Monday, September 29, 2008


Harvest and booze

Forgot to mention that I did harvest some things over the weekend:
Lots of fresh herbs - chives, coriander (self seeded) and parsley
A few celery branches to give flavour to stews etc - still not big enough to really harvest the heads)
A few handfuls of yellow beans
some beetroot
the first red cabbage! A small one but there are quite a few so I can start now.
4 courgettes
and my two splendid pumpkins that have cured nicely in this week's sun.

Also (the booze part), I prepared the blackberry vodka: I strained it out, and crushed the berries to get out all the juices then added sugar syrup and a few spoonfuls of port to give it flavour. Now it will sit in the cupboard for a couple of weeks to mature. Needless to say I tasted it, it was sweet fruity and has quite a kick :-)

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All coming to an end

Yes summer is definitely over, the strawberries are giving their last fruit, the grass is turning yellow and most importantly the bloody bindweed is dying off!!!! SO soon be time to dig over the plot where it's empty, to get some manure on it, and get in some garlic for the autumn planting. I am quite tempted to put in some shallots too, (echalotes) as I know some folk do overwinter those.
And start looking at the seed catalogues! And make the inevitable dos and donts list for 2009.
For example:
sigh so many things to remember... perhaps 2009 will be the bumper harvest year?

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


Raspberry galore

The raspberries are in full swing. Curious, they are much later than last year. I already had two bags frozen, think there will be a chance to freeze some more before the end of the month, so autumn will be full of summer pudding, charlottes and rasperry and apple crumble.
Last night I brought home courgettes, and the only broccoli we will have! It was delicious but only enough for one meal, after planting about 10 broccoli plants :-( Must find a better variety for next year.
The garden is pretty much a disaster area but i will clean it up this weekend a bit, start to turn it all over for winter.
The pumpkins are almost all ready, the last beans are starting to fruit and the winter cabbages are having a growth spurt.
Pics soon! It's time to log what worked, what didn't and show the state of the place before winter comes.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Blackberry liqueur and grape jelly

Almost forgot- as I went blackberry picking during the holidays, I made the inevitable jam and also decided to trymaking blackberry liqueur.
I took a big empty passata jar and filled it two thirds with ripe blackberries. Then filled up the jar with supermarket brand vodka.
At the end of the month I will need to strain it and add half a cup of sugar syrup. Another month to mature and it should be good to drink :-D

While we blackberried, the kids made a good find - wild grapes. We pick our berries in a grape growing area and many grapevines run wild. They picked a dish full of wild grapes, too sour to eat raw but I heard from Bob Flowerdew thatgrapes make great jelly, so I cooked them up, strained the juice out, mashing the grapes with a saucer; there was about a pound of juice, put in a pound of sugar and boiled it up. It did indeed make terrific jelly, just one great big jar of it (I am running out of jam jars), so maybe next year I will get another chance at that one!

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Season nearly over...

I had a bit of a tidy up on Sunday, as the summer draws to a close. Overall it has been mediocre, too cool and humid to get any of the real summer crop flourishing. It's a year with 13 moon cycles, so I am told, and some people say bullshit but the old timers seem to believe that they are bad crop years (like 2007), and I am inclined to believe that.
Anyway I ripped up all of the tomato plants and stakes and the black plastic, the useless melon vines and the summer cabbages (digging only the cabbage leaves into the ground so as not to waste their nutrients). I covered that area and have decided it will make the onion and garlic patch for the new season. I guess roughly speaking, the rotation plan for 2009 will be:
State of play:
Sigh so what to do next year? I guess this year was a small improvement over last year, I got lots of fruit and a decent crop of alliums and potatoes. But I guess it is still not the bumper crop that I was expecting. Although I do know where I went wrong in most cases, so maybe I can make it better next year?
Good resolutions for 2009:
Well I am glad I got that off my chest...

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Back from hols

Phew that was quite a break from blogging! And from gardening!
The allotment is in a slightly disastrous state - all the tomatoes have rotted from blight, the sweetcorn had lived its last and the Coco de Paimpol beans had gone straight to their dried state (Although that was Ok, I harvested them and shelled them), the leeks got overwhelmed with weeds, as did most of the rest of it. The broccoli went straight into flower so still haven't managed to taste any home grown broccoli.
So I have done a bit of emergency gardening since then, dug up the maincrop spuds (good sized spuds, they were "Caesar" variety, I would grow those again, even though overall the yield was not terrific, about 10kgs of spuds to 25 plants...), weeded the leeks, hoed the rest of the things, managed to dig out the meagre crop of early carrots (one largish bunch, bit disappointing). Picked the first pumpkins! Their vines had died. There are 3 still growing.
Still, now I really need to give everything a good weeding, dig out the tomato vines, the melons that gave 2 tiny melons that are unusable and the summer cabbage and manure and cover that section ready for the onions.
The brassicas are doing very well, the Sprouts and Kale and PSB are now at least 40-50 cm tall and do not seem to be attacked by anything. The red cabbage are starting to get small, compact heads, so I am hoping to be able to preserve some of that before the winter. I am still harvesting beans, beetroot, swiss chard (red variety) and fruit. And yes yes I need to take some pics again.

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