Caught by the River

Allotment Watch: June

Nina Walsh | 22nd June 2011

by Nina Walsh

While the stealthy yet persistent machine that is Codex Alimentarius continues to criminalize many health promoting herbal preparations and remove them from our shelves, I have been busy planting my own medicinal herb and flower garden in order to prepare my own tinctures and tonics later in the season. Included in my selection are Arnica, Echinacea, Feverfew and Chamomile. As yet I believe this is still allowed so long as we don’t go pushing them onto the sick and vulnerable, God forbid! I’m not so sure that a bed of flowers is exactly what some members of the allotment committee really want to see. However, I have managed to pass the annual allotment inspection with all rods intact. The rules are ¾ of your allotted rods must be cultivated otherwise you have to hand some of it over to the five year long waiting list. Seems fair enough. As this year has been so incredibly dry many of the plots are looking a tad on the dishevelled side so I am assuming that the committee were exceptionally forgiving and laid back with the eviction orders which is how I managed to get it through unnoticed. Let’s see what they have to say in a month or so when the entire bed turns bright pink and yellow without a vegetable in sight.

The latest little critter to appear on the plot is a relative newcomer to the UK, the rosemary beetle or Chrysolina americana.

Despite it’s name it actually originates from Southern Europe and hangs out mainly on Rosemary and Lavender plants. It has now become established in London and the Home Counties and will happily devour an entire plant over the course of a summer. Apparently the best way to deal with these little blighters is to flick them off and squash them. However, I am going to try treating the grubs, who actually do the damage, with a blast of colloidal silver which is fatal to primitive lifeforms yet completely non toxic to us so called evolved sorts.

Elderflower Cordial

It’s that time of year. The unmistakable aroma of the Elderflower is a sure sign that summer is upon us. It grows in abundance in the UK yet still remains one of the most expensive cordials to buy in the shops so I highly recommend you get out there and bottle up as much as you can store. It is a wonderfully refreshing summer drink and even more wonderful when combined with a large glass of chilled Prosecco! Elderflower cordial also has some versatile culinary uses too. Apparently if you massage the cordial into chicken (no, not a live chicken – thank you Little Barrie!) it makes a deliciously sweet glaze.


35 to 50 sweet smelling elderflower heads
2 oranges
1 lemon
1 lime
2 oz citric acid (you can find this in a chemist or in the Indian spice section at a supermarket)
3 pints of boiling water
3lbs raw cane sugar


In a large pot, boil the water and dissolve the sugar. Allow it to cool.
Zest the lime, slice all the fruit and add with the lime zest to the cooled sugar water.
Stir in the citric acid. This will preserve the cordial and will allow you to store it for up to 6 months.
Add the elderflower heads.
Cover with a lid and leave for 48 hours.
Once brewed you will need to filter it through a jelly bag, a clean stocking or a piece of unbleached muslin into another pot or jug.
Sterilise your bottles and decant.

Mrs Bun x