If life gives you lemons, they say, you should make lemonade (though I actually spent the afternoon making apple juice in our newly delivered 250ml bottles).
They don’t tell you what to do to the person who actually hands you the fruit, but if you’ve read my posts before and have a reasonably active imagination I’m sure you can work out that I won’t be handing them over on a silver salver.
In short, our growing area has been repossessed by the farmer who has decided that he can make a better job of running it than we can. He waited until we went away for a few days then moved in to “clean up” – a process that included felling most of the cape gooseberries (currently selling at around £10/kilo) and some of the tomatoes.
To be fair, he’s not wrong, it wasn’t a traditionally tidy allotment, but you need weeds for wildlife and foraging and you need nettles for nettle soup. We haven’t had the time to work it properly this year and since becoming enthused by vegetables, the farm has been able to put a lot of labour into tidying their half of the plot, making ours look even worse.
He’s a personable sort, prey to sudden enthusiasms and difficult to fall out with, but when you come back to find useable crops dumped on the compost heap it’s hard not to think bad thoughts..
However, I’m not going to waste time, energy or health worrying about it. We still have our own polytunnel and “vertical veg” just became my main interest.
Second lemon – the Forest Schools have stripped all the blackberry bushes between us and them. There are, as I always tell people, very few rules of foraging. One, in order of importance, is only put it in your mouth if you know what it is. Two, almost as important, is never to strip a plant – leave some for other foragers and for the wild creatures who rely on it for food. It’s a question of manners for us – a question of life or death for the animals.
The third is about never picking below three feet high in a dog walking area.
Next year I’m going to go down early in the picking season and pick what we need. I’m then going to film myself applying copious amounts of personal liquid waste (as Bob Flowerdew calls it) to the brambles. Hopefully I’ll be able to provide my own after my current problem is sorted out. If not I have access to gallons of urine each week from the separator toilets.
After they’ve stripped the bushes I’m going to blog on the subject, provide them with a link to the film clip and sit back smiling.