Mr Fiction Ed has had a vegetable plot in our garden ever since we moved here 20 years ago. His dad had an allotment when Mr F.E. was growing up, and he learned a lot from him.
Although it’s National Allotment Week, ours isn’t quite the size of an allotment . . . but it produces plenty of vegetables and fruit for the two of us.
Sometimes we’ll try growing different things, like spinach and chard, but we’ve learned that really it’s best simply to grow veg that we like, and that we’ll use a lot.
Potatoes are a staple, of course. Courgettes, too — though they sometimes seem to turn into marrows overnight! Fortunately I have a recipe for a delicious marrow and goat’s cheese lasagne which takes care of those. The courgettes go in stir fries and the bread I bake each week.
The runner beans are my favourite — full of flavour simply boiled and served with butter. They make a super tasty spicy soup, too.
Kohl rabi. Ever tried that? More popular in Germany, it’s a lighter type of turnip. Delicious raw in a salad, or cooked in a stir fry or mixed veg soup.
Carrots and onions. There’s nothing quite like knowing that the soup you’re making is from vegetables that are all home-grown.
Peas. It’s not often they reach the cooking pot — they’re so sweet to munch on straight from the pod. Salad veg. Tomatoes in a mini hothouse. Peppers and cucumbers in the potting shed. Herbs in pots by the back door.
We have some fruit trees, too — plum and apples — and fruit bushes giving us blackcurrants, blackberries and gooseberries.
Summer is a busy time of preserving, bottling and freezing. But again, there’s nothing quite like knowing that the jar of bottled plums I’ll open in January to have with a lunchtime yoghurt was off our own plot.
We even have a cherry tree, but it’s still quite new. I think we’ve only had about twenty cherries from it last year. The wind tore this year’s crop off before they were ripe.
And that’s the thing about allotments. Sometimes things fail. That’s nature. You just have to try again or try something different.
We don’t have a huge garden. It’s just careful use of a little bit of space, but the satisfaction it offers us is beyond measure.