Caught by the River

Allotment Watch: August

Nina Walsh | 31st August 2011

by Nina Walsh

August always seems to be a month of continuous birthday celebrations, my own included and what better way to spend it than camping out at the plot with a few friends and a stack of freshly grown produce to chuck on the barbecue. I would like to say that I caught the sea bass and mackerel too but sadly that wasn’t the case and also highly unlikely as I have never caught a fish in my life!

Despite persistent downpours throughout the day, the Dunkirk spirit triumphed against the elements as the bell tent was erected and barbecue lit, a spicy aroma of rain drenched bay wafting from it’s coals.The skies soon cleared, apart from the odd light shower and the camp fire roared with approval as the spiritless sun disappeared behind the trees. A yellow tungsten glow from beyond the neighbouring golf course the only clue that we were just a few miles from the hectic city centre.

With wonderful live music provided by my good friends and fellow plot holders Armorel and John, collectively known as The Children and accompanied by my dear friend and music collaborator Anita on harmonium we had the perfect summer hoedown. Even the local foxes had a riot as they looted the bin bags and ran off with the scraps leaving a trail of paper plates and cups for us to clear up in the morning before Gordon the warden arrived to witness the carnage!

On the hard graft front I admit I have been a bit slack this month. I think it has to do with a combination of hot sunny days and the new bench. However, after recently reading, The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, I don’t feel too bad about it as apparently to just sit and love your vegetables is almost as productive as physically tending to them and I must say that I’m not so sure I would actually know what to do with any more courgettes, potatoes, beans or tomatoes anyway. Another interesting thing I read in the same mind boggling book was that by adding magnetic ferrite powder to your vegetable soil, the gravitational pull will encourage stronger root systems and grow plants twice the size. Definitely one I shall be trying next year (so long as it doesn’t interfere with the Orgone accumulator of course……and before you ask, it accumulates Orgone.) See: I especially like the bit about the carrot the size of a grown man’s thigh…

Occasionally when I’m working hard from my bench I get a rare glimpse of the Dulwich allotment panda. Fine wine in one paw and oat bran muffins in the other, the allotment panda tends to show herself when times are turbulent and bamboo growth is slow. Last time she came to distract me from my work on the plot (and some of life’s many woes!) was to educate me in the territorial nature of snails. Suggesting we should paint the snails, release them the opposite end of the site and see how long it takes for them to return. Not a bad suggestion (from a panda) and one that I shall endeavour to blog about should she return with paint. On this occasion, however, allotment panda made a brief appearance to warm her paws around the camp fire. She then casually snuck off and tried to steal my car.

Apple Jacks (Jack Daniels & Caramel Apple Rings)

These are an absolute winner to throw onto the barbecue at the end of a feast and require little preparation.
If the apples can be picked straight from the tree all the better!


Juice of one lemon
60g of butter
200g brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
A good slug of Jack Daniels
6 Tbsp heavy cream.


Core and slice the apples.
Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the slices and keep in an airtight container until ready to barbecue.
For the Bourbon Caramel Sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and Jack Daniels in a saucepan and boil for 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat, stir in the cream.
Brush a bit of the sauce over the apples in the last two minutes of grilling, and drizzle more over the apples just before serving.

Mrs Bun x

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