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...........

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Autumn is here...

I’ve had to sit on my hands & think of other things to do this weekend rather than go to the Hill because the only job of note is to pick all those zillions of beans, but I really do want to make sure that they are properly mature on the plants before I pick them for drying, & the only ones that I think have got to that stage are the FRENCH BEANS (early warwick) of which I picked a whole basketful a couple of weeks ago – none of the rest look to have remotely ‘dry & papery’ pods.

Mind you – after a warm & quite sunny weekend, it’s cool, rainy and distinctly autumnal now, so they aren’t likely to be doing much in the way of drying at the moment.
Also, everyone else of my gardening acquaintance seems to be well on with picking their beans, so I think that I should get anything that looks about mature off next weekend & they can all be laid out on newspapers in the spare room.

I’ve not been totally idle – I took a trip to the rather nice cook shop in Leamington Spa in order to try to get some of the smallest Le Parfait preserving jars for making beetroot chutney – these are just perfect ‘gift sized’ for chutneys, & John Lewis seems to have stopped stocking them. Mind you, so does the rather nice cook shop in Leamington Spa, so I’ll have to look further a-field.

I’ve also started off the raspberry & blackcurrant wine – what a wonderful colour! It’s an odd one in that you let the yeast get going with the fruit & water for a few days before you add any sugar – the fruit must be sweet enough on its own. I’m guessing that this is to stop it going bananas – it’s pretty wild as it is!

And this week’s rather nice surprise is that the grapevine in the courtyard garden – which is having its very best year ever – has not only produced half a dozen or so decent sized bunches of grapes, but they are ripening up, & (although pippy) taste really rather good. I’ve definitely got my eye on it for wine making for next year…


  1. Hi Hazel, I haven't made any wine for a couple of years now (no time now that I'm retired!) but I always get the fermentation going for 3 -5 days before adding the sugar. The fruit sugar will fement out in this time and the sugar you are adding (probably beet sugar here) will then take over. It prevents the 'stuck fermentation' problem, when your wine stops working while it's till very sweet. Wine yeasts are meant for fermenting fruit sugar but by the time you stick in your commercial suggar it has got going really well, and of course, it's multiplied. I usually put raisins in when the wine is not made from fruit, for the same reason.

    Sounds like a tasty brew!

  2. Well you live and learn!

    Of course that does beg the question of how much sugar to add (being rather a novice at this wine making lark) - if all the sugar goes in at the start, I can make up the mix such that the SG is about 1.08, and let it get on with it, but then I haven't had stuck fermentation problems.

    If the wine ferments the fruit sugar out, how much sugar to add? I'll bung in a couple of pounds, I guess and measure SG before and after for future ref (CJJ Berry calls for 3lb, but he caters for the sweet of tooth, I think!) and see how it turns out!

  3. Hi Hazel
    Lakeland in Touchwood do different sized jars, maybe worth giving them a ring or you could go the modern way and log onto their web site. Its where you can get fancy labels for jam jars as well

  4. Already tried on line with Lakeland - the smallest they do is 0.5l, and last year at John Lewis I had some 200ml which were just spot on.

    I looked on line and I can get hold of them, but the p&p is fairly prohibitive, so I hoped to get them from a proper shop...


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