For years allotments were out of favour. No-one wanted them, and patches of mud with a shed at one end and weeds everywhere else went to waste. Then suddenly gardening became the new rock and roll, and everyone who didn't want to dig up their lawn wanted their own council-run patch of mud. The waiting lists grew faster than the cabbages. Now, after more than three years on a waiting list, Neil Shaw has been given his own patch of green and pleasant land.

Monday, 2 August 2010


I love the smell of onions in the morning, reminds me of...victory.

The crop is in, and it looks good - a barrow-full of onions which drew appreciative looks from others on the plot when I staggered with the heavy load to my car this weekend.

The car, the house and everything within a one-mile radius of my house now smells like onions.

Harvesting them was simple, they were ready to come up and an hour's work transferred them from soil to barrow.

The garlic next to them needed a bit more digging, and some of the potato plants further down were looking decidedly yellow so I took a fork to them for a bit of investigative surgery.

And they were great, much better than last year's offering - big, yellow, waxy, healthy, thin and good looking skins and very tasty when roasted for Sunday lunch.

I plan to go back this afternoon to dig up a few more...

Which leads to the main problem, what to do with the glut.

So far our freezer is full of gooseberries and raspberries, our cupboards are full of apples, the garage is full of onions and I haven't quite worked out what to do with the potatoes or blackberries yet and we're still waiting on carrots, leaks, swedes, plums and tomatos.

We have a huge jam pan on loan, and many people could be finding themselves with a jar of apple and onion chutney this Christmas.

If you want one, be nice to me. If you want two then get on my bad side.

We had apple charlotte for pudding this Sunday, as a change from gooseberry crumble which we've been eating for as long as I can remember.

But on the positive side the shopping bill was about half its usual size this week as I avoided most of the fruit and veg aisle.

Plan is to head online and find recipes and instructions for proper storage. Any suggestions of what to do with excess veg will be welcome (rude suggestions will be recycled into insults for future use)

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