Friday 19 June 2009

Definitely a good strawberry crop

The strawberries are ripening as well. Looks like a good crop is on the way.

Growing in the greenhouse

The greenhouse was definitely a wise investment. Everything is growing well (except my acorns but more about them on another day). Plenty of seedlings have been grown and planted out but remaining in the greenhouse are the following:

And plenty other plants.

How to make elderflower champagne

I filmed this last weekend - our elderflower champagne making session. We now have 45 bottles brewing.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Making elderflower champagne

I have blogged before about how to make elderflower champagne so I won't repeat myself ( Over the weekend I made another 23 bottles (about 16 litres) and a further similar quantity should be bottled up tonight by David.

Elderflower in the North East is much later than in London. I found it hard over the weekend to find enough elderflower in blossom in Gateshead. Down in London, where I am at the moment, the elderflower is no more or less gone.

Wild duck and roasted fennel

When we took over the allotment 2 years ago, one of the first things we grew was fennel. Nothing reaally came of it and the bed itself was later used as the location for a temporary manure heap. This may or may not have had any effect - but we found the fennel growing through the manure. So we let it continue growing through the manure was removed. We now have a rather attractive crop of fennel and we picked the first one on Sunday.
This was roasted to have with one of the wild ducks that have been sitting in the freezer since the autumn. The herbs it was cooked with were all home grown. So this was a mainly foraged wild or home grown meal. The trick now is to have the whole meal produced from our own sources.
Always remember to keep the carcass of poultry for stock. If you don't use the carcass straightaway, put it in the freezer until you can use it.
And another tip, we put the fennel leaves into a bag in the freezer along with carrot tops, potato feelings etc. We'll just continue adding to the bag til it is full and then boil it all to make vegetable stock. Then it goes into the compost bin!

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Rhubarb and ginger jam

Rhubarb and ginger jam is always a favourite and easy to make. We made 10 jars on Sunday, having picked all the remaining rhubarb (other than new shoots) on the allotment.

The following makes 10 jars:
1.5kg rhubarb, chopped
400g peeled fresh ginger roots, grated
1.5kg sugar
juice and zest of 6 lemons
400 ml water
Put all the contents other than the sugar into a jam pan. Apply heat. Stir regularly and allow the contents to become a pulp. This takes about an hour. Keep simmering and add the sugar. Stir regularly and boil it til setting point is reach. Then add to clean, warmed jars.

Bed 4 update

Bed 4 is now in use, or at least partly so. One of our main plans for this year was to bring this bed into use and in January I covered about half of it with a 30cm layer of manure. My thinking was that this would smother the weeds and grass there and kill them off. This has largely been successful. The drawback is that we didn't have enough to cover the whole of the bed. Nevertheless, we have started digging in the manure and two crops have been planted - sweet corn and celeriac, both grown from seeds in the greenhouse. The rest of the bed will be used for autumn and winter crops.

The photo above was taken in May when we first started digging over the bed. The bit behind David is the section where we did not put any manure, hence all the weeds. You can just see next to the wheelbarrow part of the area that was smothered in manure.

Potato bags updated

The potato bags we set up a couple of months ago are working well. The photo above was taken towards the end of May when David was finally filling up the bags. The potato plants have put on a burst since then. Funny to think that last year our potatoes were a complete failure. Having planted them on what is now part of bed 2, some must have survived as we now appear to have potatoes growing there.

Don't throw away your thinnings!

The beetroot seeds I plants a couple of months ago are doing well so recently I thinned out the seedings. Don't throw away the seedlings that have been gently extracted from teh ground! The leaves are great in salads (I have seen Sainsburys include them in their bags of overprices salad leaves.)

We boiled the roots though what we hoped to gain from doing this is not clear! I had in mind something that could be used as part of a meal. That wasn't so successful.

Likewise, the parsnips also needed thinning. We used the whole of the thinnings to make a parsnip and potato soup. Moderately successful but nothing to shout about.