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.”

At plot… 2 with Sheena-J Clark

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For January, we have been chatting to Sheena Clark who has a plot 2 at the Pavilion allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

I have had an allotment since August 2016, we were originally on Triangle site which was a lovely little plot but moved at the beginning of Autumn to Pavilion to a bigger plot.

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

This month we have tidied up, raked up the leaves and kept the bird feeders topped up.

What crop has done well this year?

This year we had a great crop of tomatoes but they were very slow to ripen. Beetroot, raspberries and cucumbers also did really well. The flowers were good too especially the Dahlias.

What are you planning to grow next season?

We grow fruit, veg and flowers,  we don’t grow any fruit or veg that won’t be eaten, peppers, cucumbers. raspberries, rhubarb, beetroot, apples, pears, plums, potatoes, carrots just the usual really.

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

I make chutney’s, and jams with our harvest. standard recipes that my family have used for years.

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

I love my allotment, its our outside space as we live in a flat, I can quite often be found just sitting on the bench on a nice day, on the not so nice days I can be found in a different sort of tree as my other hobby is genealogy (family history) which I really enjoy.

At Plot… 62 with Paul Crompton

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For December, we have been chatting to Paul Crompton who is at plot 62 at the Priory allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

About 7 years.

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

This month planting onions, garlic, one or two new shrubs, cutting back big blackberry bush, facing cutting back lots of raspberry canes which did not produce fruit last 12 months because drought and unusual weather.

What crop has done well this year?

Blackberries did well but raspberries a big zero.

What are you planning to grow next season?

Just planning to improve growing conditions at present and not sure about 2019 except hoping for better weather.

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

I am a famous tai chi teacher – look me up on internet, author and translator in field of martial arts.  Currently teach half a dozen elderly groups around southwest London.

At Plot…30a with Dino & Sarah Franz

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 a shed and fence panels on offer on Freecycle and put those up.  As the beds were cleared one after the other , 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 over winter plants; planted out all of our over wintering 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 and to get 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).

At Plot…36 with Pam Islip

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For October, we have been chatting to Pam Islip who is at plot 36 at the Priory allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

For about 25 years.

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

Still harvesting tomatoes, weeding, watering, general tidying up, cutting the grass, shortly be sowing broad beans* (Aquadulce Claudia).

What crop has done well this year?

Tomatoes, courgettes, mixed lettuce, French beans (green, yellow and purple), aubergines.

What are you planning to grow next season?

Far too much but I’m very popular with my neighbours!

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

Griddled Courgette with Tzatziki

For the courgette

  • Slice courgette lengthways about ½cm
  • Rub olive oil onto both sides
  • Place onto hot griddle pan (makes nice brown stripes if you press it down occasionally) for about 4 mins
  • Turn and do the same for the other side

Meanwhile

For the tzatziki

  • Grate a small cucumber into a clean tea towel
  • Squeeze until lots of liquid removed
  • Place in a bowl and add 2 crushed garlic cloves, salt, lots of thinly sliced mint leaves and Greek yoghourt. Add it bit by bit until you get the consistency you want.

And given how many tomatoes I grew this year, I always serve with tomatoes.

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

Hiking, bird watching, opera, fungi, art exhibitions, British Museum/British Library/V&A exhibitions and anyone who knows me will tell you I’m always taking exotic adventure holidays as I love travelling.

*Here is my tip for growing broad beans

I don’t spray my crops as there’s really no need with careful management. When the black fly appear (as they most certainly will) there’s no need to pinch out the tops. Every couple of days (or every day if you can) use the hose and your finger tips to squish the black fly and wash them off. After a short time, they will fail to reappear and because you’ve been watering well, your beans will have benefitted and will grow high.

Our thanks to Pam for taking the time to answer our questions this month and provide a look into her allotment world.  If you’d like to be interviewed for next month’s newsletter, please contact us!

At Plot…51 with Ronnie Bendall

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For September, we have been chatting to Caroline (Ronnie) Bendall and is at plot 51 (also known as Area 51!) at the Hertford Avenue allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

I was first shown the plot, commonly known as Area 51, in January 2017.  I was immediately in love with the uniqueness of this space between the public path and Beverley Brook. As Susan showed me round she explained that it was a big plot that needed a lot of work.  Was I sure,  as some other smaller plots would be available shortly?  I was sure.  Having worked two previous allotments as I helper I was keen to have one of my own and this was really the one!

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

We have been on holiday for two weeks and I came back delighted that beans, cucumbers, raspberries, courgettes, beets, salads and potatoes are still in full production.  Now I am tidying up and making plans for autumn and next year. Meanwhile my husband Austin is busy making some more rustic seating from logs and discarded planks. This is part of the fun of an allotment and apart from the thrill of growing and harvesting ones own produce, the best part is getting to know the many friends who share a love of this special site.  Open Day and two get togethers are also on this month’s calendar for us.

What crop has done well this year?

In the spring we were happy to see the beautiful blossom on the large quince tree.  It is laden with fruit now and has me searching for recipes. My Japanese Wineberry has taken off and received many questions from passers by on the footpath.  So many crops seemed to love the hot summer we have had.

What are you planning to grow next season?

I am hoping to try out some more unusual veggies and maybe a kiwi fruit. I am making a decorative herb and flower bed and have to work on that as well as training two little apple trees I helped graft while I volunteered at Fulham Palace garden.

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

That is a hard one as I love cooking. I make an easy pesto with the strong rocket I grew from seeds brought back from our son’s garden in Slovenia. There are many versions of pesto but it is such an easy and delicious thing to have in the fridge.  Mine is made with: rocket,  parmesan,  pine nuts and garlic (also from the allotment).  Put all in a food processer with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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

I once had a catering business and enjoy cooking. After running my own specialist stationery and gift shop for many years I studied paper making at Morley College. I would like to try plant fibres from the plot to make some stationery.  I love taking photos,  fruit, flowers and veggies,  and sheds and benches, tend to feature quite a lot!

Our thanks to Ronnie for taking the time to answer our questions this month and provide a look into her allotment world.  If you’d like to be interviewed for next month’s newsletter, please contact us!

At Plot…41a with John Padgett

Each month we are going to be getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For August, we have been chatting to John Padgett, who currently volunteers as the BHAS Chairman, and is at plot 41a at the Hertford Avenue allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

I’ve had an allotment for 5 years now. I feel the growing of fruit and vegetables is one of the most primitive of human activities and it’s all too easy nowadays to bypass any connection with how our food is grown. In our busy, compressed lives, the allotment is a peaceful oasis.

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

Watering, picking raspberries, feeding my pumpkin and more watering!

What crop has done well this year?

My crop of Garlic (Sprint) did well this year. It must have enjoyed the relatively mild winter and wet spring. The raspberry canes (Joan J) have also done well and I collect about half a large punnet every other day at the moment.

What are you planning to grow next season?

In addition to the Asparagus, Raspberries and Dahlias which are perennials, I’ll be growing Purple Sprouting Brocolli, Salad leaves, Climbing French Beans and doing some experimenting with some unusual squashes

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

At the moment it’s got to be Fresh Raspberry Meringues. I buy the meringues for simplicity then just top with whipped cream and heaps of fresh raspberries – it’s the perfect way to finish a meal on these hot summer days.

Our thanks to John for taking the time to answer our questions this month and provide a look into his allotment world.  If you’d like to be interviewed for next month’s newsletter, please contact us!