In Garden, sustainable living on July 19, 2012 at 6:41 pm
everything is looking lush and green and fresh …a definite benefit of all that rain. The fedge we planted back in April has really taken off. Actually all the trees and shrubs have put on lots of growth this year. The weather has’nt been too bad the last couple of days. Grey and overcast still but not so much rain.
The Mrs Perry apple tree planted almost 4 years ago has produced fruit for the first time. About 15 apples…looking forward to trying them. They are a dual purpose fruit.
At Mrs Perry’s feet Feverfew is in flower. A few leaves eaten every day is said to give relief from migrane. Thankfully I don’t get migranes… I do like it’s little daisy flowers though. It self seeds like mad. The purple leaved plant is Orach…a stray from the compost I think. It is edible and adds colour, if not much flavour, to salads.
By the garden gate Phygelius is in flower. One of my fave shrubs…commonly called Cape Fuschia…it is easily propogated by rooted suckers.
Here’s another one in the long border. There’s also a creamy coloured one which has just finished flowering. I shall be propogating more of these to spread around.
Fuschia is also in flower at the moment. I just love this little shrub which grows wild around here. It is another plant that is easy to propogate from cuttings.
In the hedgerows the Bramble is showing lots of flowers…a good Blackberry harvest looks likely. I just love Blackberries…combined with Granny Smith Apples to make the most delicious jam…lovely in tarts too. The joys of Autumn yet to come.
Don’t know what Freddie could smell as we came back from our walk. He stood like this for several minutes just sniffing the air…eyes closed. Cute!
In Cooking, Foraging., Gardening, sustainable living on September 15, 2011 at 10:53 am
Every year at this time we have a ritual of going to pick Black Plums at our former neighbour’s place. Don’t know the variety of these Plums but they are a cooking variety which the owners brought from their native Germany. In Germany they are known as a Plum for using in Plum Cake.
As yesterday was a nice dry day it was designated the Plum picking day. Other neighbours came along too so it evolved into a little social event. The recent wind had broken some branches which had to be cut out. As these were from the crown of the tree they were laden with lovely ripe fruit. It made the picking easier and quicker, not that we were in any rush!
This lovely big basket of Plums would grace any harvest celebration table. Some were to be used for a big Plum Crumble last night.
In less than an hour this box was full to the brim with Plums. I will destone them and freeze for use in jams, chutneys and crumbles later in the year when the days are shorter and more time is spent indoors. One kilo will be kept to make jam for immediate use. They are high in pectin, very similar to Damsons, so the jam sets easily. I will include the recipe I use for the jam.
Damson or Black Plum Jam.
1kg Damsons 1kg sugar three quarter pint of water
Method: Wash fruit, slit and remove stones. I like to have a kilo of fruit after removing stones so allow a few more grams to allow for weight of stones. Place them in a preserving pan with the water. Simmer until fruit is soft. Add sugar and slowly bring to the boil, boil until a set is reached. Stir frequently to avoid burning. The set will come fairly quickly as the fruits are high in pectin. Pour into heated sterilised jars and seal immediately.
As today is again dry I’m now off to pick Blackberries!
In Cooking, Foraging., sustainable living on August 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm
The Blackberries have started to swell in the hedgerows. Hopefully we will get some sunny days to help them along. The picking of Blackberries is one of my cherished childhood memories. My Mother would turn them into jam to keep us supplied through the Winter. Today it is a tradition I still follow. Foraging is second nature and something I get deep satisfaction from.
Blackberry and Apple jam is delicious and the apples provide the pectin the Blackberries lack. Mixed with Elderberry, another free fruit, they make a great chutney. Then of course there’s cordial, great for Winter colds or just as a nice drink, full of vitamin C.
The sloe is also filling out, this bitter fruit is the ancestor of all cultivated and wild plums. So bitter is it that one could possibly wonder what use it would have. It however, has several uses when ripe. Usually picked after first frosts, which softens the by then black skins, sloes make a lovely claret coloured jelly, a very fine wine and added with sugar to gin or vodka make a very nice liquer.
The Hogweed, alas, has no value to the forager, being inedible. It is however a useful plant for wildlife. The large heads are made up of hundreds of small flowers which attract Bees, Soldier Beetles and Hoverflies. Spiders spin their webs between the stems hoping to trap a Bluebottle or other insect to dine on.
The variety of wild grasses on the lane never ceases to amaze. They are at their best right now having reached their full height and developed seedheads.
This one lit up by the setting sun is gorgeous and to my eyes fit to grace any garden. I’m sure all these grasses have individual names but I don’t know them. I am happy, on my daily walks, to admire their variety and beauty.
In Animals, Cooking, Gardening, sustainable living on July 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm
The Blackcurrant harvest continues as more fruit ripens each day. Other years you could cut off branches and pick off the fruit as all would be ripe together. This year however the bushes have to be gone over daily to pick the newly ripened fruit.
As branches are eventually stripped of fruit the goats get a treat, competing with each other to get any remaining currants which they love. I’m sure a vitamin C boost won’t do them any harm!
I freeze the fruit in 1kg lots. This is then enough to make 7 or 8 pots of jam or a few bottles of cordial. Blackcurrants are of course full of health promoting antioxidants and Vitamin C. They are helpful for joint inflamations, eyestrain and urinary tract infections. Research in New Zealand has found a compound which may help some types of asthma.
As I pick the dogs keep me company. Lettie sits on the garden bench, a plank of wood on some concrete blocks, and enjoys the heat of the sun.
Freddie stays closer, dozing under the shade of a Blackcurrant bush. I’ts amazing to think this little guy has only been with us little over a week. He just fitted perfectly into the routine. He hangs out with the other dogs, does’nt run off and is very affectionate. Everyone who visits loves him.