At last the temperature is a bit easier to work on the allotment, however my activities are rather curtailed. I have great plans on the way there – I’ll do the weeding here, collect the cut branches there etc. It is the same every time I go there and it always finishes in the same way – only a fraction of jobs get done. Take today. I was hoping to get on with watering all the plants in the four greenhouses but when I got to the farm I noticed that the blackberries had turned black overnight. I wanted to make some jam so I decided to pick them first and then do the other jobs. This didn’t take too long and I had two full boxes quite quickly.
As I started watering the greenhouses I realised the tomatoes needed picking as well, even though I had a large bag of them a couple of days ago. Another little delay but well worth it, I could make more pasta sauce because I also picked a handful of sweet chillies in yet another greenhouse.
After that I finally got going with the watering and after that came a few more jobs – cutting off some of the tomato foliage and tying the plants to their sticks, weeding inside the greenhouses and here I thought – how come the weeds always grow so well, even if the plants I want growing are struggling. There must be some kind of logic here but I can’t see it.
I was slowly getting round to all the jobs I wanted to do, even managed to harvest some runner beans and other climbing beans. I wanted to make more pasta sauce, this time a mix of tomatoes, peppers and the beans. It all together made a huge potful and I have kept one portion for us for tomorrow’s lunch, the rest is already bottled in my Kilner jars. All will be very nice in the middle of the winter.
As the last thing in the evening I made the jam. I had more than enough so I got two Kilner jars of blackberries as well as all the jam. I’d better slow down a bit with the jam making, there isn’t much storage space left and I’m beginning to run out of empty jam jars.
There are very dark clouds overhead and I’m hoping we might get some rain at night. I think I will work in the back garden at home tomorrow, and I must catch up.
The weather was a bit different today, overcast and a bit cooler. But as the morning progressed it was back to hot and oppressive even though the sun didn’t come out. I decided yesterday that I would try and pick a lot of raspberries and harvest my red tomatoes. I’m pleased to say I managed to do both things.
This is my third batch of raspberry jam but the fruit is so good it would be a shame not to make it. This jam seems to be the most popular and it makes very good presents.
After lunch I put the tomatoes in my large roasting dish with a few cloves of garlic and a good glug of olive oil and after a while in the oven it was ready. It filled two Kilner jars and after sterilising 15 minutes in a water bath it was done. Starting my winter supply of chopped tomatoes, they are so much better than shop bought tins.
The weather forecasters have got it slightly wrong for our area, the map showed the belt of showers further up north. It started drizzling here after breakfast and continued till the early afternoon. Around three in the afternoon it stopped so I put on my waterproof jacket and went to the allotment. I didn’t want to do a lot, just to see how things were there and perhaps pick some raspberries and currants. I managed to do all that and got home dry. I wanted to try another recipe using fruit from my farm and thanks to my friend in Allotment Haven I have got just the thing. My blackcurrants aren’t ready as yet so I used red and white currants. The resulting cake smells delicious and looks great. Frank will be the judge of it tomorrow.
Yesterday was another busy day on the farm and in the end I was just too tired to write it all up. I did a lot of weeding in the orchard – again! and picked over two kilo of raspberries so of course I just had to make more jam. It would be a shame not to, this jam is so tasty. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are doing very well, I have removed the bottom leaves so there is a flow of air around them and they are in full sun.
Everything is growing well, the lettuce in one of the greenhouses is amazing, really big and very tasty.
I have used it to make a big green salad – I throw everything and anything in – chopped hard boiled eggs, Feta cheese, olives, capers and then just stir in my dressing made with olive oil, wholegrain mustard, balsamic vinegar and a little drizzle of honey.
When I went to the allotment last time I noticed that some raspberries were turning pink. I knew it would be just a few days before another harvest would begin. I was correct. I think I had the last of the strawberries, I had only a small box so when I finished I took the nets off, leaving the beds exposed for the birds to help themselves.
The loganberries are getting going as well but I’m not going to use them to make jam, we’ll eat them as I pick them. They are delicious, we have them on our porridge or even as a topping on a sponge tray bake.
Finally it was the raspberries’ turn.
The final result was two kilo of the delicious berries and by the evening I had another lot of jam ready.
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.
A few days ago I decided I would pick my strawberries every second or third day. Today was the third day so I took my empty boxes to the allotment with the view to pick some strawberries. Well, the boxes were filling up so fast I had to go and search in my shed for some more. I was lucky, found one with a lid, quite a good size as well. It felt I have been picking for ages. After that I just had enough strength to water my four greenhouses and the sweet potato plants, pick a few rhubarb sticks for the tasty crumble and then staggered home. I knew the harvest was good, the bags were heavy but I didn’t expect 7,6 kilo!
It was a very easy decision – more jam to make and tomorrow I will make a tray bake. It is a sponge base with strawberries evenly placed on tom. It is delicious and any fruit can be used, it was nice with pieces of rhubarb too.
Another 12 jars of lovely jam. From the farm into the jars in a few hours, not bad.
Today was my first jam making session this year. I know, it is only the middle of March but I had an idea and it worked out very well. Last year during one of our rare visits to Mike and Nicky in the Lakes I picked a huge box of plums. Mike’s tree was so fully laden that a large branch just snapped, the weight of the fruit brought it down. I couldn’t just leave the plums there, they were ready to be harvested anyway so I picked as many as I could. When I returned home I halved them and bottled them in Kilner jars, without any water or sugar. They kept their colour perfectly but I had just too many and on the other hand was running out of jam. After a little research I decided it was worth trying to make the jam using Certo, liquid pectin.
The beauty of making jam this way is that it doesn’t have to be boiled for a long time, in this case only ten minutes.
The colour of this jam is perfect, it made 12 jars. It should keep us going until the raspberries start and then the strawberries and…..
Here we go again – as soon as I started with the strawberry jam the raspberries began ripening. I am pleased to say that my jam is made as fast as can be done. I picked two kilo of raspberries partly yesterday and finished today and now the jam is ready.
Yesterday was the turn of the strawberries, just eight jars.
Today’s result is 13 jars, the colour is amazing and the taste couldn’t be better.
This is when the hard work starts paying off, it is great to see the result.
It is rather busy now, everything seems to be ready almost at the same time. I wasn’t sure how well will my tomatoes or courgettes would do but I didn’t have to worry. All is doing very well and I started making jams, chutneys, soups… you name it and I make it.
Not only courgettes but beetroot, tomatoes, potatoes and all the soft fruit – the allotment is giving and continues to give.