The weather was very kind to me today, you could be forgiven to think the spring is here. Yesterday was storm Eric, I had an enforced day in and did some housework, curtain washing etc so I was more than ready for some grubbing in the soil today.
My friend gave me a standard gooseberry, a red one but I wasn’t able to plant it till now – first the ground was frozen solid then it poured down.
I made up for lost time today though. Morning was planting time, the gooseberry is in the fruit cage and the afternoon session was dedicated to weeding the cage, the surround and clearing a neglected path right at the end of one plot, behind a net cage. As we are going to have the rest of our hedge cut next week we shall gain a lot of wood chip and I shall put it on that path. It had grass but it was also full of weeds like creeping buttercup so I have cleared it and will put the wood chip there. It’ll be so much easier.
It is the time of year again when I think where to put what type of fertiliser or compost. I decided to get some more mushroom compost from my favourite place – Livesey Brothers. It was an enjoyable visit; it is not too far, an easy drive and not only did I get 6 large sacks of mushroom compost but also some tasty mushroom. I can already taste the risotto I’ll make in the next few days…..
The compost is earmarked for the net cages where I will grow brassicas next year and also for my fruit cage, I shall fees all my soft fruit bushes – but not blueberries, that’s the wrong stuff for them.
It is harvest time!
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…..
…and I was pleased I had this lovely lot.
Got them home and in no time made a very tasty gooseberry and mint jelly. Goes a treat with cold meat, cheese or a quiche.
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.
There are four blackcurrant bushes in my fruitcage and because of that I have a decent harvest. The first year on the allotment none of my fruit bushes were covered and the result was that the birds had a wonderful feast and I couldn’t make any jam!
This is the result from the first picking, the next lot made some very tasty jelly. That’s much easier to make as I didn’t have to take the berries off the stalks etc – I simply boiled it all and just used the juice.
Every year I think how lucky I am having my fruit cage. The red currants are turning pink and that would’ve been a sure signal for the birds to come and feast!
I have two gooseberry bushes, red and green one. I also had fourberry bushes, they gave some fruit last year and even though they flowered well last week I discovered to my horror that they were smothered in some dreadfull black/grey fly infestation. Completely beyond saving and the rest of the soft fruit bushes in danger, so they had the chop!
Fortunately all the other bushes escaped. As I was checking I realised that the gooseberries were getting quite big. The best thing to do if you want some decent-sized fruit is to thin them. And of course the thinnings can be used.
This time I am not going to use them to make jam – somehow not many people eat jam these days; I know we use much less. So it’ll be savoury instead. I found a great recipe, it is Mint and gooseberry jelly and it goes very well with cold meat or cheese or with anything else that might take your fancy.
This way nothing is wasted, mint is looking very good now. One thing I’d like to add is that I don’t follow the recipe exactly – instead of letting it drip and just using the liquid, I mash the fruit and use it all because the skins are nice and soft after being boiled. It is a shame to waste the fruit.
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…