Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Been making...

Dulce de Membrillo, or Quince cheese to you and me. It took ages - cleaning the quince to remove the fuzz...

then chopping (which was hard!), then cooking with lemon juice for 3 hours...

before pushing through a sieve and cooking the pulp with lots of sugar for 30 mins stirring continuously.

But it was worth it. It tasted delicious and impressed my lunch guests when I bought out the cheese, fruit, crackers and membrillo.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Been picking...

I love this time of year, reaping the rewards of the year's hard work. I've been picking apples, from my 2 trees plus a neighbours. Have also had a fantastic crop of William bon chretien pears - the boughs were bending under the weight. We have 10 jars of plum jam from my fantastic crops of Czar plums. I also have my first crop of Vranja quince to pick. Counted over 30 of them!

My daughter and I have also been doing one of favourite late summer past-times - wondering the river banks and hedgerows at the allotment picking blackberries.

Think we'll be making another apple and blackberry pie today!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

How can it be nearly April???

I've been so busy recently that I didn't know it was almost April! I'm not sure I've done much work on my allotment this year and am fully booked for most of the next few weekends. Oh dear.

My original plot isn't too bad - all raised beds that were prepared in autumn. They need a bit of weeding as do the gravel paths, and to re-erect some rustic trellis but apart from that all is well. Ok, almost well - the shed and raised could do with a coat of paint, the cherry I'm shaping into a fan needs some attention and the little lawn needs cutting, but nothing major.

The new plot however is going nowhere (except the greenhouse that I have completed). I've turned the soil in a couple of places (attempts at beds) but I haven't weeded them. I've planted two trees - a family apple and a plum - but that's about it. It seems like such a daunting task - where to start?!?

The good news is that I've started sowing seeds - have quite a few little tomato, pepper, aubergine, chilli plants as well as cucumbers and courgettes growing (also some flowers for the garden at home).

I need to work out where I can grab some hours in the next couple of weeks - not easy with w/e visits/visitors and a nearly 5 year old who doesn't want to do anything after school except eat, play and watch tv!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Allotment resolutions

A bit late, but I've only just got my gardening hat on! I've decided to make some gardening resolutions - and stick to them! These are:

1. Label my plants! I was very disappointed before Christmas to find out that I didn't have any Brussel sprouts for Christmas lunch. I think I only have tender sprouting broccoli (so not totally disappointed). But I'm going to label everything this year so I know what's what. I sometimes use a mix of tape on the side of seed trays/writing in paint pens on the side of pots but more often than not I rely on my memory. I'm not going to stop taping/writing on pots etc, but will buy a bag of lolly sticks from a craft shop to use as labels as well. This way I can label plants and the labels can go into the ground so I'll know what's there.

2. Succession plant. I usually plant loads at the beginning of the year but then never do a second or third batch. I get gluts and it's all over! So, I will so less more frequently!

3. Give my original greenhouse a good clean. Enough said!

4. Plant more flowers. I already have roses, gladioli (for cutting) self seeded nasturtiums and loads of lovely pink poppies, as well as the annual batch of sunflowers, but I'm going to be more floriferous this year.

5. Sit down more and enjoy it! I've got a couple of pallets to make benches and have been given an old bench to recondition.

So, there's my allotment resolutions for this year. Now, will I keep to them???

Sunday, 23 January 2011

We have a date!

The girls will be with us at the beginning of February. I'm so excited, I was out finishing the run today! I still need to get feed and stuff but my local pet shop said that if I give them a list they'll get it for me and deliver the goods. That's helpful, thank you local pet shop.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Date for our hens

Just heard that the next re-homing day for the rescued battery hens will be 5 February. I'm so excited!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

New plot - started digging

A short post to share my very slow progress in transforming my new plot. It's all grass and heavily infested with couch grass. It's also very uneven. So I'm going to dig the whole thimg over from one end to the other and level it out then add paths etc.

Here's where I've got to - just turned the soil really and removed a few roots. Hopefully I'll be able to do a more thorough job when the weather improves.

New Chicken Coop

I thought I'd report back on my hunt for a chicken coop. After lots of research I'd decided on a relatively cheap (about £100) wooden coop with a smallish run that I could extend. I told my partner (and purchaser of the coop) about my choice and he promptly told me I had to think very carefully about the purchase and set about redoing my research (men!).

Anyway, he booked us in to visit Southmead poultry near Leatherhead. The very helpful lady explained all about keeping chickens, talked us through the pros and cons of wooden and plastic (eglu) coops and sent us on our way with lots of questions answered and even more to think about.

After a couple of days pondering we finally decided. We didn't fancy spraying the coop weekly with red mite killer so we decided on a Eglu go. It seems like the healthier (for the chickens) and low maintenance option. I hadn't seriously considered one of these before as I thought they were too small for 3 hens (and too expensive). But the chicken lady seem to think that it was the size of the run that's important and the coop should be cosy (if put in a big space they'll huddle together in one corner) and David was happy to pay for a good coop.

So we have an Eglu go and are getting run extentions to give the chooks lots space when they are not out and about free ranging. I'm going to keep the girls in my garden to start with whilst they get used to life outside the cage and will then move them to the allotment where they are to spend their life ridding me of slugs, providing manure for my compost and eggs for my breakfast and generally entertaining us and hopefully having a fab time to make up for their bad start in life!

I'll post some pics when the girls arrive!