starting to run to seed in the heat – as has the bulb fennel.
Other casualties include the rhubarb that’s been burnt to a frazzle and the globe artichokes which are just about hanging on.
The tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes and aubergines in the glasshouse love it but need constant top ups as they’re in pots.
I’m hoping red spider mite does not attack – it loves very dry conditions.
This morning we picked a couple of kilos of redcurrants which were warm from the sun!
We freeze loads or make jam and jelly but this year I’m also making cordial.
That’s because the elderflower and rose that I made back in May didn’t last very long!
In other news
A couple of weeks ago I went on a Social and Therapeutic Horticulture course with Thrive.
Strumpshaw Tree Fair was great fun with lots of plants, food producers, artisans, travellers and gypsies, artists and second hand dealers.
I bought the most amazing muck fork for turning my compost for only £9.
- 2 kg redcurrants
- 480 ml water
Put washed clean redcurrants (no need to de-stalk them) in a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil for ten minutes.
Strain through a muslin lined sieve or jelly bag into a clean saucepan. Do not push or squeeze fruit to get the juice out just leave to strain naturally (otherwise it'll go cloudy).
Add sugar and, if you like, some cinnamon. In the original recipe it says 180g per 500g currants - but I used about that for 2kg of fruit!
Skim any froth or scum that comes to the surface and boil for a couple of minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour through a funnel into a sterilised bottle. (Sterilise by washing and then placing in an oven at 120°C (240°F, gas 1) for 5 minutes - or put through a dishwasher.)
Keep in the fridge.