It could be my imagination, but a freshly picked strawberry seems to taste even better when it’s one of your own. This is a wonderful time of year for anyone who grows fruit and vegetables, whether in a pot outside the back door or on the allotment. There’s something delicious to pick most days. All that hard work we put in a few months ago, to keep the soil good and healthy, was worth it.
Over on the allotments most of us have finished sowing French and runner beans and peas. Pigeons, mice and pheasants are particularly keen on the peas, but with a bit of protection, our plants have survived. I’ve yet to cook any of them. We’re eating them straight from the pods, before they reach the kitchen!
We’ve planted out brassicas like purple-sprouting broccoli, ready for a good supply early next year. There are as many ingenious methods of covering them with netting to protect them from cabbage white butterfly and pigeons, as there are allotment holders.
This year, I’m growing lettuces in pots outside the back door rather than on the allotment. It’s easier for me to keep them watered and to dash out and pick a few leaves to put in a sandwich while I’m working. ‘Salad Bowl’ is one of my favourites. It looks pretty too.
If you’re planting lettuces don’t forget to give them some shade at this time of year. The seeds won’t germinate if they’re too warm and hot, dry conditions can make the leaves of lettuces that are already growing taste bitter.
There’s still time to sow courgettes, marrow and pumpkin seeds. You won’t need more than a couple of plants per family. Friends will only take so many off your hands and there’s a limit to the number of courgette cakes you can make and eat.
Top tips from the allotment:
– Don’t water the leaves of courgettes and marrows as this encourages mildew.
– Keep on top of the weeds. Hoe before you can see them!
Three cheers for the mum I spotted lifting her children up to smell the roses on Bell Street. Encouraging children to notice the little bits of natural loveliness around us has to be one of the best lessons we can teach them. If you missed Henley Regal’s screening of Project Wild Thing’s thought-provoking film, you can catch it on the website.