Midsummer Madness

Allotment June 2015 looking down towards gateYou can tell the holiday season is almost upon us when you’re rushing frantically to get everything done before you go away. Gardeners should really probably take their holiday out of season, as spring/summer is such a busy time of year in the garden!

Ho, hum! Needs must. And I am getting there, honest! The allotment is now fully planted, despite complete germination failure of my beans, both runner and French. I’ve taken to planting them directly in the ground at the end of May/beginning of June in recent years, rather than in pots inside (due to lack of greenhouse/conservatory space!). Unfortunately, we had a sharp frost and very heavy hailstorms a week or so after I planted the seeds and the few brown and frazzled stems I can see suggest they germinated, but were frosted almost immediately. Never mind, I’ve planted more, albeit rather late, and I’ll have to hope they germinate without any issues. Late plantings usually catch up anyway and at least they won’t overlap with the peas.

Last weekend I also planted out my leeks, which were approaching pencil thickness in their seed trays. It’s a fiddly, but satisfying job, and I can now look forward to leeks from September right through to next Spring.

Allotment June 2015 leeks plantedStrawberries, gooseberries and broad beans are now in full flow, as is the basil back home in the conservatory, leading to the natural conclusion: broad bean pesto! This is one of my favourite combinations and one I try to make every year in season. Beware, as podding broad beans always makes your fingernails black – the gardener’s curse, I’m afraid!

Broad Bean Pesto

Broad beans June 20156oz broad beans (after podding – you’ll probably need at least 1lb unpodded weight!)

2oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3-4oz fresh basil

4fl.oz virgin olive oil

Seasoning

Steam or microwave the broad beans for 2-3 minutes then blanch under cold water.

Place all remaining ingredients apart from olive oil in a food processor and whizz until smooth, pushing down the sides as required.

Add the olive oil in a slow and steady stream until you have a thickish consistency.

Will keep for a couple of weeks, covered, in the fridge, or you can freeze.

Serve with pasta – I added it to softly fried onions, pancetta and a cream sauce tonight, with a handful of fresh broad beans thrown in to cook with the pasta for the last few minutes – sublime!

Basil for pesto Broad bean pesto

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