|~ Chamomile growing in clumps on the pebbly beach ~|
As I see it, there are two main issues in a summertime community garden: ensuring the veg get the right amount of water and to hope that veg and flowers are harvested as appropriate - which, actually, is what we all worry about, isn't it? I asked neighbours to help themselves to courgettes, carrots, beetroot, onions and please keep picking the sweet peas; the beans had not yet flowered and the tomatoes were still green so those would wait for my return. It's best to designate one person to oversee watering so that the plants aren't deluged morning and night - or forgotten entirely - but, apparently, it rained almost every day while I was away so that task was taken care of by kindly Mother Nature. (The copious plants on my Edible Balcony were taken care of by a trusty friend.)
The picking of produce was another matter entirely. It seems that my time in the garden has earmarked the space as being my own and (most) people are loathe to help themselves for fear of being seen to overstep the mark. (On reflection, this is probably good.) Despite cutting several courgettes before I left, and telling folks to help themselves, most were still there when I returned, as were a few handfuls of raspberries still hanging on the canes and other veg untouched.
After a (blustery but dry) week away, my first thoughts after unpacking were to pop down to the garden where I found plenty of weeds, beans covered in purple flowers (hurrah!), radishes ready to eat (3 weeks after sowing), beetroot needing lifting (some about to bolt which I'll leave for seed), recently sown peas clambering half way up the netting - and a 20 inch courgette which made a nice 'baked and stuffed marrow' supper!
The sweet peas, sadly, have all but died off with just a few Cupani left. As the weather has been chill and overcast in the last week, this somehow seems symbolic of the slow gentle slide down into autumn - although surely mid-August is too early for this?
And where did I go for my fresh sea air? To Littlehampton, a small harbour town in West Sussex, located between Chichester and Brighton and now plying a fine, but not overwhelming, tourist trade. It's an old fashioned town where, I've since discovered, the tiny cinema is in an old windmill on the seafront. More obviously, the harbour is full of brightly coloured fishing boats and ice cream shops, fresh fish is sold on Rope Walk (the quayside) and you can sit overlooking the Blue Flag beach on the longest bench in the world. This seating continues along the seafront and was installed over the last couple of years at an eye-watering £1 million.
A week goes so quickly so I missed seeing the Art Deco shelters in the award winning municipal gardens, but I did manage a hike along the seafront towards Rustington where the now-pebbly beach was studded with marine vegetation. What could better?