I love growing things, most especially things that are edible. Eating food that I’ve grown and tended myself really makes me feel connected to the earth and other living things.
So what’s happening down at the allotments?
The strawberries are mostly finished, though we still have a few everbearing and wild ones that are producing a small crop.
The autumn raspberries have finished their first early crop on last year’s canes. Most garden ‘experts’ advise you to cut your autumn raspberries down to the ground in February, but I’ve discovered that if you leave them to grow the second year, just trimming the tips in spring, you will get an early crop of raspberries from the old second-year canes. These canes can then be cut down when they’ve finished fruiting in June, and the new canes will start to produce a crop from around mid-summer through until frost. Two crops for the price of one! The crop on our new canes is just starting, so won’t be in full production for a few weeks.
Fruit that is in full production right now includes gooseberries, white currants and black currants.
One black currant bush is producing fruits that are about three times the size of our other black currants… they are the size of small grapes! Unfortunately, we won’t have enough to save for a batch of black currant wine, though hopefully I’ll be able to make black currant cordial (homemade Ribena).
The gooseberry bush is tiny, and there are only a few gooseberries on it, but they are very delicious. I’ve found that leaving the berries on the bush until they have a bit of “give” to them really makes a difference to how sweet they are. They bear little resemblance to the gooseberries you buy in the supermarket.
The white currant harvest is likewise very small, but they are also delicious.
On the vegetable front, the first mention goes of course to the fabulous spud. The harvest began a couple of weeks ago, and barring a major disaster, we shouldn’t have to buy potatoes until sometime next spring.
We have picked our first pods of Bijou, a giant mangetout (sugar snap pea). This variety will definitely be grown every year. We were a bit late getting our peas into the ground, which is why they’re starting to crop so late.
We’ve had just a few pods of our shelling peas, Hurst Greenshaft. The seed is a couple of years old now, and germination wasn’t great, but we’ll be saving seed to sow next year as the peas are tasty and sweet.
Our sugarsnap peas, Delikett, have just started producing pods. They were also sown from older seed, with resultant poor germination, so that will be another that we’ll save fresh seed from (or buy, if we don’t have enough to save). This variety is superb… crisp, juicy and sweet. I love eating them raw, fresh off the vine.
One crop that can always be counted on to be prolific is courgette (zucchini). We’re growing three varieties this year, the standard All Green Bush, as well as Trieste White Cousa, and Early Golden. The first two have begun producing, and it won’t be long before the glut. Anyone have any courgette/zucchini recipes to share?
Back at home, we are growing salad leaves in a raised bed in our front garden, and hope to keep it in production for most of the year. Right now the bed is growing romaine lettuce Chartwell, red cos lettuce Marshall, and also Red Deers Tongue lettuce and Salad Leaf Rocket. Mr Thrifty found slugs and snails partying in the bed a couple of days ago, so he removed them to the secondary party zone (a pile of half-munched lettuce leaves located away from the raised bed, on the grass), then sprayed all around the outside of the raised bed with a salt solution. This seems to keep the slugs and snails away without committing slug & snail homicide (gastropodicide?)
We are continuing to slowly get the new allotment into shape. An update on the progress will be forthcoming soon!