Our favourite food writer, Rosemary Moon indulges us in her love of allotments and life on the ground at Tangmere Community Garden. As a lover of both cooking and gardening, Rosemary has also shared a delicious new recipe using seasonal allotment delicacies; raspberries and rhubarb. Read on for a guide to Rosemary’s Raspberry and Rhubarb Compote - the perfect treat this summer!
Freshness and flavour
I’ve gardened for almost as long as I have cooked and, whenever possible, I’ve grown vegetables. My first ‘allotment’ was a garden share and I remember huge success with purple sprouting broccoli, taking bags of it into the Test Kitchen where I worked on the development of Tricity and Moffat cookers.
When we moved to Tangmere almost 35 years ago I set about growing as much as I could in the back garden, with broad beans being a favourite crop. Then, just over 7 years ago, I suggested to the Parish Council that a community garden would be a good idea for the village. Around 30 people turned up to the initial meeting and we have maintained membership of between 20 and 30 ever since.
The community garden is on the old airfield with thin, poor, compacted soil. A couple of batches of pigs proved themselves to be excellent workers at removing brambles, roots as well, and putting some manure back into the ground. We dug, 7 years ago, but we wouldn’t now. Several of our members went on a course with Charles Dowding, champion of the no-dig method of veg gardening at West Dean, and now we are all convinced of the merits of this way of growing. Earth Cycle is just across the airfield from us and we are great consumers of their soil improvers. We now weed and then pile new compost onto the beds each year. Our paths are mulched with ground-up pepper plants from Tangmere Airfield Nurseries and there’s enormous satisfaction in having such excellent ‘local food’ for our Garden, helping us to produce great crops year after year.
The main project for the autumn and winter is to refresh our polytunnel. We need to have it recovered and we also need to clear out the beds and refresh them. One of the commonest reasons for increasing failure rates with veg gardening is the lack of soil maintenance and we certainly have no excuse not to be on top of this at Tangmere Community Garden.
However we are now planning a new adventure with a move to Orkney. The challenge of growing our own so far north and wondering how large a polytunnel to have is as exciting to me as any other part of the move planning process.
RASPBERRY & RHUBARB COMPOTE
300g raspberries, fresh or frozen
150g granulated sugar
1 large cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1 Prepare and trim the rhubarb, then cut it into 4cm lengths.
2 Heat all the ingredients together gently in a pan until the juices start to run from the raspberries. Stir, then cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so, until the rhubarb is tender.
3 Allow to cool slightly, then add any extra sugar necessary to sweeten. Cool completely, then remove the spices.
4 Serve as a topping for pavlova, in ice cream sundaes or trifles, with muesli or with porridge.