What to do with your 'Grown Your Own'

It's not all about cooking here. 

How about making artisan baskets from Kevin's willow. This example made a really good container for a school harvest festival gift.

Do let me know if you would like to share a particular interesting article or recipe on this page.

Best Regards

January & February : Playing with your food

Winter months are quieter for Grow-Your-Own but more about Make-Your-Own.  

Cooking is such a chore after Christmas & New Year festivities so how about a carrot recorder making project.  Don't have a carrot ? A parsnip will do. 

For the ambitious, get your friends together and make lots for your own orchestra . I really did not know a cabbage was so versatile 😲


Rhubarb is abundant from late March. A few of you are encouraging early crops by a technique called 'forcing' (covering the plant with a very large pot).  Easy to grow as it just sprouts up yearly without you doing anything special.

Lots to do with rhubarb but for those not keen on crumble nor pie, consider this easy-peasy lemon-squeezy healthy-ish Pink Lemonade recipe.
  1. Any amount of rhubarb sticks, chopped up into cubes if you can be bothered.
  2. Add a couple of optional apples (green is best but red will do if that is all you have).
  3. Place in a whole sliced lemon, including the peel for that extra zing! 
  4. Cover with hot water and stew until mushy.   
  5. Strain out the pink lemonade.
  6. Add sugar or agave syrup to suit taste.
  7. I like mine chilled with ginger and a generous swig of gin.

For a Rhubarb Smoothy, keep the fibre by omitting Step 5 and dilute the gluppy mixture with milk instead.  After Step 6, put in a blender and blitz your smoothie with some optional ice.


For Rhubarb Jelly, just add gelatin or agar to set.




The lack ofrain has resulted in sporadic growth for some.  With luck it is possible to enjoy a smaller but satisfying harvest of potatoes, beans and tomatoes.  For those who have invested in a packet of sweet peas, these are ready for cutting to a small aromatic display.

Summer Raspberries are coming to an end, so cut them back to make way for the Autumn Raspberries for Aug/Sept.

August : Allotment Mezze Receipes

Much vine pruning of late is leaving us with much new vine leaves going to waste.  Here are a couple of yummy Greek tasties adapted by Julie Winnard to try out.


1. Courgette & feta/ cheese parcels and variations (30-60 minutes)

There are a number of versions of these, the most common being spinach based (spinopitakia) but you can substitute any green veg that can be shredded of grated and cooks quickly.


Oil or butter or healthy oil spray

1 packet of filo pastry

Feta cubes

Pine nuts (lightly toasted first are best)

1 small courgette

1 egg (optional)

Salt and pepper

Dill or mint (dried or fresh)



  • Get filo out of fridge. Set oven to 180-200C (hot).
  • Grate at least half the courgette with a cheese grater into shortish pieces. Mix in a little seasoning and some toasted pine nuts..
  • Open the filo pastry and lay on a clean tea towel or kitchen towel on a board or plate, and cover with a slightly damp clean tea towel or kitchen paper to stop it cracking. If the pack is quite large and the sheets large you may be able to cut the sheets into two long strips and make triangles. If not, try making pancake roll oblongs.
  • If you have a lot of filo you may need the whole courgette. Allow 3x 1cm (roughly ½ inch) cubes of feta per pastry and stir into the grated veg. Whisk the egg and mix in also.
  • Take a smallish dessert spoon of the filling and place at the end of the filo pastry. If you have a long narrow piece you should be able to fold the end corner over with the filling to make a triangle, then fold the triangle over and over along the strip until all sides are sealed.
  • Set on a greased baking try -always with the last fold of pastry underneath if possible. For oblongs- fold the short side of the pastry over the filling then fold the long sides in to trap the filling. Now roll the pastry along the rest of the filo to make a sort of pancake roll shape.
  • Spray or lightly grease the pastries with oil or butter and bake hot for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack. Keep leftovers in the fridge for 1-2 days. Best eaten lukewarm as they cool if you can wait that long, but also good cold for picnics!


If you have leftover pastry, there are many veg and/or cheese fillings you can quickly assemble to use them up- shredded leek and cheddar, mushroom and spring onion (with stilton is v good), chopped cherry tomato and basil (optionally add mozzarella), shredded spinach or chard leaf* and goats cheese (or any cheese) with a little nutmeg.


Cheesy versions do not usually need egg whereas non-cheese ones may do, to bind the filling together a little.


If you want to add any meat, cook it first- minced lamb with cooked aubergine and tomato and a little Moroccan spice is good; or minced lamb garam masala and peas makes samosas, stir fry veg and shredded duck with soy sauce and garlic makes pancake rolls. Cooked chicken turkey or light game birds with onion and a little cinnamon and nutmeg, then dust the pastries with cinnamon and icing sugar before cooking makes fantastic Moroccan pastries called “bistilla”.


*chard may require a few minutes of wilting first in a pan



You can also make sweet dessert pastries in much the same way (without egg!)- just add a little sugar or honey to the chopped fruit. Unusual versions include apricots and a little basil, strawberries and rhubarb, pear or apple and blackberry, or even pears and a little chocolate!


2. Dolmades- rice stuffed vine leaves (60 minutes roughly)

This is the only recipe I’ve had which works well, and is best done with large but new (light green) leaves pruned from your vines. You can get vine leaves in brine in packs but I find they are rather salty and tough, and often fall to pieces. This version was designed to work with cabbage only but works well with the vine leaves. You can also vary the fillings similarly to the filo pastries, by changing the ingredients around. In the version below the egg is vital for holding the raw and cooked filling together!

12-16 fresh or frozen vine leaves (for 2-4 people)


50g uncooked DRY long grain or basmati rice

Small chopped onion or a couple of spring onions, chopped

Handful of pine nuts

Small handful of currants

Dried dill and mint (or fresh)

Salt and pepper

2 tins plum tomatoes and/or passata


Kettle full of just-boiled hot water

White or pale green cabbage or lots more vine leaves

Large saucepan with lid and a heatproof saucer which fits inside it



  • Wash and either blanch the vine leaves or freeze them at least overnight to soften them. If you are doing this with cabbage you will need to cut off and blanch some leaves at least hand sized (not the outermost leaves).
  • When about to cook: shred some of the tougher cabbage or vine leaves and pack into the bottom of the pan to cover it in a layer at least ½ inch thick. This is important as it stops the dolmades from burning. Open the tomatoes into a bowl, add a little seasoning and garlic, and put a thin layer on top of the cabbage in the pan bottom.
  • Assemble the dolmades/dolmasi parcels: lay the vine leaves flat in a stack. Mix the rice, salt pepper, a little dill and cinnamon, the pinenuts and currants and egg in a bowl or large mug. Place one or two teaspoons of the stuffing on a vine leaf. Fold up the stem side then the two sides to make a pocket, then roll up with the filling inside. Place in the pan with the last fold underneath. Fill the pan with a layer of these then add a little of the tomato mixture on top. Repeat until all the leaves are used or the pan is filled to within 2 inches (5cm) of the top edge. Do not pack the parcels too firmly as this will stop the cooking liquid from reaching the rice!
  • Pour the rest of the tomato mix over the parcels. Take freshly boiled water and pour into the pan until the parcels are submerged, then place the saucer upside down on top to hold the parcels under the liquid. Bring the pan to the boil, put the lid on and reduce to a gentle boil/simmer. They should take about 40-45 minutes to cook- check to make sure the pan is not boiling dry or the liquid getting low, as the rice relies on absorbing water from the tomatoes and extra water. Let cool slightly before serving.
  • The cabbage in the bottom tastes similar to vine leaves and can be served alongside the parcels in the sauce as another vegetable. If you used very tough viWne leaves or cabbage you may want to check if they are tender enough first though!




Some recipes mix a little cooked minced lamb into the rice instead (or you could add cooked crumbled spicy sausage crumbs) but I find this makes it a bit bulky- I use the currants and pine nuts instead of the meat normally. Also most recipes say to put a tablespoon of filling in each leaf but this is too much for English leaves I find- hence use a teaspoon to start with.

The vine leaves one works better earlier in the year but if you are still pruning new shoots off there may be enough healthy leaves to do this- it is easy, delicious and cheap! And you can freeze the leaves for a few months to use whenever you feel like it- I think mine were in the freezer for almost a year and still fine!


I've never successfully made them with cabbage but you may be able to :-)


Best regards





Claire collected some major silverware at the local Hutton Horticultural Society (HHS) show.  As a first timer this was a huge achievement.

The shows take place twice a year and a great place to enter your harvest to see how it matches against the local best as well as being a fun day out for the families as there are many categories for different ages.  


I love Christmas and during this quiet month on the allotment I take the opportunity to see what is around to make a Christmas Wreath. 

This 2.5ft monster of a wreath was constructed for my family 2017 holiday.  As a great supporter for re-use,  I plan to re-decorated the base for Easter with chocolate eggs.
Anyone interested in making a Christmas wreath please let me know as I will be happy to sort out a short 2 hr workshop on site to do so. The workshop will be suitable for both children and adults and you will take home your own wreaths.