Middle Class Problems: Allotment etiquette is tricky - maybe it's time to renew the organic veg-box order?


Yolanda Zappaterra
Friday 15 August 2014 20:08 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Courgettes the size of your arm, sweetcorn towering majestically, beanpoles twined gaily with sweet peas… High summer is an allotment-holder's dream, as you see all around the kind of produce that makes the cancelled veg box look like the stuff you find at the back of the salad drawer during a clear-out.

But hang on, what's that on the French beans? The aphids you thought had sated themselves in spring have returned with a vengeance. Back then, there were few plot neighbours around to spot you wielding the pesticide you've had in the shed for so long that it must be on a list of banned substances. But in the full glare of summer, when every plot-holder seems to be tending to the fruits of their labour, what can you do?

The only thing for it is to arrive at daybreak: no witnesses. This also gives you a jump on the waterpump before it becomes a trickle of its former self, resulting in looooong discussions around the slowly filling tanks about such thorny issues as the appropriate punishment for produce theft or leaving the gates open. And the tricky area of gifts.

Jaq and Jenni's tiny strawberry bed is so prolific that they've produced enough fruit tarts to stock all seven urban village fêtes within cycling distance and presented punnets all around. You want to repay their generosity, but close examination of your produce presents little that you can offer in return… a blighted bean, perhaps?

Maybe it's time renew the organic veg-box order after all. Local businesses need our support too, don't they?

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