I don’t know about you, but I get a little lazy on the veg plot this time of year.
I can’t help this. After all the graft of spring and early summer, I naturally kick back and relax, because summer is what you’ve worked for. The gluts are here, and they’re to be enjoyed.
It is of course wonderful to have a lovely, neat plot with edged paths, but it’s all for nothing if you miss out on enjoying the wonderful harvesting times.
I’ll confess that every year, I have to remind myself of this sentiment. When I do, I immediately feel weight being lifted from my shoulders. Keeping up is hard to keep up in high Summer. The weeds are prolific, grass needs cutting weekly and spring plants need pulling out.
Looking over my plot at the weekend left me slightly glum. I have a kitchen full of homegrown food, but I hadn’t been doing my chores. The vegetable garden was scruffy. I was letting myself down. What would people say if they visited now? ‘I thought you were meant to be okay at this veg growing business,’ I imagined them say after expecting to see some kind of show plot.
However, an evening’s fun of cooking and cleaning a harvest soon set me right again and I’m liberated once more. Who cares about the mess? I’ve worked really hard for these halcyon summer months when veg just grows. Now is the time to sit back and admire, drinking in the fruits of my labour. I’ll tidy up in the winter.
For the next few weeks, I’ll do some watering and sow a batch of late seeds such as pak choi, French beans and spring greens. Maybe I’ll work my hoe for 10 minutes here and there, but I’m going to spend most of my time unashamedly focused on harvesting.
Mind you, harvesting is a job in itself during August. There is a fine line between French and runner beans turning from tender to tough. Miss a courgette one day, and a marrow will be in its place the next.
Put off harvesting soft fruit, and very quickly you’ll have over ripe fruit or blackbirds with full stomachs.
The most important thing at this time of year is to get the veg when at its absolute best. An immaculate plot means nothing if you’ve not taken advantage of the abundant harvest around you. I enjoy harvesting at the end of an allotment shift, almost as a reward for my morning’s work, like finishing a bike ride with the biggest hill, or making the last scoop of dinner the tastiest bit.
So if you’re like me, and worry about tidiness, just think of the bounty awaiting next time you walk to the plot. Relish the romantic summer months, and forget those weeds. You’ve earned it!