It's that time of the year again.
The sun is shining — well sometimes — the birds are awake early, the windows and doors stay open until late evening and the garden is bursting with all kinds of delicious food.
It's funny how one year you have a bumper crop of one thing and the next year it's something else.
Last year we had cucumbers coming out our ears. I was taking bags of them to work. This year I'm frantically searching the vine for one.
However, the beans just keep coming and coming and coming. In fact I've thought very seriously about changing Mr Neat's name to Mr Bean because he just keeps coming inside with yet another bowl full of beans.
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One good thing about beans is that unlike cucumbers you can freeze them. I've lost count of how many bags there are in the freezer plus we have given loads away.
The other thing that's going crazy this year is beetroot. Now Mr Neat gets a bit edgy when he sees produce in the garden that needs to be harvested before it either gets too big or goes off.
And I don't blame him. He's is the one that does all the work in the garden and we both don't like waste.
So for the past few weeks his question has been, "what are you going to do with the beetroot?".
I still have jars of it left from last year so wasn't really keen to bottle any more.
But on the other hand this was precious produce he had grown from seed. So out it came and two large pots of water went on the oven top. One was for par-boiling to be free flowed to roast in winter and the other was to make relish.
Mr Neat kindly asked what he could do to help. I suggested it would be a fabulous help if he could dice the beetroot to go in the relish.
He agreed. So when it was dicing time he wanted to know how "big" I wanted it diced.
Actually, I replied with a slight grin, it needs to be very finely diced, as we don't want big chunks in the relish.
It took him forever and he wasn't saying very polite things by the time he got to the last beetroot. In fact his face was getting red as a you know what.
We finally got at all done and tidied.
Then towards the end of last week I noticed the bowl of tomatoes on the table growing and growing. Then there were two bowls and I knew, I just knew that the question was coming — what are you going to do with the tomatoes?
This time I bet him to it. Tomato relish was boiling away by 11am on Saturday.
It is a great feeling to see all those jars of relish lined up on the table — very satisfying.
There's nothing like picking your own produce. With more and more land being taken for housing the price of fruit and vegetables is only going to go one way and that's up.
Have you seen the prize of watermelon this year? It's come down a little in the last week or two but I saw half a watermelon in a supermarket for $9.
Summer and watermelon go hand in hand but not at that price.
One thing I noticed while in Australia recently was that their food was much cheaper than here. Meat, veges, everything, making it a lot easier for families to make healthy options when it comes to feeding their children.
Be nice if families in New Zealand had the same opportunity. It would go a long way to addressing our growing poverty problem.
Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.