Sunday, 18 September 2011

Autumn is a-comin'

  • The carrot wine is bottled 
  • Elder tree has been stripped of berries (not by me!)
  • The log store framework is underway
  • Hazelnuts have been collected
  • The borders are almost tidy
  • Compost pile no. 2 is breaking down nicely
  • No sign of the rocket or spinach I planted
  • Rabbits are trying to dig back into the wild area at the top of the garden
  • Pumpkin fruit have been de-cluttered

Carrot wine
After a little taster and the addition of a tad more sugar the wine is bottled and sitting in the rack ready for Christmas.  It's a little sweet for my taste, but it would have been too sharp without the additional sugar. But wow, does it have a kick!  The difficulty now is keeping my hands off it until Christmas, although hiding it in the cupboard under the stairs does help.

Unfortunately for me, my elder tree produced most of its berries on the side that overhangs my neighbours garden. Fortunately for me, I have lovely neighbours and they were happy for me to pop round anytime and pick the berries.  Unfortunately for me, by the time I got round there early last week, the tree had been picked clean the birds! Not to worry, a short trip this weekend to nearby Respryn with my neighbour Sue and her two girls brought in great rewards with 5 freezer bags full (just over 6lbs) of elderberries.  Just some large bags of sugar required and I'll be starting it later this week.

I've also been keeping an eye on the sloes in the hedgerow at work; they're in abundance this year.  I know you're supposed to wait until there's been a frost before you pick them but, to be honest, we don't tend to get frosts down here until later in winter so I'm just going to wait until they feel soft and I'll pick them; not for sloe gin, but to have a go at sloe wine.  There's also a recipe in my CJJ Berry book that says 2/3 elderberry and 1/3 sloe makes a good wine - possibly 6 bottles of elderberry and 6 of elderberry & sloe wine this year then?

Log store
I've had some much appreciated help from Sue's husband this past week, in getting the log store underway. A couple of weekends ago, I started by clearing, levelling (which also included removing enough soil to fill 7 wheelbarrows) and compacting the ground only to then remember that I'd lent my saw to a friend and couldn't proceed with installing the support posts.  In steps Carl with his trusty saw, hammer and nails and up go the posts and 2/3 of the roof.  There's only the side slats to put in - I'll be using the wood left over from when the fence was cut down earlier this year - and a cover for the front to be found (I'm thinking along the lines of heavy tarpaulin) and it'll be finished. Hurray!

Well I've managed to get enough to make what I call my 'winter cookies' this year; the filling is white chocolate, cranberry and hazelnuts.  It's popular amongst family and friends.  If I remember I'll post the recipe when I make them. Thankfully, the strong winds of the last week have helped by shedding loads of nuts into the garden; saving me the trouble of having to reach up into the trees in my hedge to try and get at those 'just out of reach' ones.  There's about 12oz (340gms) in the dish so far; I'd like to get a full 1lb (450gms) if I can.....just a few more windy days might help.

Border plants
I've been far too ashamed to show any images of my lawn borders recently; for fear of being accused of cruelty to plants or neglecting my gardening duties. So the last couple of weeks, I've been out after work on the odd pleasant evening and tidied them up.  The Forget-Me-Nots have gone mad this year and it's about time they were replaced with something less invasive, so I've been clearing them out (I know I won't get them all this year) to make space for something with an autumn/winter interest. I've also been dead-heading the Siddalcea, the Herb Marsh Mallows and the Glory-of-the-Snow but left the seed heads of the Alliums on for a little longer; I rather enjoy the silvery grey colour in the garden this time of year.

Weeding has been a big problem as the weather's been ideal for weeds and I've struggled to keep on top of it. But I'm finally managing to get around the borders one bit at a time. I'm using the last of the compost from Pile no. 1 as a layer of mulch on top of the border soil; I hope it will help to keep them down. Talking of compost........

Pile no. 2 is breaking down nicely; I bought an 'activator' to help speed up the process and it's worked a treat - just wish I could remember the name of it now!  Once I've used the rest of Pile no. 1 on the borders I'll be starting it over again.  There's still a couple of bags of horse manure that have been breaking down for 12 months and they'll go on the raised veg beds soon enough.  Should all help towards a good growing season next year.

Rocket and spinach
Of which there has not been a peep! Maybe I did leave it a little too late to plant the seeds, but I was hoping for at least some small leaves around now.  Never mind, keeping a record of things like this will help me to do better next time.

Those damn 'wabbits'
Ok so some of it's my fault, I haven't managed to get up the top of the garden and strim away the rest of the overgrown area.  As a result, on taking a walk up there the other evening I discovered a freshly dug hole in the ground. Now it was heading towards the hedge and my neighbour's garden on the other side (not Sue and Carl's garden) so I didn't feel too bad about digging it back in as there's probably other entrances on his side of the garden.  But it does mean that if we get a dry evening this week (not looking hopeful I have to say) then I'm going to have to get up there with the strimmer and clear it down to the ground and check for other potential 'digs'.  Oh, and I'll be having a serious word with Jasper as well - obviously not the great rabbit killer he made himself out to be last year!

These have developed around 6 small fruit and there are still some flowers developing.  So, I've taken all but two fruits off so far and raised them above the ground to prevent them from rotting.  The plant will need to be helped along with some tomato feed now.  The mildew (see previous post 'Future fruits' dated 28th August)  that appeared on some leaves doesn't seem to have spread since I sprayed with the mixture of Bicarbonate of Soda and water, so fingers crossed...........!


Ben Hardy said...

So you recommend carrot wine? I have been wondering what to do for my November wine, and you may have answered my question.

Sloe wine, for me, is currently on trial. First go was interesting and well worth doing. Second go was diabolical. So I taste the third go in about a fortnight, and I will report back on my blog. I have, though, just had a bottle of commercial sloe wine. It was too sweet for my taste but dangerously like a non-curranty ribena. Dangerous, because it was 14.5%.

Sensory Dragon said...

Hi Ben, I suppose the real test for the carrot wine will come at Christmas when I take a bottle up for the family table and see how it's received then!

My CJJ Berry book says that 2/3 elderberry and 1/3 sloe make a good wine - have you ever tried that mixture? Sounds like the sloe could be very dangerous on it's own! I'll give it a go after the elderberry anyway and let you know how I get on. I'll be waiting eagerly for your results in a couple of weeks.

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Well done on your foraging! Looks like a good haul :)

Sensory Dragon said...

Hi Tanya, I couldn't believe the luck with the elderberries! Being new on the foraging 'ladder' I get a little braver each year so I'm grateful for your tip on the rose hip tea from you blog too.

I also noticed a lot of ivy laden with berries whilst out walking last weekend, so hopefully I'll be able to get some to adorn the living room for Christmas this year - just love those natural decorations.

Shaheen said...

Carrot wine - wow. I am intrigued. I am hoping to go foraging for elderberries soon.

Sensory Dragon said...

Hi Shaheen, thanks for the comment. I must admit I'm a little intrigued too - it's only my third attempt at making wine. Having previously made elderberry and peach (both of which were drinkable!) I decided on trying a vegetable-based wine. Fingers crossed it'll still be drinkable by Christmas! Have fun with the elderberry forage - hope you get to them before the birds do!

Shaheen said...

Thank ou so much Sensory Dragon.
I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Also thank you so much for becoming a follower, it is very kind of you.