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...........

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rhubarb Wine - 3 Months

The rhubarb wine has now been sitting quietly for a couple of months - it stopped fermenting ages ago & it has been happy to be left to its own devices to sloooooowly clear, leaving a slight layer of pale sediment on the bottom of the demijohn.

The sediment will taint the wine if it's left in the demijohn too long, so it's time to siphon off the good clear stuff into a bucket & discard the yuck.

Once the clear wine has been safely siphoned through the tube into the bucket, the next stage is to de-gas the wine - when CO2 gas is locked in the wine, it is said to affect both the taste & appearance of the wine, although it does dissipate over time.

De-gassing wine involves shaking it all about vigorously & splashing is back & forth between demijohn & bucket a number of times in order to release any carbon dioxide gas present.

The wine ends up back in the demijohn with a teaspoon of potassium sorbate & a crushed campden tablet - a belt & braces measure, these chemicals stopping any possibility of further fermentation in the bottles.

Any sediment should appear & settle out quickly, & it will be ready to bottle in a couple of weeks.

Oh - do remember to have a taste, but don't be surprised if its not perfect at this point - it will need a good six months in the bottles where further magic will transform it from simply alcoholic fruit juice into something really rather good.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Generous Yields!

Number 1 - potatoes

All these charlotte potatoes dug up today from just six plants in an area 4' by 4'.

Number 2 - courgettes

All these courgettes from just five plants - and all these produced in the last 5 days. Note to self: DO NOT GROW FIVE PLANTS NEXT YEAR!

Chutney already made using a couple of large ones from earlier in the week, courgette cake recipe (kindly supplied by Veg Heaven) to be made tomorrow. Courgette wine still a possibility, although - frankly - not immediately appealing.

Number 3 - french beans

This dinner plate full of triomphe de farcy dwarf french beans picked today off about four plants.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Days of Plenty!

Looking at this little lot, it occurs to me that I have possibly got too many COURGETTE plants on the go.

Interestingly, I have the plants that the very pale green courgettes were cut from down in my notes as 'black beauty' - I think not, black beauty are glossy dark green.

No worries, though, not only do I hope to make courgette chutney, but I think that size of the courgette mountain might allow me to make an experimental batch of courgette wine.

In fact, I had a wine racking session last night - the strawberry in particular is remarkably promising. With each of the two REDCURRANT & two BLACKCURRANT bushes yielding 2lb of currants each (now in the freezer), I have the next two fruit wines lined up too.

I also dug up the GARLIC bulbs this week - they are fabulous & all I have to do is put a few matching ones on one side for the Show (approaching fast!) before plaiting the rest to hang up to store in the garage.

No vampires round here!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Strawberry Delight!

The plot looks good in the sunshine - the crops are good, the weeds are few; but there is still no rain, despite the weather being sultry & oppressive.

I took mum to the Hill on Monday lunchtime for a look round & a spot of light PEA (reg) picking & POTATO (mona lisa) digging. We saw Julie (2nd best pl0t) with her sunhat & trug picking salad for tea.

She had some suspiciously tall lettuce picked, & when she saw that I'd spotted them said, 'If I take all the leaves off the stalks, no one will notice that they've bolted. I'd forgotten that they were interplanted with the taller brassicas, & it was only after they got to a couple of feet tall & I saw them peeping over the top of the cabbages that I remembered them!'

We discussed what a good year it had been for strawberries - Julie hasn't been able to give them away quick enough.
'After all,' she said, 'there is only so much strawberry jam, sorbet, crumble & syrup you can make with the ones that are left over from plain eating - & I've offered them to everyone here to help themselves too.'

At this point I confessed that I knew of her great strawberry glut though Rhubarb Brian, potager Chrissie & cheery Brian & Pauline, all of whom had told me over the past week or so that family Julie were overrun, & so I'd taken the liberty of picking a pound or two myself in order to make a batch of strawberry wine - there will be a bottle put aside for Julie, of course.

Actually I had another cheeky source of strawberries to use for jam this year at home - next door have moved away & the house is empty, so with a fence panel removed between our gardens whilst I have some work done at the back, there has been ready access to their strawberry patch - better to be used that to be left to rot, I say.

Maybe I should give the new people when they arrive a pot of jam.
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