Returning from a short time away, I have spent the weekend surveying the multiplication of weeds, the slug and caterpillar damage, and the bounteous growth of vegetables that can happen in ten days of inattention in the garden. The slugs have feasted on lettuce seedlings. The lettuces have disappeared completely but the slugs have discovered a new delicacy – cat food. The poor cat had to live in the garden while we were away (although fed every day). He doesn’t mind living outside in the summer but I had never noticed before the silver slug trails round his food dish to add to his indignities.
The cat and his food are now safely back indoors so the slugs will no doubt look to my vegetables for their next feast. Everything else is growing and showing promise for a good harvest in the autumn, including our baby plum tree which we planted four years ago to replace the mature and generous tree which we missed so much from our old house. It produced its first reasonable crop last year and we looked forward to see what it would do this autumn. Some combination of sun and rain has meant that it is dripping with plums but its little baby branches couldn’t cope and an entire branch has fallen off, complete with four and a half kilos of unripe plums. I couldn’t bear to throw them on the compost heap so what on earth could I do with them? A quick search on the internet suggested chutney as the best option. So today I have made eight jars of ‘green plum and marrow chutney’, adapting a recipe for green tomato chutney. The tomato chutney recipe included apples but these have not yet appeared either in the garden or in the shops, other than those brought across the world from South Africa or New Zealand. I’m happy to buy fruit from across the world if it is something like bananas which don’t grow here but chutney apples seemed a step too far. So in went the overgrown courgettes that have turned into marrows in my absence. Did it work? I’ll have to wait as chutney must be allowed to mature but I’ll look forward to finding out. The chutney may be the silver lining in the cloud of broken branches but I hope I won’t have to make it again.