Months of preparation are beginning to pay off as the first real crops are maturing at the allotment. From the time when the tiny seeds were planted in seed trays and tended daily to see how they progressed, to planting them out in raised beds or their specific areas at the allotment, it has been a journey with both triumphs and failures and lessons learnt for next year. Growing your own vegetables is at its most rewarding however when you can begin to pick your crops and enjoy meals made up of your own fresh homegrown fruit and veg.
Yesterday we went up to the allotment and, as well as clearing away a few encroaching weeds to remove the hiding places for pests such as slugs, were able to harvest our first meal sized portions of vegetables. The day’s pickings included sugar snap peas, which are lovely raw either as a snack or in a salad, lightly steamed or chucked in at the end of a stir fry to add a delicious crunch, broad beans, both young pods with baby beans and some larger more mature pods, and a variety of different coloured radishes.
We should get plenty more from all three of these before the season is over too, as the broad beans and sugar snap peas have plenty more pods maturing. When it comes to radishes, you can plant seeds until September, and it is best to plant little and often to ensure an ongoing supply of delicious crunchy specimens which go nicely in salads or on sandwiches. We chose to plant mixed varieties of radishes, which has given us white, red and white and pink roots which give a lovely range of colour throughout a salad bowl and a mix of strengths of flavour across varieties.
The fruit bushes and raspberry canes have also been more productive this year than last, with the first crop of raspberries being very tasty and the perfect sign of summer having arrived. In addition the red gooseberries were delicious; big juicy fruits hanging like jewels along the stem of the plant, and a decent supply of blackcurrants and redcurrants this year too. Not enough to make jam or puddings, but enough to give a good portion for with ice cream or yoghurt, and what better than to get the full fruity taste of the berries.