Grow your own to keep up supplies

Lemons are coming on nicely for pancakes.
Lemons are coming on nicely for pancakes.

Vegetables, it seems, are never far from the headlines.

Last week it was a report that the Covent Garden market price per tray for certain veggies had increased by 400 per cent, from £6 to £24.

Not for the basic greens – cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, from Lincolnshire – but those associated with a Mediterranean diet that are out of season in the UK. Spinach, peppers, cucumbers, courgettes, etc, were in short supply, it was reported, because of bad weather in Spain and southern Europe.

Armed with this news, I browsed the produce at a supermarket with price and provenance in mind. It was clear that there had been no rapid price increase and several edibles relevant to an out of season diet came from countries other than Spain.

There were strawberries (Morocco), blueberries (Chile), dates (USA), cucumbers (Canaries), tomatoes (Holland), and other sources involving air miles.

Although the Spanish crop failure, which also included coffee, does not appear to have impacted on prices locally yet, it did provide food for thought.

Keep growing basic seasonal vegetables, but consider increasing the range of others that could be stored. A starting point would be growing more peppers that develop and crop readily in the summer greenhouse.

I’m already practising with citrus and coffee trees. They stand in containers, overwintering in the conservatory. The coffees produce beans every year and the lemon is continually flowering.

First up for use on Shrove Tuesday is the lemon. The two Arabian coffee plants have really matured and are dripping with beans ready for roasting and grinding. The total crop might only be enough to fill a jar. However, from tiny acorns….