Wednesday 29 June 2011

Blackcurrant Cordial Recipe

Blackcurrant Cordial:
This recipe makes about 1ltr, but if you have less or more Blackberries its easy to adjust.
1.25kg Blackcurrants
Granulated Sugar (approx 600g)
1tsp Citric Acid.

Put the Blackberries into a large pan with 400ml of water over a low heat and gently cook for about 10 mins, squash the fruit with a potato masher to release the juice.

Pour the liquid into a Jelly Bag, or muslin lined sieve, set over a bowl and press to release the juices.

Measure how much juice you get and allow 300g of Sugar per 500ml of juice. Put the juice & sugar into a large pan and dissolve over low heat, do not allow the juice to boil. Remove at once and stir in 1 teaspoon of Citric acid.

When cooled a little, decant
into sterilised cordial bottles with swing stoppers.

These 500ml recycled glass bottles are available from Lakeland at £3.99 each, but being reusable represent good value.

The Citric acid is to make the Cordial keep longer, up to a year, if you don't have any don't worry your Cordial will keep for a few weeks
in the fridge anyway, if it lasts that long!

I found you only need about an half an inch depth of cordial in a half pint glass, before adding water, but you will know your own strength by trial and error. It's a perfect summer drink diluted with sparkling spring water too. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 26 June 2011

Heatwave weekend

Been a very warm, no hot, Sunday but we braved the heat and did some more planting.
More Lettuce, Dwarf French Beans & Beetroot.

But just look at our Courgettes:
Here you can see a Round one. We have grown these for some years now and make a nice change from the usual long ones.

For the first time we are trying a Yellow variety, 'Jemmer F1' here you can see just one of the many that are forming.

It will be interesting to see if they taste different, every year we say why do we grow so many Courgettes, so this year true to form we grow 3 types.

Still have to grow the old favorite standard long green Courgettes.
We will have to get the 'What are we going to do with all these Courgettes' book out again, but definitely not trying the Courgette Chocolate Cake recipe, tried it but didn't go down well with the family, but you can try it if you want.

So as I said a heatwave weekend, well actually it was today, Sunday, temps went up to about 24 degrees C (approx 75 degrees F) despite these high temps I managed to do some weeding too, there is still a lot to do to be ready for the open day next Sunday, but it will be done.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 19 June 2011

Super Sunny Sunday

This weekend we did so much harvesting it's hard to know where to start.

Yesterday we went to the Allotment in the afternoon and dug up some Potatoes:

Here you can see what was achieved from just 2 plants from each variety of 1st early Rocket & 2nd early Charlotte.

The fruit cage is still producing pounds of fruit, here you can see Raspberries (1lb 15oz) so to date we have harvested:
12lb 14oz (5.8kg) of Strawberries

7lb 8oz (3.4kg) of Raspberries
5lb (2.3kg) of Blackcurrants too.
All now made into delicious Jam.

Other things harvested today: Lettuce, cut & come again Salad Leaves, Radish, Spring Onions & Broad Beans.
We planted quite a lot too, more Sweetcorn, Runner Beans, Squashes and also sowed more, Spring Onions & Rocket. Sorry no pics, camera battery failed.

In 2 weeks our Allotment site is having an 'open day' so been doing a lot of weeding too, have to make our plot look nice for the visitors. Thinking of taking our Chickens down too, they will love scratching about, but we will keep them con
fined to the fruit cage, most of the fruit will have finished by then, other fruit can be netted. Looking forward to it already.

Chicken News:
Today is the 3 mon
th anniversary of us adopting our 4 'girls' they have settled in really well and are now almost fully feathered. For the last 2 weeks their egg production has lessened, we were getting 1 egg a day from each, but lately one seems to have given up as we were only getting 2 or 3 a day, but have been told this is normal for ex-battery hens, so not worried, as long as they are healthy and happy that's what matters. In fact Friday & Saturday we did get 4 eggs again, but today only 3.

I just had to show you this photo, the 'Girls' have taken over this Blue planter as their personal dust bath which is a daily routine.

I call it 'Chicken in a Pot'

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Best time of the year, Harvest Time

Absolutely the best time of the year, when most crops are ready to harvest.

Here you can see the Blackcurrants which are almost ready we have Redcurrants too although not red yet but will be soon.

Our other berries are coming along fine too, the Blackberry, Tayberry & Loganberry have fruit almost ready to pick.

Everything in the Green House is doing well too.
Here you can see the Cucumber, we also have a Mini Cucumber plant which we have been harvesting from as you pick them at only 3" long. The Tomatoes & Peppers are also doing well but no fruit yet.
We give all these a daily water with Comfrey tea mixed in as a booster feed.

A typical days Harvest:
Anya new Potatoes

So as you can see everything is growing fast now, The Mange Tout in foreground are half way up the netting, all the salad crops and Onions, Garlic, Asparagus, Broad Beans, Peas etc are getting bigger every day. Rain & plenty of Sun certainly help.
Even the Chickens are benefiting as we collect a bag full of weeds for them too.

But today we had our biggest daily harvest of Strawberries, mostly 'Alice' variety, today we collected 1lb 14oz.

So just in one week we picked:
6lb 2oz Strawberries
3lb 13oz Raspberries

So we plan to make lots of Jam & Wine this year.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 5 June 2011

A week of planting & harvesting

First the harvesting: Today as the flowers on the Rocket Potatoes had died away it was time to dig them up.
Planted almost exactly 2 months ago on the 6th of April, even I'm surprised they are ready so soon. But as you can see from the photo they look really good and will be part of tonight's dinner. Other crops harvested this week: Lettuce, Radish, Spring Onions, Mini Cucumbers, Strawberries & Raspberries.

This week we have planted lots of crops: Courgettes, Squashes, Peppers, Aubergines & Pumpkins.

Here you can see one of the Courgettes.

Tip of the week: Using 2ltr soft drink bottles you can make a mini cloche from the bottom 2/3rds, then the top, with screw cap removed, can be used as a water reservoir for any thirsty plant.

Here you can see our Manure heap, but as we are not using it anymore, I have covered it in weed suppressing fabric and planted 2 Pumpkins directly through the fabric into the manure pile. These too have bottle top reservoirs so we can get water to where its needed, the roots.

So no space is wasted on our plot.

Even our cold frames get used when empty, so we fill old compost sacks with our own mix of compost & manure and put them into the cold frame then plant up with Round Courgettes & Butter Nut Squashes, bottle top reservoirs are used here too as they can dry out quickly.

Chicken News:
Our 4 'ladies' Hetty, Betty, Peggy & Maud are as cheeky as usual, here you can see them queuing up at the patio door for their daily treat of Super Mixed Corn from the Small Holder range of feeds.

They are still laying an egg each a day and so tasty they are too.