Daily Archives: 6 August 2012

National Allotments Week

National Allotments Week

Throughout my childhood, my Grandad kept an allotment. It was a pretty ramshackle affair with a patched up homemade ‘shed’ and a rickety path made out of bits of tile that Grandad procured on his travels.

He lived through two world wars and as a consequence was very much a make-do-and-mend sort of person.

Never was he mean with money, but he didn’t believe in waste, and recycled – in the old-fashioned sense of the word – or mended everything himself. He even glued together the little Fimo figures I made as a child, and proudly displayed them on the mantelpiece long after I had reached adulthood.

As a result, everything in his home, garden and allotment had a slightly eccentric feel. I remember sitting on the step to his shed watching him pull up weeds or ‘squit’ as his used to call them and chatting about my day at school. The allotment would never have won awards for beauty, or even reached the status of ‘shabby chic’, but the produce grown on there was delicious.

My favourite was his beetroot,
which he pickled in big re-used
glass jars and sliced with cheese
to make sandwiches, with his
gorgeous home-baked bread.

Enough of my nostalgia, this week is National Allotments Week, created to help celebrate and protect the allotment, not so that I can reminisce.

This is what the Allotment Society reveals about the event:

National Allotments Week exists to highlight how brilliant allotments are. They not only bring communities together, provide space for growing and fresh air for individuals and families alike, but they benefit wildlife and help to keep our cities breathing. Unfortunately allotments are under threat.

Each year the National Allotment Society supports hundreds of allotment holders who are fighting off proposals from landlords to dispose of their allotment land. Did you know that if all the allotments in the UK were added together, they would cover 58 Hyde Parks? Just imagine what would happen to our ecosystem if this land was lost to developers – billions of insects and animals would be wiped out, the risk of flooding in towns and cities would increase and air pollution would intensify – not to mention the detrimental impact it would have on people’s health and wellbeing.

So to celebrate this year’s National Allotments Week, we are asking everyone to make a fuss about allotments by either holding or attending a ‘Party on the Plot’ – because if we don’t shout about them, then who will.

See National Allotments Week website for more details.



Pickled BeetrootHere’s the Dairy Diary
recipe for Pickled Beetroot.

It tastes as good, or almost
as good, as my Grandad’s.


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Pickled Beetroot recipe

You either hate it or love it. But you have love the colour!

Pickled BeetrootMakes 1.25–1.5kg (2½–3lb)
Time 2 hours, plus infusion
13 calories per 25g (1oz)
0g fat
Suitable for vegetarians

Fresh, uncooked beetroot 1.25–1.5kg (2½–3lb)
Cinnamon 5cm (2in) piece
Mace 3 pieces
Whole allspice 1 tsp
Whole peppercorns Bristol Blend 1 tsp
Large dried chillies 3
Whole cloves 5
Caster sugar 2 tbsp
Distilled malt vinegar 5% acidity, 700ml (1¼ pints)

1 Wash beetroot well and cut off stalks to within 2.5cm (1in) of each beetroot. Place beetroot in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and cook gently for 1–1½ hours until cooked. Drain and leave to cool overnight.

2 Place all spices in a stainless steel or unchipped enamel pan, add sugar and 300ml (½ pint) vinegar and bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover and leave overnight.

3 Peel cooked beetroot and cut into slices 5mm (1⁄4in) thick. Loosely layer in clean jars. 4 Stir remaining vinegar into spiced vinegar, then pour into jars – including spices – making sure beetroot is well covered. Cover with lids and store in a cool, dry, airy place.

A Dairy Diary recipe

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