Even though the spring was nothing to write home about, the harvest was fine. The vegetables coped well with the cold spring and not a very great summer and the harvest was good, apart from the carrots. Germination was poor and I made sure the ground was stone free. I tried three times, in the end I got two rows of reasonable carrots. I don’t think I was alone with this problem, other allotment holders experienced the same. Never mind, there is always next year.
Soft fruit was great, apples also. The figs were rather disappointing, certainly the cold spring affected them. There are countless immature figs on all my trees but I don’t have a chance to harvest them now, even though it is still quite mild. The days are getting shorter and they need the light.
The latest harvest
They are some squashes, courgettes and apples – Egremont russets mainly, the other one is Elstar
on the farm and in the kitchen.
Even though the weather wasn’t at all nice – where has the summer gone??- I managed to get to the farm and do some work. The weeds are doing very well so that is an ongoing task. The courgettes started producing, so did the climbing beans, so I thought: we shall have our first concoction – my own recipe this time – just throw it all together, add some spices, perhaps coconut milk and see what comes out!
I’ve got a couple of apple trees there and both have given me lovely fruit in the past. I know about thinning the fruit on the branches and also about the June drop so I waited and yesterday picked all the little apples that fell off and at the same time thinned out the ones remaining. Managed to get quite a few.
Cut them up, boiled them and put in a muslin bag to drip overnight. One litre of liquid, just right to make some delicious herb jelly. I use a recipe from my favourite book by Linda Brown – The Preserving Book and just use different herbs. Works every time.
The result are four jars of delicious sage jelly, perfect to serve with cheese or cold meat….
Waste not want not!
I have got three apple trees on the allotment – Egremont russet, James Grieves and a Bramley. I was waiting for the ‘June drop’ and finally today did my rounds to check. All is well, the obvious casualties have dropped down but I was still left with quite a lot of bunches of apples. As I was thinning them I thought – they would make great jelly (or something like that). Saved them all and then found out that when I was thinning out the gooseberry bushes I just did one of them, left the other. Did that today and finished with a nice box full of goosegogs.
This time I had a recipe in mind but only for the ratio of sugar to the liquid. I can’t really call my creation a jelly – because it has got all the bits in!
First I cooked the little apples and pushed the resulting mush through a fine sieve and got 1,5 pint of thick liquid. Then the gooseberries were cooked in just enough water to cover them in the saucepan, with a bunch of sage – for a change!
Again, everything was mashed up, the bunch of sage taken out and to each pint of liquid a pound of sugar was added.
Back to boil, slowly first to dissolve the sugar and rapidly for about 15 minutes. In the meantime I chopped a big handful of sage leaves and added them to the mix, after the plate test showed thet we’ve reached a setting point. For that I kept a small plate in the fridge, put a small amount of the liquid on it and when it wrinkled when pushed with my finger I knew I was home and dry.
Bottled and another batch of tasty conserve is done.
My plan seems to work – I keep adding seedlings of cabbages, curly kale and kale Cavolo di Toscano to the latest net cage (close to the shed) and find that I still have some room.
There will be crop rotation between the cages, three will have brassicas in and the other two will have ‘other’ veg – the heritage peas, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and whatever else might need home.
The next to be planted were the dwarf French beans – these went in one of the raised beds. I purposefully didn’t fill the beds to the top and it is very handy because small plants are protected from the wind. I also covered the bed with an old net, not quite against pigeons or butterflies but to give it a ‘blanket’ against any frost we might still have during the nights.
It was a busy day on my farm today, the weather was just perfect. I had a look at my second early potatoes and they are all coming through so they had to be earthed – quite a slog, the sun was blazing down (not complaining!)
As I had a look at my lovely apple trees I noticed that some of the branches needed better support. The Egremont Russet is covered in blossom and it would be great shame if the branches couldn’t carry the weight of the fruit (I hope there will be plenty, it looks good). I made a couple of t shaped props and hammered them in the ground. The ties are old socks cut into strips, they’re nice and soft, also quite stretchy so it won’t damage the branches.