As the Autumn is coming/ here, we have decided to reconfigure the pallet shed so that;
A) a family of mice or rats do not take up residence
B) we have a little dry dock for raining days
To winterise our pallet shed, I have removed the soft furnishings such as the futon, ( sadly, as Becky and I had many an afternoon snooze on that sofa during the spring and summer), and have replace it with two plastic chairs. Plastic chairs are obviously easier to keep clean when we are popping in here during the muddy winter, and harder to chew through and make a bed out of if you are a rodent. I have also raised the chuck box off of the floor, as we are more likely to be making cups of tea inside rather than on the pub bench outside.
The weather had been fab today, but it’s good to plan ahead in small holding.
Tonight we are in Suffolk enjoying a weekend away, and the sky has done this…
We have hot baked potatoes cooking in the oven and fresh ripe tomatoes to go with some beautiful cold cuts of gammon.
It must be autumn.
I have started thinking about my autumn projects, and crab apple jelly is top of my list. I have spotted a tree nearby with a huge burden of lovely red fruits. For those of your who don’t know how it is done, here is a brief recipe.
Crab Apple Jelly
A big bag of crab apples ( you measure the juice later on).
Jars and jam tops
Wash and crop your crab apples
Cover with water
Stew until they are pulpy
Put the pulp in a jelly bad or muslin
Leave over night to collect the juice
Measure the juice and feed the pulp to your chickens (prepared outside defra!).
For every 600ml, weigh out 450g granulated sugar.
Heat the juice in a large pan, and when it boils, add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves.
Then boil rapidly for about 8 minutes without stirring, until setting point is reached.
Check using the wrinkle method for a setting point.
Jar in hot jars and seal.
Eat with meat or cheese.
It’s very tasty. This year has been amazing for berries, we have been eating mountains of either strawberries, raspberries or blackberries every day since mid June. I have to admit to mostly eating them fresh rather than storing them for the winter though. Over the last few days I have gotten around to flash freezing some blackberries for use in yogurts, pies and smoothies over the winter.
The latest Blackberries from our cultivated plant are so sweet that you can eat them like grapes, the earlier ones were a bit sour, but by this point in the season they are so ripe, they can be eaten with out adornment.
In other news, we spent Sunday on the veg patch digging in a barrow load of manure that I had collected from my mums livery yard. Lots of muscle work, but hopefully we will reap the benefits next year. I have also taken to collecting sheep poo in a trug once a week to dig into the veg patch, it’s not very glamorous, but it will add the fertility of the soil and it makes the most of the mixed farm approach.
In the herb patch I have managed to get the following in this year:
Lemon Balm %
Curry Plant $
Chocolate Peppermint *
Lamb’s Mint *
Of these, the ones with a *, I shouldn’t need to worry about protecting over winter.
Ones with a $ I need to cut the dead stuff out of, not that there is likely to be much given that it’s a first year.
Ones with a & I need to wrap in fleece or bubble wrap.
Ones with a % need a mulch of some sort (straw etc) around the base area (they could all probably benefit from this though anyway)
Well that’s what I’ll try any way and I’ll see how it goes.
Since we’ve had the plot, the polytunnel has been extremely well used, particularly for leaf salad. We haven’t done much in the way of replenishing the soil though, just a bit of digging in compost here and there. The soil is all looking a bit too well used, so we’ve cleared it to give it a rest over winter and will dig some well rotted manure in so that it’s ready again for spring planting. Just a couple of lonely tomatoes left…
I’ve heard in lots of places that this year is a good apple year. These people are right.
The paths on the main veg beds have been weeded and re-wood chipped this weekend, as have the paths around the polytunnel and strawberry beds. A massive pile of chippings was created by the ash tree work, and this has done most of the paths. There are a couple still to do around the potatoes but the majority of it is covered. I’ve also spent the weekend starting to reclaim the permanent fruit beds around the polytunnel. The strawberries have gone bonkers and we seem to have various invasions of blackberry coming up all over the place, as well as alot of weeds, so it’s going to be a bit of a task. These beds have been a bit neglected this year as the poor weather last year meant that the raspberry canes didn’t really get pruned as they should have been, and the flower bulb beds I attempted aren’t really working very well either. So, of the 6 permanent beds there (not counting the raspberry patch), I’m going to deal with them all so that we have 3 strawberry beds, one bed for the relocating of the red currant and the gooseberry bush, which are currently being swallowed by the raspberries every year which makes it difficult to harvest things, one for blackcurrant bushes that my mum has kindly propagated for me and I’m not sure about the last one, possibly depends on what state it’s in when I get to it. Or I might move the rhubarb crowns as they are bit close to a neighbour who likes round-up for our liking.