Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For November, we have been chatting to Dino and Sarah Franz who are at plot 30a at the Hertford Avenue allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

After almost five years on the waiting list, my husband was offered his first allotment late this past summer at Hertford Allotments.  The plot had been left untended for quite some time, but luckily some of the site reps and volunteers had kindly cut down many of the taller weeds to prevent seeds from spreading; old plastic was also covering some of the existing raised bed.

After several weekends of digging and clearing, we put down new wood chip on the old existing paths and brought in two tons of compost to bring up the soil levels within the beds.

Within three weeks of getting the allotment keys, we planted our first two plants: green beans and swiss chard.  (And this was much to the delight of the young allotment foxes, who immediately dug everything in that one single bed every other night for a couple weeks!).

We found an old shed and fence panels on offer on Freecycle and put those up.  As the beds were cleared, we planted some purple sprouting broccoli, perpetual spinach, and parsnips; we also just removed our (inherited) dahlias after the first frost.  We knew we had quite a few dahlias, but when clearing the beds, we ended up with 20 plants we hope will regrow next year!

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

This month has been clearing the remaining beds for the winter plants; we also planted out all of our garlic and popped in some radicchio.  We also finished putting up the last of the fence panels and hope to finish shelves in the shed in the next few weeks.

What crop has done well this year?

This year, the crop that did the best was our inherited dahlias followed closely by our green beans – next year will hopefully have a wider variety!

What are you planning to grow next season?

Along with the dahlias, we’re also hoping the existing gooseberry and raspberries plants will also come back next year along with a few asparagus plants we know are lurking in one bed.  We are looking to plant onions, leeks, a few squash plants on the go, and maybe even some flint corn.

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

Our overwinter cabbage is doing amazingly well, so we’ve been experimenting with different recipes.  Our all time favourite so far is cabbasta – cabbage with pasta – with a simple and easy recipe.  (https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes/cabbasta-anyone)

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

Dino cycles and Sarah runs marathons and also loves website design (and redesigned the BHAS website earlier this summer).