Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For June, we have been chatting to Gill and Simon Silvester who is at plot 6 at the Palewell Park allotment site.
How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?
We got our plot in 1992. Allotments were largely out of fashion then and there was little or no waiting list.
What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?
Most sowing and planting is now done but we have recently planted out sweetcorn and sown swede. Mainly now it seems to be weeding and watering – and harvesting of course.
What crop has done well this year?
We love to grow spinach but it bolts very quickly if sown in spring or early summer on our light soil. A few years ago I tried the variety Medania which is one of the varieties suitable for late sowing. We sow ours in October each year. It does need protection over the winter but when the weather warms up in spring it grows prolifically. Surprisingly it did not start to bolt until the end of May. Our asparagus and globe artichokes also did well this year.
What are you planning to grow next season?
We try to grow a wide range of veg so that we can find something at most times of the year. It gets tricky in late winter although there might well be something left over from the summer in the freezer. Also we plan to plant new summer raspberries as our old canes are old and unproductive.
What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?
Risotto Verde – not a recipe to follow exactly but a starting point. Gill uses whatever vegetables are in season so it is different every time.
Partially cook a mix of early summer veg (peas, broad beans, asparagus, broccoli etc.) in minimum amount of lightly salted simmering water. Strain and set aside reserving the liquid.
Gently sweat a thinly sliced onion in a dry frying pan until it starts to change colour. Add a little unsalted butter and short grain rice and stir until evenly coated.
Toss in roughly chopped mixed herbs – parsley, marjorum, sage, thyme.
Gradually add veg water, a glug of white wine, veg or chicken stock until the rice is fully cooked.
Stir in the veg except for a few pieces for garnish, a couple of handfuls of chopped spinach and a knob of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and leave to rest for 5 mins before serving topped with the prettiest pieces of veg and slithers of parmesan.
In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?
We are beekeepers and also enjoy going to concerts. Keeping up with weeding and watering the allotment can be tricky during the Proms season.