Caught by the River

Allotment Watch: July

Nina Walsh | 26th July 2011

by Nina Walsh.

July has most definitely been a month of fruit. With a constant supply of fresh raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants my freezer drawers are filled to the brim and the jam making and liqueur bottling frolics have commenced! The more exotic and heavenly scented lilies have now replaced the tulip seed pods as they mulch into the soil in the garden bower and the jumbo garlics planted in the autumn, split perfectly into individual cloves thanks to the winter frosts, have now been harvested making way for a newly seeded bed of fennel. What joy!

There are, of course, the more arduous tasks to deal with and what with the great English summer downpours, hoeing is big business at this time of year as the weeds run rampant. The up side to this is that it means less watering. Every cloud and that….
Grass is best kept down before it begins to seed all over the place and the bind weed police should be called in to disperse the tireless crowds of strangulating tendrils! Not particularly attractive chores but rather fortunately I managed to source myself a dilapidated bench from a skip recently which I have nailed back together so that after a hard days work clearing, seeding and harvesting I can sit back, spark up a woodbine and literally revel in the fruits of my labour.

The slug munching army have arrived!

Not quite big enough for slugs just yet and still with tails attached my little tadpoles have blossomed into wonderful little froglets. Froglets are carnivorous and with the pond now attracting plenty of water bugs hopefully it will provide the fodder to fatten them up enough to patrol the plot in weeks to come.

Strawberry and Lemon Balm Mousse

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is unstoppable. A member of the mint family and just as badly behaved, you start with a small patch and then it shoots up on the plot just where you least expect it. I am constantly trying to find new ways of using the herb from infusing it in a slow cooker with coconut oil to use as lip balm as it has fantastic antiviral properties and will prevent cold sores, to drying it for a mildly sedating tea. For this recipe I have prepared it as a cordial in much the same way as the elderflower cordial but without the orange (see last months blog). If you don’t have time for this then replacing the cordial with a good slug of Amaretto makes for an equally scrummy and slightly more grown up pud!


225ml double or whipping cream
500g strawberries
115g caster sugar
55ml lemon balm cordial or Amaretto


Lightly whip the cream and pop it in the fridge to keep chilled. Be careful not to over whip it as it will take form as it is refrigerated.
Hull and half the strawberries.
In a pan, over a low heat toss the strawberries with the sugar until it dissolves and the fruit becomes slightly soft.
Remove from the heat then stir in the lemon balm cordial or Amaretto.
Let the fruit cool to room temperature then blend for just a few seconds in an electric blender.
Now fold in the whipped cream reserving a few tablespoons of the fruit to pour over the top.
Serve in a glass (a white wine glass is always a nice choice but as I drink red wine all my glasses are huge!), pour over the remaining fruit and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Mrs Bun x

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