It is all go on the allotment. This year the raspberries are amazing, I manage to pick a large box every other day. Not sure what I did but whatever it was it worked.
The same goes for the red and white currants, beautiful. Here I know the reason, I did pamper all the fruit bushes in the fruit cage.
I also had my first harvest of courgettes and french beans. Both are great, it is amazing how different the taste is when the fruit and vegetables are freshly picked.
But the biggest surprise are the aubergines. I always thought that they would be difficult to grow – not so. I had one plant last year and it produced some tasty fruit. This year I’m amazed how many I have. It seems that every seed I put in the soil germinated, I have aubergines in the greenhouse in the back garden and in both greenhouses.
This is the biggest one so far. I have found a few good recipes and am looking forward to using them.
Not bad for one aubergine. I’ll have to decide which recipe to use….
The last path to be filled with wood chip is ready, the edges are built with planks of wood from a dismantled fencing panel so today I could concentrate on the fruit cage. I’ve had this cage now for a good number of years and it needed sorting out. Some of the blackcurrant bushes were getting too old, they had to go. Blueberries are a super food, I like them and we put them on our porridge every morning so I bought a few new bushes. Early and late varieties and planted them in the cage. I already had some of them there. Now I have two standard red gooseberries, a redcurrant, two white currants and a jostaberry. That is only a cutting, I haven’t had any fruit from it so I live in hope.
I’m always amazed how well the weeds grow – even though I thought I managed to pull them all out, they came back. I cleared them again. That done, I wanted to put pieces of wood all along the bottom. The netting is buried in the soil and pinned down but this is for extra security, in case some little bird or a mouse should find a gap to get in.
Spring is here, I just hope my Asian pear tree isn’t bursting into flower too soon – we might get some late frosts.
Each time I go down to the allotment, or the farm as I call it, I spend quite a bit of time harvesting. It was the strawberries to start with, then the raspberries and now redcurrants. And in between I picked the first greenhouse cucumber.
I have made loads of jam – strawberry, raspberry and mixed jam with the two fruits. Today was the turn of redcurrant jam, and the result is great. I’m happy with that and the amount I picked yesterday was just a fraction of what is there! I think the rest will have to be frozen.
There will be more cucumbers, one of the water melons is there, only as big as a gooseberry – it has got to start somewhere!
My Grandma was, and still is, my inspiration in the realm of cooking and preserving.
She was the old school – no fridge in her days, it was a walk-in larder with a stone floor, no freezer either so any preserving for later was done by bottling. I’m tot quite sure if she ever used the salting method but I’ll have a look at it anyway.
Granddad had a plot of land where he grew a huge variety of fruit and Grandma bottled it and made jams. I think they would both be pleased how I try to follow in their footsteps.
It is rather easy – all you need is some Kilner jars, a large pan to use as a water bath and fruit of course.
One idea for the use of all these was – summer pudding. Not sure if it is still being made but it is rather yummy.
I can see having summer pudding at Christmas – what a lovely idea.
As it is so hot these days I started going to the allotment quite early in the morning. The plan is that I will either water the most needy plants with the hose or, on alternate days, feed the ‘special cases’ either with the seaweed extract, comfrey tea or the liquid from my wormery.
It was the turn of the comfrey tea. My, does it stink!! And the smell seems to linger close to the ground, so when I was bending down, I got a good whiff of it. Never mind, the squashes love it!
I managed to pick another large box of strawberries, pulled out a lovely bunch of carrots and a few nice beetroot.
yesterday was a day to thin out the gooseberries…..
As I was picking the gooseberry I also noticed that the currants are almost ready. That’s the beauty of having the fruit bushes in the net cage – I can take my time picking them, not like in the past where it was a competition between me and the birds. Guess who lost??
Another benefit of net cages is the ease of growing brassicas. It was the same story in the past – try to stop the birds nibbling the leaves of the young plants so there was hardly anything left. I thought they wouldn’t like kohl rabi. I was wrong. So now the kohl rabi grows in the net cage and nothing gets at it and I can enjoy the fruits of my labour.
Of course, I had to pick the fruit first. Thanks to my fruit cage the birds don’t get a chance to steal my currants or gooseberries. The redcurrants are really plentiful this year – it must be something to do with all the horse manure that I put round them last autumn.
The raspberries are not covered but somehow the birds leave them alone – perhaps they don’t see the fruit so well, as it is hidden amongst the leaves.
Anyway, I had enough of the redcurrants to make some jam, did that the other day, but the highlight of today was making jelly. I boiled the fruit, stalks and all, last night, let it drip overnight and just measured it and added the suger today and finished it. When I was boiling the fruit I added a bunch of mint to it as the jelly is meant to be served with cheese or cold meat.
While all this was going on I had one bowl with my sourdough bread rising – having started last night; I’ve got to plan making my bread as it takes some time but it is worth it!
The other bowl had the dough for a brioche (challah) – that is much quicker so in the end I had one loaf and two round loaves of brioche in the kitchen, right next to the jam and jelly.
It is all go now, despite the wet and rather cold weather – no flaming June here!
I keep thinking every year that it was well worth getting the fruit cage as the redcurrants are perfectly protected from the birds. Strangely enough, they don’t seem to bother with the raspberries – just as well, I couldn’t cover the raspberry patch, it is too big.
After the effort of picking the fruit and getting it ready, we have a lovely lot of raspberry and redcurrant jam.
I always wanted to have a house with a walk-in larder or a pantry, I don’t have either and I can see the reason in having one of these. I’m running out of space to store my produce.
This is the result of my efforts from last night and today – bottled red and white currants, raspberries and strawberry and raspberry jam. I’m sure my Grandma would be very happy with my efforts, she always bottled and preserved everything Grandad grew on his plot. I’m sure I’ve inherited their genes!
In the winter we can all have a taste of summer on our plate!
The strawberry harvest was 26 kg up to and including yesterday. The first 3 beds are almost empty, I shall take the nets off to give the birds a bit of treat but I have one more bed close to the shed and that one is just starting to produce fruit.
I went away for a few days to the Lakes – last friday to be precise. My friend has kindly offered to water the polytunnel on the allotment – nothing else is really vulnerable, everything is in the open and can look after itself.
Had a great time there, did some gardening – different kind, flowers this time. I do have flowers in my back garden but this was more organised, herbaceous borders etc. Fortunately the weather was kind and I got a lot done.
Came home on Tuesday 30th June soon after 1pm and after a short rest went to the allotment.
Amazing amount of fruit – 3 kg of strawberries, a full box of raspberries, red currants and white currants.
I also picked a big bunch of very fragrant sweet peas. They are great this year after I planted them inside my fruit cage, the birds can’t peck them and the stems are nice and straight.
I was very surprised to see some flowers on my strawberries. I had other plans when I got to my allotment but changed them and made some anti thieving bird preventions! I hope this will work, otherwise it’ll be back to draping some netting over them.
I also had a look in the fruit cage and again was very pleased that I have it – the red currants are starting to flower and you can see some tiny fruit on one of the gooseberry. Blueberries and fourberries are just a bit slow but they’re getting there too.
The first year I did exactly what the leaflet suggested and took the top net off, in case of a heavy snow fall. That winter we didn’t have ANY snow! The job of putting the top net back on wasn’t nice at all. I decided last November that I’ll leave it on and just watch the weather in case of some freak snow deluge. Again nothing! And then some people say we don’t experience climate change. Hmm…