Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

JAs are delicious roasted, and as soup.

Jerusalem Artichokes are related to sunflowers so will grow tall and eventually have small yellow flowers.  The sprouts are brittle so take care not to break the growing tip when planting them. Its best to harvest them all in the autumn or over winter, and then replant each year – otherwise they get very congested. 


They are delicious roasted, and I like them as soup. Here is a simple recipe:

  • Peel the artichokes using a vegetable peeler or a teaspoon,  this is not absolutely necessary but makes a better coloured soup.
  • Fry gently with a couple of cloves of garlic in some oil or butter. Don’t let it burn. 
  • After a few minutes,  add enough water to cover and cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes until the artichokes are soft. 
  • Add a handful of parsley and liquidise to a smooth texture. I usually add milk to this,  I’m going to try oat milk next time.  

JAs contain inulin, a starch which encourages healthy gut bacteria but they can make you pretty windy, you have been warned!! 

From Rosie Hall

Corona Virus on Allotments

Advice from LAF and NAS

Here is some advice from Leeds Allotments Federation about coping with the corona virus emergency on your plots.

Follow Government Advice at all times, and remain at a distance of at least 2 metres from other allotment holders. Don’t gather in sheds. Use hand sanitiser or soap & water as you enter and leave site. (We can’t supply this at the moment due to the panic buying). Be mindful of other allotment holders who may need help if they can’t get to the site regularly. If you are displaying any of the symptoms associated with Coronavirus stay away from the site until you are clear & if you decide to self-isolate for 12 weeks let your committee know via email/text so they know you won’t be around for a while and won’t hassle you over your plot not being cultivated.

Please be respectful if people don’t want to engage in conversation and don’t go onto anyone else’s plot unless they invite you. This is a situation which is changing daily and we need to ensure our own and other people’s safety.

The National Allotment Society also has a page about Covid 19 Emergency Measures which has a list of important precautionary measures.


Keep well!

AGM 2019

– summary.

Our 2019 Annual General Meeting was held on 25 October at the Meanwood Institute.  For the official record, read the minutes.  Here is a summary.

Chair’s Report

The 2019 growing year brought us a cold, dry spring and wet summer, with an early appearance of potato blight in July. Some fruit crops were very good. Rats and squirrels were a big problem, and many corn crops were completely wiped out.

The Committee met five times this year.

Sue Stones has stepped down as Secretary. Big thanks to her for all her excellent work and creative input.

Our events this year included

  • The plant B&B was on 3rd June and was a great success, the quality of plants was again excellent.
  • Our autumn show on 8th September, judged by our own Gillian North.
  • A visit from Moorlands School on 25th September.
  • An apple juicing day on 28 September.
  • Several work parties:
    • Erection of our communal poly tunnel,
    • Bonfires,
    • Work on the coppice area.

Volunteers do a lot of important day by day work around the allotments: cutting grass, maintaining the hedges, looking after the composting toilet, letting out plots, collecting rents, maintaining our web site and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram presence.

Trustees’ Report

The Trustees do three plot inspections each year on about 1st of March, June and September, with three follow up inspections six weeks after. The committee meets each time to decide what to do about any problem plots.

There were 5 inspections between March and September, looking mainly at Health and Safety and Cultivation. There were 4 evictions. Several plots improved after warning letters.

Security: There were several break-ins, though the new fence and gate seem to help. It seems likely that leaving the code unscrambled is the cause of the break-ins, so it is important to remember to scramble the code.

Paths should be kept clear, and ideally at least 80cm wide to allow for safe passage of people, mowers and wheelbarrows.

Treasurer’s Report

Election of Officers and Committee

All officers and committee members stand down each year, but are eligible for re-election. Officers and Committee were elected for 2020 as follows:

PostNamePlot
ChairJoe Foster30 + 31B
SecretaryJayne Harnett15BL
TreasurerStephan Petzold26B + 26TR
Plot LettingRosie Hall12B + 23B
Ness Clarke20T
Mary Davies10BR
Glenn Drury6T
Tom & Trina Evans-Cheung20BL
Chris Foren26TL + 32BL
Giles Foster20T

Prize Giving

Best plots were judged by Brian Jenner of Hayley’s Field Allotments on 13 July. This year there were categories for full, half and quarter plots, as well as best newcomer.

Best Plot1st2nd3rd
Full PlotRos Dunlevey, plot 37Joe Foster, plot 30Peter Blakey, plot 13
Half PlotChris Thirkill, plot 14BMalcolm Slade, plot 8R
Quarter PlotJayne Harnett, plot 15BLJessica Johnson, plot 3BLBen&Sophia Hepworth, 38BL
NewcomerJessica Johnson, plot 3BL

Ros Dunlevey’s plot was best overall, so she holds the shield this year.

The Autumn Show, on 8 September was judged by Gillian North.

AwardName
Best in ShowRosie Hall (leeks)
Overall WinnerRosie Hall
Joe Maiden CupJenny Tennant-Jackson
NoviceJessica Johnson

AOB: Rachael Munro-Fawcett presented some of her recent photographs from Hollin Lane Allotments.

Apple Juicing 2019

was a huge success.

Our apple juicing day on Saturday 28/9/2019 was a huge success. There were barrowloads of fruit there at the beginning – so much that I thought we couldn’t possibly get through them all in one day. But then lots of people turned up and set to, and we finished early. We estimate that we made over 100 liters by the end of the day. Fantastic!

There are some photos on our Gallery page.

Arson 1995

– from the Yorkshire Evening Post

One of our communal huts was burnt down in 1995. Here is a report from the Yorkshire Evening Post of 6/9/1995. Since then we have greatly improved security on the site, but occasional problems still occur.

Potato Blight

Blight arrived in July this year. What to do when your potatoes have it.

Here are some tips about identifying blight and rescuing your potato crop once you have it.

Blight has appeared early this year because of the recent warm, humid weather. We don’t usually see blight on our potato plants in Leeds until August, but this year it has started in the last week of July on our site.

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower cordial made in June gives you the fragrance of summer all year round.

Our allotment site has lots of elder bushes growing around the edges which are covered with fragrant flower heads in June. There are lots of ways of using them, and elderflower cordial is our current favorite – the taste of summer all year round. We make a batch in June, and keep a few plastic bottles of it in the freezer. You can just dilute it with water for a refreshing drink, or use it more adventurously (elderflower sorbet?). My wife has used this cordial recipe for years, but now we can’t find the original on the internet any more. No matter, here is our version of it:

Pick the elderflowers on a dry morning, and try to use them within a few hours. Sniff them to find the best. Give each one a little shake to evict any insect visitors.

  • 25 elderflower heads
  • 1.5kg sugar
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • 50g citric acid (from Wilko’s for example)
  • 2 unwaxed lemons, finely sliced

Boil the sugar and water to make a syrup, stirring until it is all dissolved. Turn off the heat and stir in the citric acid, then leave it to cool. Put the flower heads in a container and pour the syrup over them and add the sliced lemons.

Cover it and leave it for two days, stirring occasionally. Then strain it through a jelly bag or muslin. You can squeeze the lemons to get a bit more zing if you like.

You can freeze it in clean plastic bottles, or use it fresh from the fridge for a few weeks.

Joe Foster

Kale Sprouts

Spring is the time for kale sprouts – the best part of the plant.

Through March and April, kale which has survived the winter starts to put out flowering shoots, a bit like sprouting broccoli. Kale sprouts are delicious – the best part of the plant. They are much better than the tough older leaves that are served in trendy cafes along with quinoa and chia as “superfoods”. 

I gather the sprouts when they are still growing fast, and tender enough to break off the stem easily. I wash them in a bit of fresh water, then drop them, still damp,  into a pan with a bit of olive oil. Kale tastes best to me if I start it on a fairly high heat, tossing them in the oil. After a minute or two I turn the heat down and add  just enough water to steam them without burning, but not so much that they become soggy. (Well, I do get this wrong sometimes, but then they are just ‘pan browned’ – definitely not ‘burned’.) When they are tender and they smell done serve them up.

Cook lots, or you will wish you had.

I cook broccoli the same way. Sometimes I add a clove of chopped garlic to the oil, especially with supermarket broccoli, which isn’t as tasty on its own.

Joe Foster