Sunday 26 August 2012

The last Sunday in August

So today I decided to lift the last of the summer Onions, Autumn Gold & Stuttgarter Stanfield.
I planted 54 of each back in March and with all the rain we have had lately it was time to get them in. Had to weed the patch first though!
 Here you can see the Autumn Gold cleaned up and drying, they do look fine. There are 42 from the 54 planted so not a bad crop. Sadly the Stuttgarter didn't do as well, only got 20 small ones, so wont be growing those again!
Harvested today:
Potatoes (Cara)
Courgettes (Round & Standard)
Runner Beans
Asparagus Peas
and still a few Raspberries.

But at least the sun shone for us today, the forecast for the following week is wet and windy. Sad as its the last week of the school summer holiday and tomorrow is a Bank Holiday too!

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Wet Sunday

Before I set off for the Allotment today I checked the online weather forecast, it said overcast but dry, rain tomorrow, so I set off and just as I reached the gate to my plot the heavens opened!

So I sheltered in the Greenhouse, where the Tomatoes are doing well, the Basil too. Perfect bed fellows Basil & Tomato, the scent when you enter the greenhouse is wonderful.
So it was one of the shortest visits in a long time, but I still managed to dig up some Cara Potatoes for dinner tonight and some Raspberries & Blueberries, to sprinkle over my breakfast Cornflakes in the morning.

This is the view from the Shed, I ended up sitting in it and having the pic-nic I had packed, in the hope I would have stayed for at least 3 hours, but the rain (you might not see it in the photo) got heavier, so I headed back home, no weeding for me today!
But guess what, soon after I arrived back at home and dried off, the rain stopped & the sun came out. Oh well there is next week for weeding.
Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 5 August 2012

Super Sunday

Today was certainly a super day, despite the forecast of overcast cloud it was sunny almost all day, just one short shower that's all.
But it didn't stop us from doing some important jobs, in the space where the Charlotte Potatoes were I have planted out 105 'Musselburgh Leeks', we started them of in seed trays & when about 2-3" tall, I made 2" deep holes with my home-made Broom Handle Dibber and dropped a Leek into each hole, then watered in well with Comfrey Tea water. 
Another job done today was to plant out more Cabbages 'Golden Acre' in the area the Spinach and Chard were growing, if you remember it had gone to seed so had to pull it all up, but not gone to waste, the Chickens enjoyed stripping all that, then the rest went into the Compost bin.
Talking of Chickens, here you can see Maude, the dominant one of our pair, having a fine time in the Fruit Cage, most of the fruit has been harvested now so they have all the cage to explore. Peggy our other Chicken came too, but was hard to track down as she likes scratching around under the fruit bushes.
Anyway, back to our jobs, in this raised bed we had Onions 'Fen Globe' growing, but I noticed some were looking a bit rotten at the base, from all the rain we have had no doubt, so decided to harvest them. All the ones you can see, once cleaned up were perfect, only a few were rotted and had to be composted. In their place we planted some Beetroot & Lettuces to over winter. No space is wasted on our Plot.
Harvests this week:
Asparagus Peas
And the last of the fruit:
Strawberries, Early Raspberries, Red & Blackcurrants.

So a lovely day was had, when we returned I continued with some Fruit Wine I have started, already I have made 2 batches of Rhubarb (12 bottles) but now I'm trying Rhubarb & Blackcurrant to see how that turns out. 
Its a simple recipe that can be adapted to most fruits:

Rhubarb Wine recipe:

No need to make the wine as soon as the Rhubarb has been harvested as it's better to freeze it first, as this helps the firm stalks to break down in the initial stages of the brewing. 
Simply wipe the stalks clean, cut into 1" (25mm) chunks and place in a freezer bag and freeze for at least a week.

The recipe

3lb of Rhubarb
3lb of Sugar
Wine Yeast
a cup of cold black Tea
& boiled, cooled Water.

Place the already prepared Rhubarb chunks in a large bowl & cover with the sugar, leave overnight or until all the sugar has dissolved.
Strain off the syrup and keep to one side. 

Cover the remaining Rhubarb with water to rinse off any remaining sugar, (might have to do it a few times to get all the juice & sugar) then add that (minus the Rhubarb chunks) to the syrup & a cup of cold black tea and then make the quantity up to 1 gallon with water (to fill a demijohn).

Filter/strain the whole mixture through a fine sieve or jelly bag to get a clearer wine, add the yeast a teaspoon full is adequate and transfer to a Demijohn fitted with an air-lock.

Leave to ferment, can take a week or up to 3 weeks. 
Using a hydrometer stop the fermentation when the reading is around 1.01, to stop fermentation add 2x Campden tablets.

Then leave to clear naturally, maybe 'rack' it twice leaving a few weeks between, then transfer to sterilized bottles. 
Be patient as this wine needs to rest for at least 3 months, but better after 6 months, wont keep indefinitely, must be drunk within 2 years!

You can add other fruit of a similar sugar content, I added Raspberries and it was very nice. Always keep the fruit and sugar quantities the same ie: 1.5lb Rhubarb + 1.5lb Raspberries to 3lb Sugar.

Good Luck with it.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian