Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Monday, August 27, 2007

Getting into a Jam?

Completely caught up with enthusiasm for all things home produced – despite my less-than-successful show entries – I decided to give JAM MAKING a go this weekend!

The plums on the little tree at home have been prolific, & although I’ve been eating quite a few each day for the last week or so, they are ripening far more quickly than I can eat them!

This photo of the plums gives me an excuse to show off my new polo shirt that Shelley & Paul put in my ‘goodie bag’ last weekend! I’d LOVE them to be able to come along to the Show again next year – but it might not be quite as practical as this year as they are in the throes of selling up & moving to France….

As ever, the GYO Grapevine came to the rescue with a suitable jam recipe (although with hindsight it was written in jam-makers shorthand rather than an Idiot’s Guide) & despite a number of crises involving setting points & jar filling, & the entire kitchen being left in the most revolting sticky state, I made 5 medium size pots of jam which although ‘firm’ are not ‘solid’ & it tastes FAB!

This has given me a real alternative preserving method to ‘bung it in the freezer’ which is just as well given that the freezer is choc-a-block with runner beans. Having picked half-carrier bags over the weekend for my neighbours, my mum, me & a chap in the Club & with plenty more to come, I’m going to investigate how to salt beans – there’s plenty of room in the garage after all. Although they are really tasty, I’ve a definite note for next year to not grow quite as many!

When I went to do some weeding at the Hill yesterday – that rarest of creatures, a hot & sunny August Bank Holiday weekend – Reg-next-plot was digging up some of his strawberry plants & asked if I’d like any. I thanked him for 10 crowns, & made room for a 4’ by 3’ bed by the barlotti bean wigwam by pulling half a dozen turnips. I dug in a couple of big buckets of manure, planted them out, & gave them a good old watering. Actually, they don’t look great, today, but I’m hoping that they will pick up.

More generosity of spirit from Novice Neighbour Jody who was planting out Spring & Red cabbage & had spare plants, so I firmed up an area in plot D where the potatoes were & added some lime (thank you once again, Jody!) & planted them out, covering them with the rabbit run cage – the needs of the new plants being greater than that of the summer cabbages in plot A. These are looking marvellous, actually, & hearting up nicely, although Reg says they need another month.

Although the warm summer evenings are closing in now, there’s still plenty of time for picking, & a bit of weeding & watering – & I must remember these wonderful times for when I’m digging in bucketfuls of horse muck in the depths of winter!


  1. I should have done an 'on toast' shot with me going 'mmmmmmm'! It's a recipe from rosyb and has chopped raisins and orange and lemon peel in it.

    It's got a very pleasant sharpness to it - and I'm going to stick a spoon in to the pan next time I cook duck....

    I might even keep a jar back for the show next year!

  2. ah-erm!! I think theres a law somewhere dating back to 1731 that states for a full and fair evaluation of jams you need to 'consumer test' said jams on as many peoples as possible!

    So I propose: to save you time and effort I will sample said preserves out of the goodeness of my own heart and, at as much risk to my own health as to your reputation as a jam maker may I add!

    I shall then evaluate and post my findings in a official report! I shall draw comparisons with the local jam making expert 'Sainsburys' and conclude with marks out of 10.

    LOL!! only joking, I only wish I had the patience to bother making jams. Maybe one day!!!

    PS. Back is much better!

    Complete and utter novice nieghbour Jody.

  3. Hmm - I MAY be tempted to part with some jam for 'evaluation purposes' as long as it is counted as a downpayment for some of next year's asparagus....?!

    Glad the back is improving - good job that you've dug all the spuds up!

  4. not down the allotment today whats going on? oh hang on I know!! its the jam! your in hospital having it all pumped out i know! Or did it fement and give you the hang over from hell like my elderflower cordial did? only joking of course, you can punch me when you see me!

    You may have a trade deal on yr hands although my memory tends to wain when it comes time to hand over goods!! "what jam? i dunno what yr on about, i never had any!!!!" lol


  5. Cheeky! Had the computer wallah in this morning as I've had PC problems this week - got to the Hill about 2pm - I see that your back hasn't stopped you 'doing a John' with the netting cage on the brassicas. Neat.

    Are you sick of runner beans yet??

  6. well they say you cant keep a good dog down dont they? or something like that! yes im trying to keep things neat n tidy although i am suffering for it now, back is still a little sore! I cant help it im not one to sit still for to long.

    As for runners the last lot were disappointingly stringy. Im told I have to boil them with bicarb of soda? but surely this will take the goodness out? i dunno ill just pick the smaller ones for now and see how they go as i prefer to steam than boil. Not sick of them just yet but not far off!!!


  7. Think that it is important to pick ALL of the beans (or they will stop) - I think that rule of thumb is to pick everything over about 10" - and chuck out anything that is over - say - 15".

    Mine do melt in the mouth - seed from Reg the Veg. There are a LOT of them tho'!

  8. Hazel, I love the polo-shirt.


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