Sunday, 5 July 2020

Rhubarb wine making time

As its getting to the end of Rhubarb season, its time to make some wine. 
But first pick about 3lb of rhubarb (10-12 stalks) trim & wipe clean, then chop into 2" pieces and freeze for 2 days. 
You then put the frozen rhubarb pieces in a large bowl and cover with 3lb of sugar & leave over night. 
Next strain all the fruit & syrup through a jelly bag or muslin, make sure you wash off all the sugar from the remaining rhubarb, add a cup of black tea and make up to a gallon (8 pints). Put all the liquid into a clean demijohn add yeast, air-lock & leave for 1-3 weeks to ferment. 
When fermentation has finished, put 2 campden tablets in to make sure fermentation doesnt continue & transfer to another clean demijohn, to clear for a few weeks. 
When its clear carefully syphon into sterile bottles and seal, leave for 6 months, but must be drunk within 2 years. Enjoy.  
Today's harvest: Another 12lb of Stockbridge Arrow rhubarb! Wont make wine out of all it, maybe half, but there is crumble, cakes & ice-cream to make with it, will give some away to neighbors too.
And all this too, far too much to mention it all!
I love this time of year when we can harvest after all our hard work.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Harvest, Harvest, Harvest time.

Tuesday 23rd June: 
Smallish harvest, but more to come.
Wednesday 24th June: 
A bigger harvest of fruit & veg.
Monday 29th June: 
A very big harvest of fruit, veg & garlic too.
Tuesday 30th June: 
More fruit and beetroot & lettuce.

Most days we visit, we pick some strawberries, raspberries and loganberries, that turn into jam, or we have with our breakfast.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo

Monday, 22 June 2020

Another week isolating, harvesting & planting more!

First, I made a new number for our gate, just cut from plywood & soaked in dark oak fence/shed paint, in the hope it lasts a few years!
Strawberry & Sweet Pea harvest. 
We have had so many strawberries, we made Cordial and eaten plenty with ice cream etc.
Main crop Maris Piper potatoes, most are in flower and the rain & sun has helped to boost the growth after a very dry April/May. 
Cauliflowers are ready, a few have bolted but still OK for soup etc. 
The firmer ones will make a lovely cauliflower cheese dish.
No sooner do we pull out plants that are finished (cauliflowers in this case) we plant more out, that we had started in seed trays. 
The leek patch is looking good, the first lot I put in a few weeks ago have grown well & the ones put in most recently have taken too. Again the sun & rain has helped.
Another big harvest: 
Cauliflowers, 
Broad Beans, 
Peas, 
Chard, 
Raspberries, 
Strawberries, 
& Loganberries.
All the potatoes are looking good, most have flowers and the earlies have caught up, I think we will dig up some International Kidney very soon.

So another good week, inbetween the showers. 
We have been down most days or evenings, just to do weeding, picking & a little more planting.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Mid June & a change in the weather

Our first big harvest: 
Chard, 
Radish, 
Rocket, 
Lettuce,
Spinach, 
Rhubarb, 
Strawberries & a few Raspberries too.
More Peas put in, so squeezed in another wig-wam!

I also put in more Peas on a chicken wire frame.

So we now have 6 varieties growing, I think we must like peas!
I dug out our label making machine, so new smart labels are popping up all over our plot. It's a good way to re-use old plastic labels. I'm looking at a way to re-use wooden lolly sticks too.
We have been making the brassica tunnels bigger, by swapping wire for 20mm water tube hoops, we have replaced 5 up to now & just one more to do. 
Look our Charlotte potatoes are in flower, well 2 are so far, wont be long until we can dig some up. 

I love the thrill of digging up the 1st potatoes, to see how many we get from each plant.
Another good harvest, Chard & Strawberries again.
With all the rain the early potatoes are growing taller, so I earthed them up again, hopefully for the last time.
Well its been an interesting week, rain sun & windy too. At least the ground isn't so dry now. 
I planted out more leeks today, so check back to see how they get on. 
Check out my latest video below:

Allotment walkabout 2020

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Another very hot week to end May & 1st strawberry harvest

Did I say strawberry harvest, well yes the 1st of many. 

It's been so hot this week the fruits are ripening every day.
We had more peas ready to go in, so I put up a quick chicken wire support for them to grow up. 
Love the flag iris growing at the end of the pond. 

We spotted 11 Frogs today in and around the pond.
The other peas that were battered by the wind last weekend survived, despite the frame blowing down! 
So I reconstructed it and put extra supports in.
The apples are doing well despite the very dry times we have been having. 

Even our rain butts are empty, but we have a solution to our lack of water, see below. 
Gooseberries also looking good. 
They too are doing well without water. 
See next picture for a top tip. 
Top Tip: I found out that if you put rhubarb leaves under your goosberries its supposed to stop the sawfly rising up from the soil, where they are lying in wait. 
So everytime we harvest our rhubarb the leaves go under our bushes.
More strawberries, so Jo made a lovely victoria sponge cake filled with whipped cream & our strawberries. 
Lovely it was too. 
The brassica patch looking healthy, I had to make the net tunnel taller for the cauliflowers and the sprouts will be next for a taller tunnel.
Picked my 1st radish and had it with my pic-nic lunch, can't get fresher than that.
Rainbow chard looking good, Jo is looking at recipies so we can use it before it gets too tough, best to pick it young & tender.
Now that we are coming down in the evening to water, as its too hot during the day. 
I made little moats around the base of some of our plants, so the water doesnt run away on the dry sandy soil.
I did the same to the broad beans, so they get localised watering.
Because our site doesnt have mains water, we collect off our shed roof into 3 large rain butts, but now they are empty, this is how we are getting water to our plot, we have a small & a large Aquaroll totals 70 ltrs and we have been bringing this amount down twice a day recently!
Another task I have done to complete the pond area, is to put paving in front of the pond, this will stop the weeds taking over and gives us easy access to our other goosberry bushes at the end.
This picture was taken at 21:15 just before sunset, and after tonight watering & strawberry picking. 
We will return tomorrow with more water for our thirsty crops.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo 

Monday, 25 May 2020

May Bank Holiday and the days before

CD's make good bird scarers, Jo planted more Sunflowers and didnt want them eaten by pheasants etc. 
So far it's worked as each day we come down they havent been touched.
Jo also put crushed egg shells around each one to thwart the slugs & snails too. 
Leeks planted last year, were ready to dig up, so we could use the space for something else. 
Some were a bit small but they were still nice in leek & potato soup.

This patch at the lane end, hasn't been used for some time, I stored pallets, paving slabs & salvaged wood. Even had a few bonfires on here! 
But now all thats been moved to the new paved area at the front, I started digging it over to remove any weeds & roots, but luckily didnt find many. 
The strawberries in the fruit area are looking really healthy, some fruit is starting to turn colour so we hope in a few days to have the 1st harvest. In fact all our strawberries are in fruit, so it wont be long.
Trays full of leeks ready to go in, there are about 80 here. 
Check below to see where they went.
Tomatoes in the greenhouse, these are a strawberry tom type, we water daily & feed them too.
This is our herb & salad area, it is very popular with the bees as the chives are in flower and we have foxgloves too. 
The rhubarb in the background is the Victoria variety and this year its doing really well.
I love this patch, all in neat rows and most under netting, cabbages, brocolli (purple & green), cauliflowers and brussel sprouts, there are also a few rows of rainbow chard & some lettuce & radish too.
Back to the end patch I had dug over yesterday. 
I have now planted 76 leeks in 4 rows, I firmed the soil so I could make 4" deep holes with my dibber & placed a leek in each hole and watered well. They will be there for the best part of 6 months, plant on the longest day, harvest on the shortest they say (well almost in my case).  
This is where last years leeks were dug up from, Jo cleared the patch of weeds etc & planted 5 various Squashes! 
In this corner, by the other rhubarb bed and the compost bins, Jo planted dwarf beans, they dont need support canes, as they dont get very tall. 
The wigwam on the left is for Borlotti beans, sadly the 1st lot didnt make it after two nights of frost. We have more waiting to go in here.
So our plot is filling up, there is just one patch left, you can see on the right, more Leeks to put in and flowers too!

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo.