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This Sunday, 21st July… what to do!

Strawberries

It’s been a great year for most soft fruit, including strawberries. Once you have picked your last summer strawberry, cut back all foliage (taking care not to damage the crowns) to leave a stump of approximately ten centimetres. Compost the discarded leaves and any straw that was used as a mulch. Water the surrounding soil to encourage the growth of fresh new leaves.

Herbs

Now is the time to pick herbs for drying. They are best picked early in the morning, when the dew has just lifted. Suitable herbs include mint, lavender, rosemary and lemon balm. You can hang them upside down in bunches in a dry, well-ventilated and dark place. Or I strip the leaves from the branches and put them in an open tray in the airing cupboard. They are ready when the leaves are crisp to the touch, and may be stored in air tight containers. For more information on using herbs visit the Garden Organic website www.gardenorganic.org.uk Or even better, ask one of the wise women (so to speak) in our allotment group, such as Bridget, Juyna, or anyone called Jane.

Communal stuff…and the future

As many of you know, I will stop co-ordinating Grow Our Own soon, and Bridget will step down from her co-ordinating role at the end of September. I have really enjoyed being at the centre of events at the allotment. And I have met some amazing people, and grown some amazing vegetables. But I do need to find some more paid work and have started working for two new social enterprises, Bullying Stinkz and Greener Growth. I will still be around to mentor less experienced growers, manage the composting and of course grow my own food. This all means that we need more growers to take on unpaid responsibilities, and we need your ideas on how the project can flourish in the future. For example, should the current co-ordinator’s role be split into discrete tasks, are there services that we provide that are not needed/too demanding on volunteer time? Please e-mail your thoughts or talk to me or Bridget. We will of course update you regularly on what is going on.  

Orache

You may have noticed this plant springing up around the allotment. I had thought that it was a relatively recent arrival in the UK. But Jane C tells me (from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book) that it is…… “an ancient pot herb of Asia and temperate Europe; on the royal court menu in 1430 – so it’s been eaten in England for six hundred years. But it went out of fashion about three centuries ago. The herbalist Philip Miller writes in 1741 that you should only eat the young leaves “for when it is run to seed it is very strong””.

Clive

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Jim