Grow, Cook, Eat

Coming up soon – the Grow, Cook, Eat event at West Dean on the 5th and 6th October. This is a new venture by West Dean and sort of replaces the Apple Affair they have run for years. It promises to be a great weekend so put it in your diaries now. The lovely Mary Berry will be there on the 5th and Brendan Lynch on the 6th. Plus lots of great local produce stands, music and above all a lovely atmosphere to welcome in the autumn.

and of course I will be there with my books so I hope to see you.

for more info go to, see their face book page ‘West Dean College and Gardens’  or follow them on twitter @westdeanejf


I’ve only been away for a few days and behind my back the plums are ripening with a vengeance. The tree is laden and the branches bending with the weight. I don’t know what variety they are but they are yellow, fat, juicy and sweet and I can’t stop eating them like sweets.

I’ve picked around 6lbs today but I know the ripening will accelerate over the next week or so. So what follows the eating straight from the tree glut? plum crumble of course, that’s a must have, plum chutney, with Delia’s spiced plum chutney recipe,  I’ve got a bottle of vodka left over from Christmas so plum vodka?

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Let me know if you have any good ideas.

National Allotment Week

There seems to be a week for everything and this week is National Allotment Week celebrating the Great British tradition that is the Allotment.

In 2013 they have decided to theme the week with a ‘fruity’ feel in celebration of the variety of sweet and succulent crops you can grow on a UK allotments. Too often allotments are thought of as places that only grow the humble potato or everyday carrot, but in truth they offer a cornucopia of delicious treats – from sumptuous strawberries, ravishing raspberries and glorious gooseberries through to beautiful blackberries, precious plums and appetising apples.

Allotments need protecting from development plans and budget cuts, so now is the time to act. If you think your site is under threat then there are several things you can do.

Interested in finding out more?

Summertime and the living is fruity

This is such a good summer for fruit, the berries are falling off the bushes, the plums are hanging off the branches and the apples are swelling. There are dishes that can only be eaten at certain times of the year, Christmas pudding, simnel cake and for me Summer Pudding. It can only be made from fruit straight of the bushes or if you haven’t a garden straight from the greengrocers. At this time of year I can’t get enough of it. Here is a recipe from Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking, but it is that kind of dish which can have many variations depending on the fruit you have at the time. Try any mix of raspberries, red/black currants, strawberries, gooseberries, blackberries, loganberries. I sometimes make little mini versions.

Summer Pudding

1lb/500g raspberries

1/4lb/125g red currants/black currants

about 1/4lb/125g sugar (to taste)

Thin sliced bread with the crust removed. (slightly dry so that it absorbes the juice)


Stew the fruit and sugar gently for around 2-3 minutes until the juice runs, taste and add more sugar if you prefer. Leave to cool. Line a deep dish (a pudding bowl or souffle dish) with the slices of bread. Make sure it is completely lined with no gaps. Fill with the fruit but keep a little of the juice. cover the top with a layer of bread.

Put a plate or saucer on the top then a weight. Leave overnight in the fridge or cool larder. Then when you are ready to serve, turn it over and pour over the remaining juice.

Serve with a good dollop of cream, cream fresh, yoghurt or ice cream.

enjoy – think about putting a fruit bush or two in the garden. Raspberries are so easy to grow.


Apples aren’t the only fruit


growing fruit in containers

I know it’s the wrong time of year to be focussing on fruit but we’ve just spent the day planting the Arundel Community Orchard and I feel the need to wax lyrical about growing your own fruit.

Anyone can do it and the taste of fresh fruit, juicy raspberries, freshly picked apples, sweet sweet strawberries and tart gooseberries is second to none. In the summer I’m lucky enough to be able to graze the garden for fruit as the season progresses from raspberries through to blackberries & apples.

Fruit is easier to grow than you might think and there are plenty of books around to help.From beginners through to extreme pruning.

I have just looked through the list of fruit growing books I have in stock from those from those for beginners to seasonned organic gardeners, from traditional garden practices to new ideas. From growing in containers and miniature fruit trees to orchards.

and although apples aren’t the only fruit they are a good place to start.