Everything in the garden is lovely - especially when you grew it yourself
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Our gardening columnist is enjoying the fruits of her labour this month – she just needs to keep those sweetcorn-loving badgers at bay…
If you have been organised enough to plant fruit and vegetables earlier in the year, you will be starting to reap the rewards now.
In our own vegetable plot we are starting to get ready to harvest the beetroot, and the peas, raspberries, lettuce and beans are already starting to make up a large part of our meal planning! It’s always difficult working out how many of each thing you will need, and inevitably you sometimes end up with a really bumper crop of something you can’t possibly use up, or not getting enough of the thing that you really hoped would do well - like potatoes.
Although we haven’t started to dig the potatoes yet, there are a couple of rows which are looking very healthy, and I’m hopeful that we’ll have enough to see us a fair way into the winter.
We’ve got sweetcorn, which we always enjoy - they taste best when taken straight from the plant and into the pot to boil - never do you ever get to taste corn as sweet as when it’s freshly picked.
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The problem is, that where we live, there is a bit of a problem with badgers... who love to sneak into the garden at night and help themselves to the vegetables, and they particularly seem to like the corn on the cob - so it’s a bit of a battle as to who can pick them first when they are ripe!
This year we have had the added pleasure of introducing my daughter to the idea of picking fruit.
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It’s a bit of a balancing act in teaching her what she can and can’t pick, so that she doesn’t think she can just pick and eat anything she finds in the garden - particularly when she’s been so enjoying the raspberries.
As she gets older it’ll be easier for her to understand which things are safe to eat, and which are definitely not - but at the moment, it’s a case of keeping a very close eye on her to make sure she doesn’t go picking any other berries!
Allotment holders up and down the country will be stopping in on a more regular basis in order to enjoy the freshest of their crops.
I can think of nothing more satisfying than popping into the allotment on the way home from work, to bring fresh vegetables home for tea.
Another reason why those who are tending vegetable gardens, and allotments, will be having to pay a great deal of attention to them at the moment, is that the warm weather we have been having, is playing havoc with how dry everything is.
With the importance of saving water being so high on many people’s agenda (not just for environmental reasons, but also now that most people have got a water meter - the expense of using water to keep your garden looking healthy, is not something that can be ignored), we have to start looking at alternative ways of watering the flowers and vegetables in this dry weather.
With the impact of global warming, and climate change, getting more obvious every year - colder winters, and warmer summers seem to be getting more frequent, and when lots of people are looking to live a more self-sustaining lifestyle, and the fashion for growing your own food becoming more popular, it is going to be really important for people to be able to conserve water and collect water for reuse.
It is actually very simple to save water in many ways - if you have any places where you are able to run a pipe from your guttering into a water butt - this could even be on a shed or outbuilding if you have any - you can collect rainwater.
Many local councils will have the option to buy subsidised water butt kits, enabling people to set up a water saving system relatively cheaply.
Rainwater which would otherwise have been wasted can so easily be used to fill watering cans for watering vegetables, and is so much more eco-friendly than using drinking water from a tap.
Things to do in the garden this month
* Harvest and enjoy the fruit and vegetables that you have grown. Don’t forget that there are many ways of keeping them for longer - including pickling beetroot, and freezing soft fruit like raspberries, or making jam from them.
* In spite of the dry weather seeming to slow down much of the rest of the growth in the garden (such as the lawn), the weeds don’t seem to have stopped, so making sure you keep on top of the weeding will make the job much easier when the rains start again.
* If you haven’t got vegetables and fruit of your own, there are many “self pick” farms locally where you can go and pick fruit to bring home.
* Whilst you maybe get a short break from needing to mow, you could take the time to edge the lawns - special edging tools will make the side of the lawn look much sharper.
* If you have an apple tree, it is sometimes advised to thin out the fruit - by just leaving two or three in each bunch, the fruit should be larger as a result.