Scaling a mountain of EU proportions

Life on the allotment with Sheena Grant

ANYONE who thought food mountains only existed in European Union-land should think again.

As of last weekend I have my very own kale mountain.

It’s not something I’m proud of but in my defence I haven’t been paid one penny of taxpayers’ (or anyone else’s) money to produce it and I’m not making any profit out of my over-production.

Even so, I feel there must a political party somewhere which would - and should - object to the sheer wanton wastefulness of this food mountain and if there isn’t, I’m almost minded to form one myself such is my outrage at my own misdemeanour. The kale mountain took shape over the space of a couple of hours last Sunday. It came from a bed of strapping flat and curly-leaved plants that had grown more like a fabled turnip than a member of the brassica family during the winter, spilling on to paths and even impinging on the emerging broad bean plants.

The soilmate and I have eaten more than our fair share of kale over the last few months and very nice it was too but there comes a point when even the most tasty and useful of vegetables outlives its tastiness and usefulness.

In the kale’s case this happened last Sunday.

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The recent good weather had brought a growth spurt that refused to stop and to be honest it was starting to look a little sorry for itself. In short, it had gone to seed. Literally. In addition to that, the vegetable bed it was occupying was needed for this year’s potato crop. The kale had to go.

I picked as many leaves as I thought the Grant household, the soilmate and assorted family members could reasonably consume before screaming for mercy and then I set about the job of removing the rest.

There I was, pulling and digging it from the ground and piling it, monstrous stalk upon stalk, in a corner by the gate until it took on a mountainous form of EU proportions.

I felt bad. So bad I toyed with the idea of offering free kale to passers-by by. But by then it was so covered in soil from my battles to wrest it from the ground that I figured no-one would want it.

There was only one solution: feed it to the allotment chickens.

Yes, I know it’s not original. I know it’s what the Eurocrats often did with their own food mountains and I know it’s a waste of food grown for human consumption but at least it’s a use.

It isn’t the first and I fear it won’t be the last crop to end its life in such a way. Either it’s impossible to eat all you produce or you wait months for a crop to be ready to harvest only for it to all ripen at once and then go to seed within days.

Such a fate befell a neighbouring plot holder’s spring cabbages and our sprouting broccoli looks like it could well go the same way.

We’ve been waiting months for even a glimmer of a purple sprout and now we’re all but overwhelmed.

But there are some compensations. We may not be able to eat it all but what we can get through sure tastes good.