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Gayton gardener Jamie Marsh on veg for roasts and keeping on top of weeds

In the second of his weekly Jamie’s Little Allotment columns, Jamie Marsh talks Sunday roasts and weeding...

Harvesting on the allotment is in full swing now. Everything that I planted over the last few weeks and months is now ready to enjoy. The carrots, parsnips and beetroot are bulging above the soil and the spinach and chard are leafy and lush. The brassicas are, well yes, the brassicas.

Let’s talk about brassicas: that’s cabbages, cauliflowers, kale, nasturtiums etc to most of us. These are the favourite three-course meal for the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar. Just when I thought we would have some lovely savoy cabbages and a few cauliflowers, I started noticing clumps of tiny little yellow eggs. Turns out, they were the eggs of the pre-mentioned cabbage white.

Some of Jamie's veg ready for the Sunday roast
Some of Jamie's veg ready for the Sunday roast

I’ve since found out, it’s just 14 days from when the eggs are laid, to when the minute caterpillars start munching. To sum up, 90% of my brassicas looked like paper doilies within two weeks. Another project for next year: better netting.

Anyway, back to the good stuff. I don’t usually have a list of vegetables to pick for dinner, but Sunday, we had a lovely piece of lamb, so I was thinking Sunday roast. I’ve still got some main crop potatoes in the ground, that’s the roast potatoes sorted. Then the obligatory carrots, I’ll boil those with some sugar and butter.

Now what else? Chard. I think I’ll chop the stems and fry them in a hot pan with olive oil and my own garlic. While they are cooking, I’ll shred the leaves and then toss them in at the last minute. One more thing, ahh, yes, the Uchiki Kuri squash which are hanging from my squash arch are looking fantastic. They are definitely ripe because the leaves are starting to die off and the stem of the squash is drying out and cracking. Sliced and roasted with a drizzle of maple syrup and some fresh thyme will be just perfect.

It is important to keep on top of weeding
It is important to keep on top of weeding

Now I have my lovely basket of gorgeous veggies ready for dinner, it’s time to do a few jobs. Keeping on top of the weeds is a must, and at this time of year, it really doesn’t take long for them to take over and become a real pain. So, little and often is the key I find, and the easiest way is to take a good sharp hoe and just hoe under the surface of the soil, chopping off the small weeds, obviously steering around any veggies.

I have a small handheld cultivator/hoe as well, which is really good for manoeuvring in and around tight spaces. If the weeds are tiny, I don’t even bother to remove them. They will soon shrivel up and disappear.

Now it’s a different matter if you haven’t kept on top of the weeding and they have got away from you a bit. You will need to get down on your hands and knees and pull them out, maybe loosening the soil first, trying not to leave any roots behind. With most weeds, if you leave a piece of root behind, it will start to grow again.

But the main thing I recommend is whatever you do, do not let them go to seed because if they do, you will have major problems. There’s an old saying I’ve learnt: “One year’s seeds, seven years weeds”, basically translating to: the seeds can last for several years just germinating whenever they like.

Next week I’ll share with you what’s happening on the allotment and what I’m sowing to keep the harvesting going through the winter months.

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