Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Harvest Time Part 3 - No More Plums, Please!

 A little over a week ago I picked all the victoria plums from the tree you can see here.  Strangely, in the photo it doesn't look like very many, but trust me, it was a lot, our biggest crop ever.
 I didn't weigh the plums, but I estimate the crop at around 40 pounds.  I also picked the Katy apples as the weather was due to turn bad so didn't want them getting blown off.  So what do you do with 40 pounds of plums?  My Mum was away in Canada so I couldn't palm some off on her.
Se there followed a full week of plum processing; by the end of the week I had 12 bottles of plums in syrup (centre of the picture), 12 pounds of jam (left and right), 10 boxes of stewed plums in the freezer and managed to eat a few pounds raw.  Oh, and we had plum sponge/crumble every day, my hands were stained orange, and covered in tiny cuts from slipping knives.  I'm sure I will appreciate this lovely fruit over the winter but right now I am sick of seeing plums!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Harvest Time 2013 Part 2

 With the fine weather due to break, I decided to dig up the second potato crop - these are Cosmos.  Just in time, it started to rain 8 hours later and has not stopped raining since, 15 hours later!  There is only one job worse than digging up potatoes - digging up potatoes in waterlogged ground.  24 hours on, my back is still aching.  Of course, I could have got my Other Half to help, if I had wanted sliced and diced potatoes, of course.  :)

The crop is fairly good, with about 8 potatoes per plant.  Some damage due to slugs mainly, with increasing damage on the wetter part of the bed.  But no blight this year due to the good weather, and it's certainly the best potato crop for years.
I also picked the first victoria plums and took the opportunity to prune the tree as well, a bit late but it needed doing as didn't prune it last year due to the wet summer.  The combination of these two things means the branches are less likely to wave about and get damaged in the wet weather now.  There are a few good eating plums in here but many of these are the damaged fruit which I will cook and put in the freezer.  Looks like another good crop this year, I probably left 5 times this quantity on the tree, so lots more to come.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Harvest Time 2013 Part 1

 It's the time of the year when all the hard work starts to pay off.  I have dug up the first crop of potatoes, Lady Balfour (I think, can't find the label), an early maincrop.  I actually started eating them a couple of weeks ago but they needed a little bit more time in the ground, even though they were delicious then.  Still have another crop to go, they're not quite there yet so I have time to dry and sort these.  Should have enough potatoes to see us through till Christmas.

I also investigated the carrots, pulling a few thinnings out to have a look.  I have been trying to grow carrots for 10 years and think I have finally cracked it this year.  The variety is Autumn King, which seems happy in our heavy soil and because we are overrun with carrot fly, I grew these under insect mesh from the start.  I am happy to report that there is absolutely no carrot fly damage so I think this will be the way to grow them in future.
I have a number of wild brambles in the corner of the plot which is not capable of cultivation, they are around an old tree stump, the tree was cut down several years ago now.  They have never produced anything worth eating but this year are covered in juicy blackberries.  The autumn raspberries are also starting to produce fruit and the strawberry plants which went in as new, tiny things earlier this year have also produced a late crop, so it has been a good year for fruit so far.