At plot 6… with Simon and Gill Silvester

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.

Method

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.

May Open Day 2019

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Open Day, we had lovely weather and plenty of delicious tea and cake was had by all! Below are a selection of photos from the day.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered on the day and brought cakes, plants and gifts for the raffle. We are also thankful to the Twickenham and Thames Valley Beekeepers’ Association and Friends of Barnes Common.

Thank you to Sarah for taking all these photos on the day.

The Plant Sale

Art activities for children.

Learning about beekeeping from the Twickenham and Thames Valley Bee-keeper’s Association

Finding out more about the work of Friends of Barnes Common

Lots of delicious cakes, tea and drinks!

Lots of prizes as part of the raffle.

This year we also had a tool sharpening service for plot holders.

At Plot… 52 with Diane McLellan

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For May, we have been chatting to Diane McLellan who is at plot 52 at the Priory allotment site. Diane is also site rep for this area at Priory.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

I have had the same allotment on Priory since 2002

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

Weeding the asparagus bed! I always forget and then have to do it by hand as they start poking through. Also weeding the strawberries and digging over beds that have been covered to get them ready for seeds and plantlets I have started at home.

What crop has done well this year?

We are in April now and I still have lots of strawberries and gooseberries in the freezer from last year, as it was such a good year for soft fruit. I am going to have make lots of crumble & compote to use them up before the next lot starts coming in. There is masses of pear blossom at the moment and the rhubarb is coming up well.

What are you planning to grow next season?

I have recently got interested in Korean food and so am researching plants I can grow for that, so lots of radishes, herbs, salad, green beans, long leaf green onions and cabbages – though I have had no luck with cabbages up until now!

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

I grow a lot of soft fruit and love using them for jams, puddings, cordials and liqueurs. A family favourite is Gooseberry Meringue pie.

See the recipe Diane uses here for Goosberry Meringue pie.

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

As an artist printmaker I am always taking photos on the allotment to use for printmaking. I am currently producing a series of lithographs based on dandelions and bees.

Photo above shows Diane’s dog Ripley ‘helping’ to pick gooseberries and raspberries!

At plot 37 … with Halina Kessler

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For April, we have been chatting to Halina Kessler who has just moved from a plot at The Triangle to plot 37 at Hertford Avenue.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

I have had an allotment for about 5 years. I have just moved plots from the Triangle to Hertford (I’ve always wanted to be by Beverly Brook).
Taking on someone else’s plot can be a bit of a challenge.  You inherit both their successes and their failures.  This plot has wonderful fruit trees next to the brook but they haven’t been pruned for a good few years and there are some other overgrown areas. They will have to wait until later in the year for them to be sorted out.  I’m looking forward to apricots but not sure if the tree will actually produce any.

What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?
I have been sorting out the paths and trying to decide whether or not to keep the old grass paths or to replace them.  Right now I’m sticking with the grass – it smells so wonderful when it is cut and is a great contribution to the bio diversity of the plot.  I need to re line the pond with a proper pond liner.  I want to try and make a good home for frogs and newts as they are my best slug deterrent.  I’m also going to try and plant some new fruit bushes as the existing ones are on their last legs.

What are you planning to grow next season?
At home I’ve been planting seeds. I’m so tempted to plant more at the plot but up till now it has been too cold.  I’ll be planting lots of beans, courgettes and tomatoes. My favourites are yellow wax beans. I usually plant a dwarf french bean (brittle beurre wax) but this year I’m going to try some climbing ones as well.  I want to try butternut squash again too, last year the badgers ate my only small ones.  I’m going to try some aubergine from seed as well this year.  I also grow a lot of herbs, especially dill.

What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?
I think dill is one of the most versatile herbs not only is it wonderful in sauces for fish but it is great in salads.  The best thing of all though is to put fresh dill heads as they are coming into seed in with new potatoes as they cook.  Divine.

In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?
I love cooking (I’ve been responsible for the food at the last couple of open days)  I try to use as many local ingredients as possible. Last year we used allotment tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers in our menu.  We would always love to use anything plot holders have grown, so come Show Day in September let me know if you have anything to contribute and we will happily take it.

At plot… 23/24 with Mary Enache (nee Thorp)

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For March, we have been chatting to Mary Enache (nee Thorp) who has a plot 23/24 at the Hertford allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

I’ve had Plot 23 for about 30 years and  Plot 24 for about 25 years

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

This month I’ll be clearing all the beds of weeds etc., raking in Blood, Fish & Bone and mulching with Country Natural manure. Also pruning apple and pear trees, cutting down autumn raspberries, tying in blackberries, summer raspberries and Tay berries and tidying up strawberry plants before forking in Blood, Fish and Bone and surrounding with manure.

What crop has done well this year?

Tomatoes, onions and garlic.

What are you planning to grow next season?

Already in the ground: Rhubarb, Globe Artichokes, Asparagus, Japanese Onion sets, garlic, and Broad Beans, Swiss Chard, Lovage and other perennial herbs. I’ll be growing this year: More Onions, Leeks, Perpetual Spinach, Tomatoes(cherry, medium and beef), Courgettes, Peppers, Chillis, French Beans (climbing and dwarf), salad crops (Lettuce, Rocket, Radish, Spring Onions), small pumpkins, Peas, Mangetout, Runner-Beans, Aubergine, Potatoes (first, early and main crops) Sweet-Corn, Parsnips, Carrots and Kohlrabi, Florence-Fennel and other annual herbs (Dill, Parsley).

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

Constantin my Romanian husband does the cooking.

Romanian Potato Cake (grated potatoes, chopped onions, dill, grated cheese and eggs, sliced tomatoes……. And Vegetable Soup flavoured with lovage, dill, garlic, Bors (a liquid made from fermented maize leaves and rye bread) and Zacusca (a paste made from tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, chillis, aubergines, peppers).

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

Local and garden history and all things Romanian. And I love to cook when Constantin allows ( he really likes roast parsnips with rosemary).

Remembering Joyce Dixon

This month we are sad to tell you that Joyce Dixon died in the early hours of Boxing Day – she was almost 97. Mary Enache remembers Joyce well and wrote this about her for us to share with you all:

“Joyce Dixon was a local lady who had plots on our sites for over 50 years and was an Honorary Committee Member of BHAS. She wrote that during WW2 her family worked a plot on the Bank of England Sports Ground and then on Palewell Common in the “Dig For Victory” campaign. She remembered having to fetch water in a bucket from the Beverley Brook to water the vegetables. Later she had an allotment on Hertford Avenue near to me but on the Beverley Brook side where she cultivated her plot well into her 80s. I remember her as being a lovely lady like her allotment which was always full of beautiful flowers and magnificent vegetables.”

Trading shed – new stock February 2019

This month at the Trading shed we have new in stock ‘Enviromesh’ (ultra fine insect netting).

You can also still get seed potatoes to start chitting, onion sets and shallots at the Trading Shed (please see the blog post from January for varieties).

Free Plot Markers
Is you plot clearly marked?  If not, we have plenty of wooden plot markers to give away.
Just come down to the Trading Shed any weekend between 11.00 – 12.00 to pick one up.
All you have to do is write your plot number on it with permanent marker.