I really enjoyed Lia Leendertz’s piece in the Telegraph yesterday, about allotment gluts. Every glut has a silver lining, says Lia. I like that sentiment.
Best of all, Lia made me feel okay about my presently untidy plot. ‘A general glut-time rule is to prioritise harvesting, above all else,’ she wrote. ‘Yes, it’s nice when paths are edged and beds weeded, but not if that means you miss the moment when the French beans turn from tender to tough.’
Amen to that. And phew. I can feel a large weight being lifted from my shoulders. It’s hard to keep up this time of year. The weeds are prolific, grass needs cutting, spring plants need pulling out and of course, there are loads of other exciting things to fill the long days with.
Visiting my plot last Saturday, I came away with a basketful of food but a slightly glum mood. I wasn’t doing my chores. The allotment was scruffy. I was letting myself down.
Liberated From Chores
Now, however, I’m liberated. Lia’s right. Who cares about the mess? I’ve worked my proverbials off for these halcyon summer months when veg just grows. Its time to sit back and admire, and experience the fruits of my labour. I’ll tidy up in the winter.
I’ll do some watering, some sowing and maybe a bit of hoeing, but mainly it’ll be harvesting. I like to harvest at the end of an allotment shift, almost as a reward for my morning’s work, like finishing a ride with the best trail or making the last scoop of dinner the tastiest bit.
So it’ll be nice to wander down and hoe knowing that in a few minutes time I’ll be harvesting, rather than after I’ve cut the grass and made each bed immaculately weed-free.
The Exciting Challenge of Gluts
Lia also talked about gluts and ways to try and manage this peak season surplus. ‘It’s alarming,’ Lia says, ‘when you find yourself Googling ‘courgette jam’. Some of the recipes for gluts are certainly alarming, but I do find it exciting and challenging to discover as many different things to make with my produce.
I used to be rubbish at cooking. More mummy’s boy than Masterchef, I hadn’t cooked myself a meal until I moved in with Ailsa at 26. With her commuting to London and me working down the road, it was suddenly my responsibility to cook dinner during the week.
There were a few mishaps – the pasta sauce I boiled down to a dollop for example – but I’m now proficient at following instructions and find myself sticking ‘X gluttonous vegetable’ into BBC recipes and thinking ‘you know what, I could cook that!’.
I love the challenge that gluts present. I’ve got a big file of recipes at home, which include such oddball niceties as broad bean burgers, runner bean chutney, and, well, courgette jam (albeit with some ginger).
Speaking of courgettes and gluts, I’ve worked out that leaving one of the plants to grow a couple of marrows helps slow things down. They’ll keep until Autumn too, and I like to use them in Autumn chutneys.
For now, I’m off to harvest. Happy glutting.