Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For September, we have been chatting to Caroline (Ronnie) Bendall and is at plot 51 (also known as Area 51!) at the Hertford Avenue allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

I was first shown the plot, commonly known as Area 51, in January 2017.  I was immediately in love with the uniqueness of this space between the public path and Beverley Brook. As Susan showed me round she explained that it was a big plot that needed a lot of work.  Was I sure,  as some other smaller plots would be available shortly?  I was sure.  Having worked two previous allotments as I helper I was keen to have one of my own and this was really the one!

What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?

We have been on holiday for two weeks and I came back delighted that beans, cucumbers, raspberries, courgettes, beets, salads and potatoes are still in full production.  Now I am tidying up and making plans for autumn and next year. Meanwhile my husband Austin is busy making some more rustic seating from logs and discarded planks. This is part of the fun of an allotment and apart from the thrill of growing and harvesting ones own produce, the best part is getting to know the many friends who share a love of this special site.  Open Day and two get togethers are also on this month’s calendar for us.

What crop has done well this year?

In the spring we were happy to see the beautiful blossom on the large quince tree.  It is laden with fruit now and has me searching for recipes. My Japanese Wineberry has taken off and received many questions from passers by on the footpath.  So many crops seemed to love the hot summer we have had.

What are you planning to grow next season?

I am hoping to try out some more unusual veggies and maybe a kiwi fruit. I am making a decorative herb and flower bed and have to work on that as well as training two little apple trees I helped graft while I volunteered at Fulham Palace garden.

What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?

That is a hard one as I love cooking. I make an easy pesto with the strong rocket I grew from seeds brought back from our son’s garden in Slovenia. There are many versions of pesto but it is such an easy and delicious thing to have in the fridge.  Mine is made with: rocket,  parmesan,  pine nuts and garlic (also from the allotment).  Put all in a food processer with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?

I once had a catering business and enjoy cooking. After running my own specialist stationery and gift shop for many years I studied paper making at Morley College. I would like to try plant fibres from the plot to make some stationery.  I love taking photos,  fruit, flowers and veggies,  and sheds and benches, tend to feature quite a lot!

Our thanks to Ronnie for taking the time to answer our questions this month and provide a look into her allotment world.  If you’d like to be interviewed for next month’s newsletter, please contact us!