The allotment is awash with colour and alive with the sound of buzzing insects. A carpet of bright orange pot marigolds sweeps through the flower border; each face is turned upwards radiating the days warm sunshine.
The foamy cream flowers of English mace, weighted down by their own enthusiasm, tumble over the edges of the plot like gentle waves on the seashore. I love this herb. Little known and completely underrated it’s leaves have a flavour like nutmeg; I use it to liven up potato salad. It is, however the flowers I grow it for as it flowers it’s socks off all summer long and seems to last forever when I pick it and bring it indoors.
A chance packet of wildflower seeds, found in an old tin in the shed, has produced a gorgeous display of cornflowers and borage and its amongst the borage that the buzzing sound intensifies. The bees love this sky-blue, star shaped flower even more than I do!
They love the courgette flowers too and so do I because each giant yellow flower holds the promise of delicious fruit. These plants have to be carefully observed; take your eye off them for a day or two and the slender courgettes will soon turn into marrows. Not that this is a bad thing, a stuffed marrow can never be wrong.
So far we have been vigilant and no courgettes have run amok. Summer salads, full of seared courgettes and flavoured with lemon thyme have been enjoyed while the excess has been turned into my favourite relish.
Courgette relish is the best way to preserve a glut of courgettes and is a major staple in the Broccoli household. A dollop on a cracker,topped with a bit of cheese really does hit the spot and goes very well with a dash of port.
Courgette relish recipe
1 kilo courgettes
1 green pepper
2 onions,thinly sliced
2 tbsp salt
500ml cider vinegar
3 tsp dry mustard powder
3 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp cornflour
Finely chop the courgettes, onion, peppers and apples and put in a large pan with all the other ingredients. Bring to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes until thickened. Ladle into sterile jars and store in a cool dark place for a month before using.