Jasbir, Sinfin Moor Allotments
My late husband Nirmal and I had always kept ourselves busy. We came to Derby in 1966 from rural Punjab in India. He worked as an engineer at the same time as studying, and he was a Councillor- later becoming Derby’s very first Asian Mayor. I worked as a seamstress, looked after our four children, our home and garden, and I accompanied Nirmal to various public events.
Nirmal had wanted an allotment for a long time. When the offer of a plot at Sinfin Moor Allotments came, he was determined to fit it into our busy lives and we worked as a team.
Sometimes he would go alone very early in the mornings or late evenings but mostly we went together. He would do all the digging, clearing and building whilst I planted, watered, harvested and pruned. At the same time we’d chat about what other plot-holders had done on their plots and decide our plot’s layout and planting. We soon got our plot sorted.
Six years after we had the plot Nirmal passed away, and I’ve kept our plot going for over 20 years. I do all the digging and clearing myself, and at the age of 79 years I was thrilled to get an award for best kept plot on my site. I love being outside in the fresh air and I want to keep as active as possible whilst my good health allows.
Everything grows really well on my plot and people often ask me what I do but I don’t do anything apart from use a tiller and a manure mulch. I grow what I use in cooking which includes ingredients for curries: onion, garlic, chillies, and herbs such as coriander and fenugreek, and a wide range of vegetables and fruit. I donate a lot of my vegetables to the communal kitchen at my Sikh temple which serves free meals all day to all visitors.
I usually grow my own seeds. I leave some plants to go to seed then I collect the seeds and store them to sow the following spring. One day I was cutting peppers for a salad and I thought - I grow all of these salad items except for peppers. It was a shop-bought red pepper and instead of throwing the seeds away I planted them in pots. I was so pleased when they grew into healthy plants with green peppers.
I have made good friends at my allotment and I’ve learnt a lot from them. I asked one friend to show me how to make jams and cordials. My grandchildren think my blackcurrant cordial is tastier than a leading brand- and it’s healthier for them too because I put in less sugar.
Jasbir’s favourite plot to plate: Spinach curry served with freshly made chapatti, radish, red onion & tomato salad, and plain yogurt with grated cucumber & coriander.