The Cottage Smallholder

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Allotment update: All Hallows Eve

Easily home grown pak choi

Easily home grown pak choi

Our allotment neighbour, Mark, has grown a giant pumpkin on his site and lots of little pumpkins and squash. I reckoned that his kids would be carving the monster pumpkin but this evening it was still lying on the ground looking like a vast, beached Humpty Dumpty. The allotment below us has tomatoes and plump red pepper ready to harvest for the past few weeks – they are just rotting on the plants.

I must admit that I’ve been eyeing this bounty. Danny is severe, “Even if they are clearly just going to rot, you can’t take them. It’s stealing.”
He’s right of course. We’d be horrified and furious if people picked our produce.

Apparently all someone’s new potatoes were stolen one dark night in early summer. All that time spent selecting, chitting, sowing, watering, tending and dreaming gone in a puff of 4×4 exhaust.

I expect that if food prices continue to rise there will be guards on allotment sites. I wouldn’t want to come face to face with the volunteers on our site with a pumpkin under my arm.

But, on the other hand, if there was some drama and we couldn’t get to the allotment for weeks, I’d prefer that our food was harvested and enjoyed – rather than going to waste. Perhaps there could be a sign stuck in the ground that indicates rich pickings for all?

What do you think?

We are harvesting vegetables from our site. Baby turnips that have a good hot kick when raw in a salad and sweet with a satisfying crunch in a stir fry. Spinach – lots of this thank goodness. Having just had the baby leaves from supermarkets, I’d forgotten the flavour of older leaves – deeper and far more spinachy. Curly kale, quite yummy when ultra fresh, winter lettuce and chicory. Baby carrots that are sweet and tender with the mud brushed off and crunched as a snack in situ. Chervil, perennial rocket, lambs lettuce – the list goes on and on.

This evening I dropped in to sow some broad beans in a long thin border that Danny finished yesterday. We’re having confit of duck tonight and I looked around for crisp light vegetables to accompany this dish. A chubby head of pak choi and sweet carrots were my choice. Marvellous.

If you examine the portrait of our pak choi above you will see that we have already shared a little of our bounty with the resident slugs!

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  1. Oh Fi, that must be maddening to watch!

  2. Vicky Squires

    It’s a constant wonder to me why fellow allotmenteers grow stuff and don’t bother to harvest it! Every scrap of our produce is made into jams, coulis and conserves, frozen, dried, bottled…
    Some gardeners seem to enjoy the challenge of producing an immaculate patch with everything in measured rows like a piece of graphical art, but aren’t particularly interested in eating the stuff. Terrible shame.

  3. Oh don’t worry- living in slug country clued me into those holes in an instant! but the rest of it looks quite lovely, and you know what? I’m learning to eat around the slug holes…..

  4. Sue Burton

    I had similar discussion with allotment neighbours. A good suggestion regarding the over-ripe raspberries on the next plot to mine was to pick them and put them in the freezer. You’ve saved the fruit/veg but not stolen it, only preserved it for them. Obviously you then haveto tell them what you’ve done for them and offer the produce back. A problem if you live far away from your lottie or if, like me, you struggle to find space in your freezer. Still, worth a thought.

  5. Michelle from Oregon

    I think if it was me I would establish a box or basket at the front of the allotment with a “free” sign attached to it.
    Then any extras could be put there.
    That way you don’t have someone wandering around on your allotment accedentally doing damage on there way to gather whatever you have a glut of.

    Could you call your friend in regards to the pumpkin? It would be a shame to let it go bad, and maybe he needs help transporting it home?

  6. Can you not enquire if the folks are okay and maybe need their veg picking for them? It is frustrating to not have time to pick something and some kind soul helping out would be wonderful.

  7. Kooky Girl

    I made a big mistake last year of leaving my pumpkin in the ground too long. They were only in my garden, but by the time I got to them, the bottom of them both had rotted. I could’ve cried.They were so big and bountiful and no good or anything. That same year I had so much courgette I didn’t know what to do with it. In these times of economic hardship, the idea of a freecyle for excess fruit and vegetables makes perfect sense to me. I hate waste. :o) All the best, Kg.

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