Phipps Bridge Community Garden is one of Sustainable Merton’s flagship projects and an example of community gardening at its best. Through regular commitment, our volunteers have transformed this space into a social and productive food growing hub, and the garden now supplies an abundance of fresh, healthy, seasonal produce.
Eating local, seasonal food helps to reduce the energy needed to grow and transport the food we consume, supports local business, reconnects us with nature's cycles and, of course, means that our plates are filled with delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables!
What's on the menu this month?
Regular Phipps Bridge Community Garden volunteer Ruth tells us which fruits and vegetables are at their best and shares her tasty recipe for gooseberry fool...
In between trying to keep up with the fantastic weed growth, we’ve been busy harvesting kilos of broad beans, globe artichokes, gooseberries and lettuce at the Phipps Bridge Community Garden. Peas will soon be ready, and potatoes, carrots and beetroot are coming along too. These are all good things to buy now if you are trying to eat seasonally.
Gooseberries are at their best from late June to early August and if you can get your hands on some here’s a simple recipe for a classic gooseberry fool:
Chill a small can of evaporated milk in the freezer for half an hour or so.
Stew 500g of gooseberries (sweetened to taste) then sieve or puree and cool slightly.
Whip the evaporated milk till it’s thick and frothy (I recommend an electric whisk!)
For the custard - mix 200ml of milk with one rounded dessertspoon of custard powder and one dessertspoon of sugar.
Before it gets cool and develops a skin, stir the thick custard into the cooled gooseberry puree.
Fold in the whipped milk - It’s easiest to do this in three or four goes, rather than adding all the milk at once. If you’re careful you can do this in the serving bowl, otherwise pour the fully mixed gooseberry fool into a bowl, cover with a plate and chill in the fridge for several hours, or overnight.
While the hot weather lasts there are loads of salads you can make with beans, peas, and
potatoes. Lightly cook (boil or steam), add some fresh chopped herbs, oil and vinegar
dressing or mayonnaise and there you have it. If you add herbs and dressings while the
vegetables are hot the flavours mix better. These are salads you can eat warm or cold.
Grow your own
If you have a window box or small patch of ground now is a perfect time to sow herbs like corriander, dill, basil and marjoram from seed. Radishes and spring onions will be ready to
harvest very quickly too. Keep the seeds watered and they should germinate and be
ready to start picking in a few weeks.
Chives and parsley will take longer to get to a harvestable size, but you can also sow them now. Remember that chives will die down over winter, but sprout up again next year once you have a clump established. Lettuce prefers cooler weather, so it may be better to wait till after the current hot weather is over to sow that.
Community Gardening Champion
Feeling inspired to grow, eat and buy local, seasonal food?
Let us know if you try any of these recipes and what you're growing at home, on your allotment, or wherever else you've found a spot to flex those green fingers!