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...........

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Taming Netting & Wine Worries

I had a good idea of what I wanted to get done at the Hill today, I just wasn’t entirely convinced about the best way to do it. All I was sure about was that by the time I left, the brassicas were going to have better netting protection than when I arrived.

First things first, however – as I parked the car up by the club house I saw Sheila (at the top) in the distance & walked up to say thank you again for the courgette chutney recipe.

She showed me her brassicas, neatly covered over with netting, & when I said that the netting I’d bought is great, but not wide enough, she said, ‘oh, I found that too, so I took two pieces & stitched them together at the side hems using twine & a safety pin as a needle.’ Brilliant!

I mulled this over as I walked down to the plot, but then realised that the huge piece of 4m by 8m netting that I’d bought last winter was back in the shed – novice neighbour Jody has been using it to protect his peas all summer, but now he’s taken them down, the netting is free again.

Firstly, I cleared away the final PEAS (ne plus ultra) – if I was pushed to choose just one pea variety, it would be this one, as even when the pods have been massive, the peas are still not mealy – & the BROAD BEANS (barry plot 19, crimson flowered & witkiem manita), saving the pods of all of these as I went. I’ve kept the sweet peas in situ for the time being, although they are coming to the end of their run too.

Then I picked RUNNER BEANS (reg-next-plot & essex bb) & FRENCH BEANS (barlotti jody & purple giant), a couple of COURGETTE (yellow golden & all green bush) & another CUCUMBER (burpless tasty green f1).

After going up to the clubhouse for a chat with the Saturday old boys at lunchtime, there was no postponing the moment any longer & the netting had to be tackled. It took bloody ages & about three goes, but I am now happy that the netting over the brassica bed is now both tall enough & comprehensive in coverage.

Once home with my bag of swag from the plot, I set about the courgette chutney – all ingredients are combined & are steeping for a day before being simmered & put into jars.

Meanwhile, I racked off the gooseberry & rhubarb wine that I started a couple of months ago – it remains stubbornly less than clear with a slight sediment at the bottom, so racking it can’t do any harm & might encourage further clearing.

I took the opportunity to measure the SG (994, giving a 13% strength) & to have a taste. It tasted dreadful, & not at all fruity – rather like the celery wine, in fact. I would say that it has either been tainted by the feared vinegar fly, or it needs de-gassing – so when I put it back into the clean demijohn & gave it a ferocious shaking up, & I’ll see if it tastes the better for it, or whether the wine is doomed…

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