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04.08.2009 19:57 Age: 5 yrs
Category: food

Summer on the allotment

July is certainly the month of plenty. At the beginning of the month we are harvesting broad beans, strawberries, lettuce, spring onions, the early beetroot and even over wintering Japanese onions. By the end of the month we are having difficulty keeping up with the amount of runner beans, French beans, courgettes, lettuce, chard, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries appearing by the day.

Our gooseberries and blackcurrants have been harvested and what we haven't been able to make use of is in the freezer, ready for when there is time to make jam.

At this time of year everything is so busy growing that most of our work involves weeding, mowing the paths and making sure the plot isn't engulfed by all the new growth so that we can make our way from on end to the other without needing a machete.

This time of plenty brings with it its own difficulties - what to do with gluts? Obviously, we give away as much produce as we can to friends, relations, neighbours and colleagues, but sometimes we still have more than we know what to do with! One source of inspiration is Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall who has some great ideas for dealing with gluts. Only last night I used up more than 1kg of rather overgrown courgettes making a fabulous courgette pasta sauce - the recipe can be found in his 'The River Cottage Year'.

Another job that is in urgent need of attention is the elderflower champagne. It has been fermenting in demi-jons for more than a month now and I must bottle it this weekend if we are to have a sparkling tipple to get us through to Christmas.

We also have a couple of dozen basil plants, which are now ready to be harvested in order to make pesto. I always leave a couple of large leaves at the base of the plant in order for it to regenerate over the next few weeks, when there should be enough growth to make a second batch. Pesto is so easy, take a handful of basil leaves and another handful of lightly roasted pine nuts and put them in a blender with 2 cloves of garlic. Give them a wiz and then put the resulting paste in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and Parmesan cheese to taste. We often freeze our pesto leaving out the Parmesan cheese which can be added later.

If you grow your own you will always eat very well at this time of year!

©2009 Libby Hawkins, all rights reserved