11. MARCH

We have had some more rain so any more work on the soil is out of the question. Instead of that I was busy finishing jobs that were left, parts of my land were even neglected. One of these was a raspberry patch. It is away from my other plots, it is on a plot I was used to work on, I just have this raspberry area, a plum tree and a line of rhubarb. The neglect must have suited it, because just after clearing the weeds I discovered some super rhubarb, ready for picking and the five lines of raspberries. They were carefully planted in double rows, separated by little paths that were covered by a membrane (strips of unwanted pond liner).

It didn’t take very long and I had the plants trimmed, the dead wood cut out, paths cleared and some horse muck and contents of my composter bins spread all round the raspberry plants.

As I was working I had a very nice surprise – he/she must have been feeling quite cosy but then I came….

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I’m sure he’ll find another place to live.

After finishing for today I did my usual rounds, checking the trees and bushes. One of the old black currant bushes needed to have the big buds removed and that was when I noticed something on the old apple tree nearby.

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In the past I have been trying to rub the mistletoe berries into the bark but no luck.

Thank you birds!

JELLY

What would have been a waste has been turned to something delicious, a savoury jelly.

It would have been a shame to waste the thinned-out apples, we have two kinds of yummy jelly. Perfect with cold meat or cheese….

THINNINGS

The June drop has been and gone and I have decided to thin out apples, not only on my trees but on my friend’s trees too.

They will boil down to a mush and then I will put them in a muslin bag and let it all drip during the night. It will make a very tasty jelly – perhaps with chilli or garlic or some herbs. Watch this space!

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…..

SPRING IS HERE…

…I hope. Today was a beautiful day and it would’ve been a pity to stay inside.

After lunch I made myself a flask of herbal tea and went down the allotment. I knew there wasn’t too much to do, just clearing the weeds from the raspberry patch. In the end it was quite easy – the rows are fairly well organised, paths between them are covered with strips of pond liner so the weeds at least don’t invade them. I was pleased that I managed to clear the whole patch.

The days must be getting longer – I finished around 4pm and it was still light – good enough to carry on working – but no energy left, alas.

Right next to the raspberry patch is my rhubarb – that was done a few days ago. It looks good and I can see new young shoots appearing.

I’ve got a few fruit trees there too – a plum, pear and an apple. The plum is quite young but doing very well indeed – we had 5 huge plums last year.

Here’s hoping for a big harvest this year.

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FROM THIS…..

….to a load of delicious chutney.

I found a great recipe last year – spicy squash and apple chutney – and because my squash harvest this year is exceptionally good, I decided to make some.

All it took was a trip to an old abandoned allotment site and pick some apples. I cannot imagine gardening there – the soil is quite poor, full of stones and the whole site is rather deserted. But the main thing is that the apple trees are doing well, despite being neglected, unpruned etc. They’re Bramley and that was perfect for my recipe.

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The preparation is quite fiddly but it is well worth it. Another good thing about squashes is that they keep well, the important thing is to cut the stalk as long as possible if you’re not going to use them soon – they keep better that way.