‘F’ is for French Bean

french bean creature

Not only do they taste great, French Beans also make a brilliant fruit & veg ‘creature’ for the local village show! They were one of the first things we grew on our allotment and remain one of our superstar favourites – there really was no competition when it came to choosing ‘F’ for our ‘Allotment A-Z’. We love French Beans!

There are loads of fabulous ways to use these beans in your kitchen –  delicious raw in a salad or dipped in houmous, lightly steamed on the side, baked in a slow-cooked stew or juiced for breakfast, the versatile french bean is also a doddle to grow. We’ve grown green ones, yellow ones, mottled ones and a gorgeous purple one that looks amazing, tastes great and stores well. Can’t ask for more than that!

‘F’ is for the fantastically flavoursome French Bean…

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‘E’ is for Elder


Creative Commons Photo Credit: Jean Mottershead

I hope you don’t think I’m cheating by including something in our ‘Allotment A-Z’ that doesn’t actually grow on our allotment, although it does grow just beside our allotment fence! I thought about ‘eggplant’ (aubergine here in the UK) and endive, but I honestly find our elder tree more useful than both those crops, so here we are…

The elder tree or shrub is one of my absolute foraging favourites and can be found growing pretty much anywhere in the UK. It has distinctive frothy ‘sprays’ of creamy-white flowerheads in spring and bunches of dark purple-black berries in autumn. Both the flowers and the berries are brilliantly useful in the kitchen.

‘E’ is most definitely for Elder…

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Pumpkins are such fun to grow. Every year we plant different varieties for size, taste and colour. This year we inter-planted the pumpkins with our sweetcorn, which looked lovely. The tall fluffy fronds of the sweetcorn and the low-growing sprawling mass of the pumpkins appealed to my ‘good-use-of-space’ aspirations! The idea came from the Native American Indians, who went one step further by letting beans climb up the stems of the sweetcorn – maybe we’ll try that next year! It’s called the ‘3 sisters’ and is a classic example of companion planting – the climbing beans use the corn stalks for support, the low-growing pumpkins and squash smother the weeds and the beans provide nitrogen to keep the soil in tip top condition. Perfect!


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