Bring on the puddings!

Summer has officially started. The weather hasn’t recognised the change, but thankfully the strawberries have. How do they do it? With almost perfect timing my allotment crop has matured at the same time as the summer solstice. I appreciate that they would be able to harmonise with the longer days and the cycle of the moon, but how do they know the days will not continue to carry on being longer and the nights shorter? This year they even seem to have rushed things a little. In my book they could have benefited for being green for longer, waiting for the sunshine to arrive and make them sweet. My crop of strawberries may shine brightly with their beauty, as always, but unfortunately it’s water rather than sweetness that dominates their taste. And as my allotment neighbour remarked, you can tell which strawberries are the sweetest of the crop as they are the ones the slugs have nibbled!Rhubarb has flourished on the plot this year. I’ve treated my rhubarb harshly, each year digging it up and moving it to a new site where it’s less in the way. I’ve never really loved eating rhubarb, with the honourable exception of rhubarb yoghurt which is probably my favourite supermarket yoghurt pot. So I never considered growing it until an allotment neighbour very kindly offered me a rhubarb crown from his established rhubarb bed. Three things have changed my opinion: rhubarb wine, rhubarb and apple chutney, and the pleasure of seeing my family eat rhubarb crumble. Actually there’s a fourth reason to, it’s probably the easiest of all crops to grow, simply requiring to drop the crown into a big hole filled with well rotten manure and compost in late Autumn. Hassle free, with big leaves crowding out weed growth and satisfying armfuls (if not sackfuls) of stalks from spring onwards.

There’s something fitting of starting the year’s harvest with puddings. After all the hard work of Spring with sowing, potting on and constant weeding, it seems fitting to jump straight to an energy boosting treat. And it’s a wonderful feeling to bring home crops that all the family enjoy eating – not always the case with some of the vegetables!