Everybody needs good neighbours, especially when there’s a glut
Its glut time. The neighbours know it and hide behind the curtains when they see me trudging up their path with a heavy carrier bag. ‘Oh no, it’s Nick with more veg!’
I don’t want to suggest my neighbours are burger eaters, the sort of people who think anything green is going to be bad for them, it’s just that you can have too much of a good thing. Or at least they can.
At first the neighbours are genuinely pleased to get a bag of organic veg. They peer in with obvious delight and make encouraging noises. Than as the allotment gets up steam the cries of pleasure seem a bit tinged with exasperation.
What can we do though? We have taken vegetables straight from plant to the compost heap and it seems so wrong. Especially now with such terrible famine in Somalia. We can’t eat everything ourselves and while some things can be preserved in the freezer many more can’t.
With the French beans currently running at around 3kg every two days, the climbing beans almost as plentiful and only just getting started, the courgettes seemingly growing when your back is turned, and mixed leaf lettuces everywhere we are like Canute trying to hold back the tide.
Giving bags to neighbours, either to their face or increasingly by leaving a bag on their doorstep late at night and running away, is a working solution. Out of sight, out of mind. If they then put them in their own little Lambeth compost bins at least we don’t see it.
Tomatoes will be next; we can see hundreds already forming on the Italian plants. They at least can be preserved as passata. And of course the runner beans are flowering heavily and soon will be fruiting thickly.
We quite like runner beans but you have to grow them anyway; no UK allotment is complete without proud wigwams of red flowers standing tall on it. Our south London allotment is as wonderfully multi-racial and multi cultural as you’d expect, but everyone grows runner beans. It’s a sign of belonging.
Perhaps we all dump our surplus on our poor neighbours? If so then it’s a sign of social cohesion and should be encouraged. Now I must go back to stuffing carrier bags, there are some neighbours yet to be victims of our bounty.