Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For September, we have been chatting to John Hynd who is at plot 76 at the Priory allotment site. John won both Plot of the Year and Best Show Person of the Year at The Annual Show this year. With his wife Monica, they were best borough newcomers in 2001, 2002 – borough 3rd place, 2003 – borough 2nd place, 2004 – ditto, 2005 – Borough Champions.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

1. Monica and I acquired our allotment in late 1999. We started clearing it in October of that year. At that time we had a choice of 8 derelict plots on the Priory site to chose from. It took Monica and I and another member of our family about a year to the time when we felt that we could start planting. We also, in 2002 or thereabouts took on the plot next to us. Monica and I had two plots that were side by side up until 2008, when we gave up the second plot. So we have been on our original plot for 20 years.

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

2. At this time of the year for us it is mainly clearing plots of this year’s plants & crops. Harvesting the late potatoes and what is left of the autumn raspberries. Also this year tomato blight has been rather bad, so trying to dispose of the diseased tomato plants has been more difficult, because there is a ban on burning anything, and so everything has to be bagged up and disposed of, which is quite difficult because the authorities have not thought about providing a facility for disposing of diseased plant material safely.

What crop has done well this year?

3. On our plot (outside:) corn, brassicas, runner beans, beetroot (although some did bolt early because of dry weather) In the greenhouse everything did exceptionally well – peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and aubergines. Aubergines grown outside have been very slow (not harvested yet) likewise the butternut squashes, but now they are coming along very nicely. The Dahlias have been fantastic and most of the other flowers have done very well (soft fruits weren’t as good as they could have been).

What are you planning to grow next season?

4. More of the same, with the addition of strawberries, which we have grown before but decided to dig the strawberry bed up grow another variety of potato.

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

5. We pickle and make chutneys. Also we freeze as much as we can and give away produce to our family and friends and other allotmenteers. Making piccalilli is my favourite.

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

I make Jewellery, a bit of silversmithing. Occasionally static steam engines (working models).