FLOWERS ON THE ALLOTMENT

I don’t have the mason bees there this year, I have moved them to my back garden. But we have lots of bees there anyway; Mary, who lives at the back of the allotment, keeps bees. She has a number of bee hives and we had some honey from her last year. That is one of the reasons why I have some flowers on my plot.

The lupins are wonderful, all grown from seeds and the bees love them. The rose bush was free from a gardening magazine some years ago, it only cost the postage. Well worth it.

It is not only flowers that are in full bloom, loganberries and blackberries are doing well too. I’m hoping for a good harvest, we need some cheer!

MORE JAM

I have decided on a different strategy when it comes to jam making. The usual time was in the middle of summer when the weather is (hopefully) quite hot and it is all rather tiring. Not any more.

I always freeze the extra harvest of strawberries , raspberries and blackberries. The strawberries are crushed and weighed in 500g pots and frozen, the other berries are just frozen loose in bags.

Yesterday was a jam making day and it couldn’t be any easier. I selected 4 such packets, added the required amount of sugar, lemon juice and Certo and hey presto

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we have 12 more jars of strawberry jam.

I shall make some jam as I harvest the fruit but just enough to keep going and the rest of the fruit will be frozen, ready for future use.

BIT BY BIT

I think I could apply this motto not only to my activities on the farm but also to acquiring land.

When I first started all those years ago – can’t believe it is 9 years ! – I had half of one plot. I thought that would be quite enough. How wrong was I. The other half of the same plot was soon mine and very shortly I had all this land I have now. The secret is to do little and often – or in my case a lot and often!

Today was a case in point. Because it was raining during the night I didn’t want to do any digging. Instead I decided to sort out the original line of blackberries that is half way down my original plot. It was there already and I didn’t do it properly in the past.

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And it all looks much better. Tomorrow is another day and another bit of work will be done.

DIVIDING AND TRANSPLANTING

Some years ago I planted a small sage plant on the allotment – it was a rooted branch on my plant in the back garden. I think it liked it on the farm because when I dug it out it did exactly the same again but even more – I managed to split it into a number of smaller plants, all of them with a good root ball. They are now at the side of one of my net cages.

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It was still too wet for digging so the next job had to be moving one of my thornless blackberries and a loganberry to their new home.

ANOTHER BUILDING PROJECT

This is the perfect time for this kind of activity.

I have got a line of blackberry and loganberry in the middle of my original allotment – it divides it in two. The plants were quite small when first planted but now they’re quite vigorous and unmanageable. As I have a square of land with some fruit trees and bushes I thought a line of posts with supporting wires would be just right to finish this fruit set up.

Fortunately Simon was on the allotment and offered to help. I knew there were some metal posts in our lovely clean communal shed. We got them out but found that they were too long. Again Simon came to my rescue – managed to cut all three to the same size. All I had to do was to dig three deep holes and hammer the posts in. We even found a large reel of some plastic coated wire during the shed clear out so I could fix five lines of support.

All I have to do now is to prune the plants and dig the loganberry out and plant it in the new place. I’m sure it will grow better – it is in full sun and will have space to run.

BOTTLING

There is such a glut of fruit on the allotment that I had to think of other methods of preserving it.

I usually get a good idea when I’m digging and this time it was no exception.. I made a blackberry and apple crumble the previous day and was going to put it in the oven on my return home. As I thought of that, there was an Eureka moment – I shall prepare the mix, together with sugar, leave it to stand for a while, perhaps even overnight, fill some Kilner jars and bottle it, use a water bath for 20 minutes and I shall have it all ready for the winter.

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All I shall have to do then will be to make the crumble topping and pudding is done. The only problem now is to get some more Kilner jars and some more storage space…..

A DAY OF BAKING AND JAM MAKING

It was another dull, dreary January day, not suitable for doing anything outside. In that case, let’s stay in the kitchen and do something useful – like making more jam. Last year I made some jars of spiced blackberry and apple jam and it was so popular that it went so fast I couldn’t believe it.

I was sorting out the frozen fruit in one of my small freezers and found a bag of blackberries. It was obvious what to do – make more of than yummy jam.

That worked very well, so next on the list was some baking. I always make the sourdough loaf and that has to be started the night before. It is such a tasty loaf that the extra effort is well worth it. While that was going on I started the dough for my brioche.

Well, I call it brioche but in fact it is a traditional challah recipe (second one in this article). The overall result of my activities is very good. I don’t braid the dough but make two round loaves – just as good and easier to keep in the bread bin. Happiness is ……

HARVEST IN FULL SWING

Everything is calm now on the home front so it is back to the farm . I went there today with the plan that I’ll bring home some potatoes as the weather is nice and dry.

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The fuss certainly paid off  when planting them – sharp sand in the bottom of the little trench, some slug pellets and later during the growing season some potato fertiliser.

But not only did I bring home some tasty spuds, I got a box of raspberries, blackberries and tomatoes.

Last but not least – my fig tree in the back garden started giving me fantastic ripe figs. It has been producing loads for quite a number of years but I think this year will be the best.

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BLACKBERRY JAM

Last year I treated myself to a thornless blackberry, I didn’t fancy getting torn to shreds by the vicious thorns on the blackberries in the nearby fields.

It took and grew well – so well that one plant provided me today with 2 kilos of enormous berries, very sweet and juicy and not a scratch in site!

Decided to make some jam and again, thanks to Certo, it was all done and dusted within one hour. That included a mad dash to the supermarket because when I got everything ready I found that I’ve got no lemon juice! Ok, car out, a short drive, bought most of their stock of lemon juice and back home. Even my cup of tea was still perfectly drinkable.

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