A harvest well worth waiting for

This year's crop. EMN-160926-104558001
This year's crop. EMN-160926-104558001
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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

This year’s foray into raised beds and vegetable growing has been an eye-opener.

I thought I would share my thoughts on how things have progressed and what lessons I’ve learned so far.

Lesson one

Pay attention to the advice on seed packets regarding spacing.

The seeds may be tiny but if it says ‘leave two feet between each row’ a paltry six inches won’t be enough.

Things do grow and spread at an alarming rate. Plants also grow vertically: proper support is needed if you are to give peas a chance.

Lesson two

Only plant things your family will eat. I have an abundance of cucumbers but they give my husband indigestion.

Lesson three. Only plant things you know how to cook. I was entranced by the photos on the packet so purchased an unusual variety of beetroot despite nobody being that keen on it and me being unwilling to boil it for an eternity.

I ran out of ideas once I’d grated the young beets into a salad. Ditto spinach chard which was just monstrous and scary.

Lesson four

What was it Shakespeare said? ‘Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die.’

The Bard was talking about love, of course, but the food analogy is apt: too much of a good thing in the vegetable patch and you will soon tire of it.

Yes, I’m talking to you, courgettes. Courgette soup, roasted courgettes, spiral courgettes.

Then, when you’re not looking, they turn into marrows and you’re stuffed.

Lesson five

Remember what worked well and plant them again next year.

I was very impressed with my spring onions, which initially looked very skinny and weak, but turned into wonderful specimens.

Likewise, little gem lettuce will be very welcome next season. Strawberries have been relegated.

Lesson six

Don’t forget to praise your perennials which do their thing year after year without any fuss.

I love my raspberry canes and there will be a period of mourning when the final tub of berries is picked.

Lesson Seven

Lots of other people will also have a glut, meaning it can be tricky to off-load your surplus.

Find a friend who has planted different things to you so they don’t go into hiding when you turn up at the door with another prickly cucumber.

Lesson Eight

Offer your apples to a friend with a press so he can take them off your hands and turn them into cider.

With a bit of luck, you’ll be given a few bottles to quaff the following year. That’s a harvest well worth waiting for.