20. JUNE

Today was going to be a harvesting day and I’m very pleased with the result. I have a little routine when I get to my allotment. First I open my four greenhouses to get some fresh air in, perhaps water the plants if it looks like a hot day ahead and then start the real tasks I had in mind. This was exactly what happened in the morning. As soon as the greenhouses were done I started harvesting the currants, red and white ones. Both bushes are in the fruit cage, safe from thieving birds so I don’t have to hurry picking the fruit. I picked two large boxes of the red currants and one of the white ones. I already had a big bowl of gooseberries at home, they were from yesterday. I always try to thin the fruit on the bushes so in the end I get some nice large gooseberries. This took most of the morning and I was quite glad to lock up and go home.

Picking the fruit was one task, the next one was removing the stalks and weighing it ready for jam  making. In the end I have a lovely lot of red currant and gooseberry jam, the white currants are so delicately flavoured I don’t make anything out of them just freeze them loose, put in a freezer bag to be enjoyed in the winter.

SOFT FRUIT

About two years after starting on the allotment I treated myself to a fruit cage. It wasn’t cheap but it is well worth every pound. I have rearranged the bushes there during late autumn and winter and it is much better now, enough space around each bush.

I have got a number of blueberries, gooseberries, black currant, and my favourite, red and white currants. Today I picked some of them, the white ones are delicious on our porridge in the morning.

GREENHOUSE

Today’s weather forecast wasn’t very good but I was hoping against hope that I might manage a spell on the allotment. I went there soon after 9am and did quite a bit of work in the fruit cage. Yesterday I went to a garden centre and used a couple of the vouchers that I won in the Johnson sunflower competition – bought a white currant. I have got one bush but the flavour is so great I always wanted another one. And it was in a sale, all the better.

As I planted it yesterday I realised I had to weed the whole area – amazing how well the weeds grow! That was the job for today.

I managed to clear more than a half of the cage and then rain stopped play. The advantage of having a greenhouse (or two…) on the plot is I can stay there and continue working in the dry. Just the right time to clear the greenhouses, pull out the plants and refresh the soil. I did all that, put in there one huge 50l sack of composted farmyard manure….

…..and all is ready for next year. Now I just need a nice sunny day to finish the fruit cage and clear out the second greenhouse and I’ll be happy.

HARVEST

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.

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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.

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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.

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This is the biggest one so far. I have found a few good recipes and am looking forward to using them.

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Not bad for one aubergine. I’ll have to decide which recipe to use….

CONTINUING

The weather is on my side, digging is almost done.

I managed to burn most of the cut down raspberries and any other bits and pieces so it was a clean up day today.

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Just about a third of this patch is left to dig and then all is done – that is until the weeds grow again. I have been working this piece of land for a good few years and the bindweed is holding on in there….

The next job was inside the fruit cage. Some of the currant bushes are getting past their best so I have decided to rejuvenate some. One each year will be just about right. I dug out one red currant and replaced it with a white currant. Managed to get it by chance in B&Q for £1 – I already have one and wanted to have another one for ages. Their flavour is lovely.

READY FOR THE WINTER

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.

BOTTLED SUMMER

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.

More strawberries, here we come!

You can’t have too much of a good thing.

SERIOUS HARVEST

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.

FRUIT

The soft fruit on the allotment is well organised and ready for the spring.

Raspberries have been planted on a separate plot, in double rows and the paths between the rows lined with a membrane to (try) to stop the weeds from invading. It has been great, I had hardly any weeds there! The canes are contained in the rows by some wire and that is holding them back, all this makes picking them much easier.

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Rhubarb crowns are resting , if next year’s harvest is as good as this one was I’ll be happy. There are three young fruit trees beside the rhubarb – a plum, a pear and a cooking apple. All had some fruit this year so I’m hoping for much more next year.

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A large part of one plot is taken by a fruit cage, this is a must on our site as we have a large number of pigeons and they would strip the fruit off before we know it is there. I found out the hard way during my first year there – I had a red currant bush in the middle of one plot, an obviously mature one and very soon I started noticing some currants, they were just turning pink. Next day – nothing! That drove me to getting the fruit cage and moving all fruit bushes there – red, white and black currants, gooseberries, fourberries and blueberries. It was worth the effort, the harvest was great this year. All the fruit is either frozen, eaten fresh or made into jams.

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Last but not least are the strawberries. It is quite amazing how much can be harvested from jus three beds. When I first started gardening on my plot I was given enough plants to make one bed – the original plants multiplied and this summer I had 30 kg of sweet juicy strawberries. Delicious!

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