If the blogosphere is to be believed, and we have no reason to doubt it, there’s nothing a proper Homesteader enjoys more than the act of stowing away their harvest’s bounty. Be it preserving or canning, pickling or jamming, freezing, drying or brining it appears that the any urban farmer worth their salt can’t wait for that special moment when a harvest switches from ‘just enough for a taste’ to ‘if I have to eat another *insert appropriate fruit or vegetable I’ll scream’, so they can unearth the hugest pot from the back of the cupboard and get to work. How we wish it was like this for us.
Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing we enjoy more than a store cupboard packed full of our own home-grown preserves. Being able to jazz up that winter coleslaw with a couple of our own diced gherkins or smother our Sunday morning toast with jam from raspberries that grew not two metres from our own back door is a special kind of wonderful. We even enjoy the process of changing produce from fresh to stand-by once we get started. But that whole getting started thing: don’t tell anyone, but we find it a bit daunting; intimidating; in truth we find it downright scary!
On unearthing this until recently unrecognised fear (prompted by frustration at our collective procrastination over braiding up the garlic yield) a bit of dinner table investigative discussion was indulged in. Why did the thought of preserving our glut scare us so? Presently, like the sun bursting through a persistent sea mist, we finally got it: preserving is taking something we’ve nurtured and tended and dreamed about and, on reaching its best possible palatability, mucking around with it. What if we get it wrong? What if the jam goes mouldy or the garlic rots? What if *shudder* the pickles aren’t crunchy? Then we rolled our eyes, sighed heavily at the ridiculousness of it, and got on with creating order out of the stockpiled garlic.
Tomorrow we’re turning a bucket of plums into our favourite fish and chip condiment (yes, we know it sounds disgusting, but we challenge you to try it) and we’ve got some apricots to bottle as well. We won’t say we can’t wait to get started, but we’re on our way.
One form of procrastination we had utilised in favour of the garlic harvest was a bit of front garden pottering. Over the weekend we trimmed and weeded and faffed about until, come Sunday evening, we were pretty impressed with how things were looking.
During Monday All-In Housework Day as The Milk Maid flicked a duster around the front bedrooms her attention was caught by a little silver hatchback screeching to a halt outside Jude Nextdoors. As she watched, the car backed up and the two occupants were seen craning their necks as they cast their eyes over our handiwork. Curiouser and curiouser. By changing vantage points, the small sign on the car door could be deciphered: “Street…and…Garden…hey guys, come quick! You’re not going to believe this!”
Yes, we know it’s only one of thousands posted in mailboxes throughout our fair city but we’re still buzzing that our ham-fisted, experimental, half-baked attempt at this gardening game made an a couple of influential gardening gurus stop, backtrack, and tell us we were doing okay.