« Why Does My Friend Oppose My Faith? | Main | The Topic For Today »

In Good Company: Strolling Round The Allotment

...I admire his broad beans as he explains to me while he has given them a change of scenery this year. I gaze dutifully into what looks like an elongated polythene play-pen for rows of bamboo canes...

Enid Blackburn lends support to her husband's horticultural efforts.

When the weather is fit and I have no pressing bowling engagements, or if it is too early for television, I like to take a stroll around my husband’s allotment. I know this will never replace wielding a hoe for him, but he likes me to smile approvingly at his potato shoots occasionally or sympathise with him over that patch full of stones, which he has frayed the edge of his spade on night after night.

I admire his broad beans as he explains to me while he has given them a change of scenery this year. I gaze dutifully into what looks like an elongated polythene play-pen for rows of bamboo canes – which he explains is his chrysanth nursery: a cosy wind-screened haven where hopefully his cherished debutantes will burst forth in obedient profusion later on in their coming-out season.

Then I stare knowingly at his brasica and nod understandingly over his spring onion in the salad section. I kneel painfully on a gritty path and watch him lovingly and with special tenderness separate his baby seedlings and tuck them comfortably into a cold frame, giving them a long cool drink before he shuts them up for the night.

Good gracious is that the time already? Coronation Street must be almost over, and we still haven’t wandered through our greenhouse. When entering this esoteric area of his kingdom, the plants look so privileged and snooty I always feel as if I ought to be wearing a hat.

Here we have box after box of delicate greens all snuggled in moist black earth, neatly rolled bundles of string, a tickling stick for his tomato plants, bottles of root tonic and fertiliser. It makes me feel such a heel for all the times we sit down and enjoy all the produce he trails home without so much as a thought for all the hard work and tender care that all gardeners everywhere put into their vegetable growing.

One chap we knew used to save all the liquid left after cooking veg and carry it to his garden, faithfully feeding it back to his growing plants.

Perhaps we can show our gratitude by doing full justice to their produce in our cooking.

If you want a tasty recipe, quiz any of the old gardeners and you’d be surprised how much they know about cooking. I was boasting about the size of my husband’s leeks at a bowling match recently – I tend to salve my con-science this way when I have just undergone a serious bout of non-gardening. Apparently (it was pointed out to me) some of us cut off too much of the dark green tip. We had a fine leek harvest last year and although I tarted them up with cheese when I was in the mood, before the end of the season we were all a shade leek-bound.

Well, it seems there are several ways to cook them. My new friend told me he liked leek fritters, and there was nothing tastier in his canny old opinion than leek pudding.

For the fritters, simply slice into one-inch rings, dip in batter and deep fry.

This is the pudding recipe as related to me: ‘I cuts a bit of toppin of me leeks, then I roll ‘em up in suet paste, wraps the lot in a large white handkech’, fasten each end wi’ a safety pin.’ ‘What no seasoning?’ I felt bound to ask. ‘No you gets enough flavour from the ham.’ ‘Ham?’

‘Meanwhile I have a shank simmering in some lentil broth an’ I drops the puddin’ in this for half hour or so.’

It sounds finger-lickin’ good and I only wish I could remember the old chaps’ name to thank him.

When our leeks mature enough I certainly intend to try it.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.