At plot 73 with… Nadia

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For August, we have been chatting to Nadia Mackenzie who is at plot 73 at the Priory allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

About 2 years.

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

Watering madly and weeding. Picking soft fruit for jam, runner beans and spuds. Propping up tomatoes planted too densely.

What crop has done well this year?

Blackberries so far!

What are you planning to grow next season?

Haven’t planned yet but love beetroot – make chutneys.

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

Plan to do jams and lots of chutneys again, preserved figs, pureed fruits to freeze.

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

Photography and cooking.

At plot 15 with … Paul Edelin

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For July, we have been chatting to Paul Edelin who is at plot 15 at the Palewell Park allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

We’ve had our plot at Palewell Park since 1984.

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

In July we have been planting leeks and broccoli, picking soft fruit including loganberries, tayberries and also sweet peas, french beans, hunter beans, beetroot, aubergines and courgettes. We’ve also been digging a few potatoes, watering everything as far as possible, feeding tomatoes and extricating bindweed along with other weeds.

What crop has done well this year?

Our squash (Crown Prince) and blackberries (Fantasia) appear promising.

What are you planning to grow next season?

More vegetables and soft fruits.

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

Plain cooked beetroot and also courgette cake.

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

Doing never ending odd jobs – house and garden maintenance!

Turkey Pen Take Down Party

On Sunday 28th July we came together at the Hertford Road allotment site to dismantle a disused turkey pen. It was a great community event with over a dozen of us lending a hand to clear the site so it can be used for events in the future.

 

First the main pen was dismantled and where possible materials were reused around the site by plot holders.

It took a couple of hours of clearing the main pen and disused materials behind the turkey pen.

 

It was then time for some delicious cake, kindly baked by Halina – coconut and cherry or plum sponge plus tea. There was even enough to take a slice home!

And the finished result, what a transformation!

The next job will be to level out the area and then it’s over to you, what would you like to see the space used for? Covered seating area? Polytunnel? Let us know!

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.