We have netted all the stone-fruit trees in the orchard that still have fruit on them. We move the nets from the early trees that have finished fruiting and relocate them to the late season trees that are turning colour and ripening. Once all the early fruiting varieties are done, they no-longer need the netting. Some of these trees are getting quite old now and have gained some size. Our oldest trees are over 40 years old, however most are now 2nd generation plantings, still they need a support system that can cover trees up to 4 metres high. This means that we need to use the bigger nets that are 9 metres square.
We have figured out a way to build a frame simply out of 2 pieces of left-over polypipe tubing, tied together in the middle and spread out at right angles to form an arched support. We hammer in tomato stakes to secure the pipe to the ground and it become quite stable. The difficulty is in getting the netting over the frame. Janine ‘bowline’ King attaches a rope to one side and throws it over, then with me voicing encouragement, she hauls the netting over the frame. The polythene piping is quite smooth and slippery, so the netting travels freely over. We repeat the process for each tree with ripening fruit until we run out of nets.
The birds are so very resourceful. They have figured out that if they sit on the netting and bounce up and down on it , it will sag down until it touches some of the fruit. Then they peck at it through the netting.
This whole process of netting is fast and efficient, and we get it all done in an hour or so. There is still time in the afternoon to go to the garden and de-fuse the exploding zucchini crop. We lunch on steamed broccoli and cauliflower with a squeeze of lemon juice and a little fresh ground pepper.
As the garden is so prolific in this warm wet weather, we decide to make an egg plant parmigiana. We have lots of tomatoes and aubergines.
Tomatoes blanched and skinned, sliced and laid over the aubergines with a little olive oil, then sprinkled with torn basil leaves and crushed garlic, finally covered with a jar of our home made tomato, garlic, onion and capsicum sauce. Grate parmigiana on top and bake.
Another favourite at this time of year for a simple meal on a hot day is cold cucumber soup.
This isn’t really a recipe, more a way of thinking about using up cucumbers. It’s cooling and soothing and a little bit tangy, and you get to use up a lot of cucumbers.
Use half a dozen small, or 3 large cucumbers. Peeled and seeded if they are older and larger, but all in as they come if they are young.
Some mild onion like red or white, or even green spring onions finely chopped
A big bunch of cilantro or coriander leaves finely chopped.
A small bunch of mint leaves finely chopped.
A couple of cloves of garlic, smashed and de-papered.
Some finely chopped chilli to taste and although I don’t use salt, if you want it, add it to your our taste.
Juice of a lemon.
Put it all in the blender or food processor with half a tin of coconut milk and the same quantity of plain greek yoghurt, or just one of them, or some sour cream if that’s what you have in the fridge. You can use a blend of all three.
You can serve it with a little bit of olive oil on top and some paprika sprinkled on.
Janine mixes up the recipe each time she makes it to keep it lively and interesting, sometimes adding chopped dill, parsley or tarragon leaves. Sometimes with only yoghurt and other times with just coconut milk. It works just the same.
It’s always different and always delicious.