bunn: (Wild Garden)
Yesterday it rained.  I had planned to garden, but the sudden downpours were too much. Instead we went wandering around Tavistock for several hours with the hounds (and took them to our favorite dog-friendly cafe for lunch).  I managed to get some more titanium white acrylic paint and then since the shop had an offer, I bought some silver, buff titanium, and Naples Yellow (which at least in the Windsor and Newton range seems to be quite a muted pinkish shade).     Foster Ruggie was quite tired out by town life, and fell fast asleep in the cafe, so Brythen and Rosie got to split a home-made burger and chips between them.  Brythen ate all the chips. Chips are not refined enough for Rosie Roo.

ramble ramble ramble )
bunn: (Wild Garden)
I always seem to take lots of photos of the garden in Spring, and then everything starts growing like triffids,  it all goes a bit aaargh and I don't take any photos after that.  So I decided today as I had taken down a tree I should take photos.

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September

Sep. 10th, 2015 11:46 am
bunn: (Berries)
It's that time of year when suddenly the disappointment of August rain, damp heat and biting flies clears away, the air is comfortably cool and pleasant and the sun shines.  I had blackberries and hazelnuts for breakfast on our morning walk.   I don't think the nuts are going to hold out much longer, but the blackberries are particularly generous this year.

When we walk past the pigs, I always pick a handful of blackberries for them, although getting a berry to an individual pig is somewhat hit and miss.  Pigs seem to have appalling eyesight and are not as good as I'd thought they might be at finding small items of food by scent, either, though they become very excited and run about squeaking delightedly. I'm not sure if this is in the nature of all pigs, or if perhaps these particular pigs are of a commercial variety where ability to scent food and see has been bred out in favour of swifter growth.

I didn't manage to pick enough whortleberries this year to make whortleberry jelly, mostly due to the need to travel fast and light across country in order to adequately watch what Rosie is getting up to.  I just grabbed handfuls in passing and ate them there and then.   But I have picked some crabapples and rowan berries, which are currently in the freezer.   Rowan definitely needs freezing before you jelly it, or the flavour becomes overwhelming. It's a good year for apples, here. 
bunn: (Beach)
But in fact I only got one good photo of a camellia, in the whole National Camellia Collection.  And it was a pink one, which is my least favorite sort: I prefer the dark red ones, or the plain white ones (only the white ones look so manky once they start to turn brown around the edges)
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Then yesterday I mowed the lawns!  In March!  And I pruned a couple of the apple trees, which is probably a bit late really, but although the grass is very much awake, the apple trees still seem to be very snoozy, so with a bit of luck I will get away with it.

And today I walked to Luckett and back, which is about five and a half miles, which I consider to be a very healthy walk.
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bunn: (Berries)
This weekend, I have made four jars of blackberry jelly, and am in the process of making rowan jelly too.   I have also made some blackberry whiskey.

The fig tree continues to be wildly productive, and had two more ripe fruit today, although I think the rate of ripening is slackening off now that the weather is getting a little cooler.

The apple trees have not done well this year.  I think I'm going to prune them fairly heavily this autumn, in the hope of bringing them back to productive life. 

Brrrr

May. 24th, 2013 07:48 pm
bunn: (Wild Garden)
Despite appearances, I did not take this photo of blackthorn against a stormy sky in March. I took it this morning.

IMG_20130524_110518

There have been no mayflowers at all yet this year, and it needs to get a wiggle on, or they will be june-flowers. I was thinking that my big apple tree is going to have another fallow year this year, and requires a severe pruning - but observing the hawthorns and the lack of rowan-flowers, I may give it a bit longer before I do anything drastic. Admittedly, most of the apple trees inthe valley are flowering their hearts out, but this one could still be late, I think.
bunn: (Wonderous Radish)
OK, I have not actually created two vast and trunkless legs of stone.   But I have done a hell of a lot of gardening.
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 After all this gardening I was rather feeble when walking the dogs, and about half way round, decided to have a nice sit down.  This caused all three dogs to come haring back to see what was up with me. I must try this tactic again! 

BERRIES!

Aug. 20th, 2012 11:12 pm
bunn: (Berries)
I picked some rowan berries last week, which are now in the freezer, becoming milder and more edible in flavour before undergoing transformation into rowan jelly.  There seems to be a bit of a shortage of crabapples this year - most of my favorite crab trees are completely fruitless.   I think this must be down to the dampness of the spring, though it may have something to do with the lack of summer sun, too.    But I did find one tree that had clearly managed to seize exactly the right moment to flower, so I have enough crabs to make jelly.

My apple trees - well, they have *some* apples on them. But not many, and they are rather small crabby efforts: I fear we will not get many eating apples this year.  I think I have to put it down to a bad year.   It's been a bad year for figs too - just not enough sun to ripen them. I've only had three ripe figs all year, and none of them were really dark and sweet.

Blackberries, however, are everywhere, and I filled half a tub with them on this evening's dogwalk before Yogi plastered herself in mud and we had to go and find the pond.   A lot of the blackberries are flyblown already - all this rain definitely favours the flies - but a walk down the west side of the hill into the sunset found enough worth the picking.  Going back up the hill, the sun had fallen below the level of the mounded clouds overhead, so a golden radience flooded in over the shoulder of Bodmin moor, illuminating a goodly number of berries that I had failed to notice on the way down.

I wonder about the flies that lay their maggots in blackberries, are they a special sort of blackberry-fly, or are they generic flies just taking advantage?

Fruit

Jun. 23rd, 2012 09:58 pm
bunn: (Wonderous Radish)

Garden joys )
bunn: (Default)
Today I have made 4 and a half jars of apple chutney.  I still have a lot of apples and some vinegar, onions and sultanas left so I may make some more yet.  My attempt to Eat All the Apples has failed : even eating 4 or 5 apples a day the lawn is covered in them.

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Read more... )

This weekend, my mother finally made it home after her broken hip. She's still walking on crutches and the leg is painful - not because of the hip, but because of the original problem that probably caused her to fall over in the first place. She has had pretty good care, I think, which is cheering. Note: if you want to break your hip, August is a good time to do it, because the busy time for hip-breaking is the winter. We still have her dogs, as she is not up to walking them yet. I don't know if they will both go back to her or not, but I'm leaving that decision to her. It's a bit of a pain having four dogs, but worse things happen at sea and all that.

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bunn: (Berries)
It is the time of year when I look around the jungle garden and am overcome with woe at all the things I didn't manage to keep up with. I've not taken any photos of the veg beds. They are just too depressing.
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Ripenings

Jul. 30th, 2011 06:50 pm
bunn: (Berries)
Not only are the early apples ripe (and falling off the tree!) a good two weeks or more early, but there are blackberries ripe in the most sheltered spots - and not just the odd one either, I could make a crumble if I felt so inclined!

Whereas up on the hill, there are still whortleberries on the bushes - normally I'm sure they would be well over by now - and some of the plants have flowers on again - at the same time as the berries!

A fortnight or so ago, I met a grumpy old woman who was picking whortleberries. When I commented politely that it was a good year, she grumbled at me that 'everyone' was picking them.  Even if this were true - and I'm up there often twice a day, and have seen very few other people showing any interest in the bumper crop - the bushes are loaded with the things and have been for months.  There are so many berries that many have got overripe and are falling off, leaving purple splats on the ground, and I come back from walks with my mouth and fingers a virulent purple.

In other news : clearings, choppings and planting plans )

In Other other news, I went to Tavistock, where I bought:a number of things with remarkable speed )

Apples

Jul. 20th, 2011 08:50 pm
bunn: (Berries)
Today I had the first apple off the early apple tree.  Oddly, the top of the tree has not really set fruit but the bottom of the tree is weighed down with it. It's a good week or more before they are usually ripe, too.

I have also managed to find some more sheltered rowan trees that managed to set fruit this year - was it a particularly windy spring, I wonder?  The ones in exposed positions seem to have very little fruit.  But the little crab apple trees are covered: I have filled my bag with crabapples and not made a dent!  Jelly here we come!
Wittering about the photo )Random pony )
 
bunn: (Berries)
 There's an excellent letter in the Western Morning News from the secretary of http://www.orchardslive.org.uk/ (the organisation that I think is mostly behind my lovely North Devon Mazzards! )  extolling the virtues of 'traditional'  big apple trees with 10 foot stems in smaller gardens. 

Admittedly, mine isn't a particularly small garden, but none the less I think she has it spot on.  My garden would have a lot less room in it if I had pruned my trees  to keep their height restricted, as is often advised.  As it is, I can walk under the branches of most of the trees, and although I topped my cherry 'summer sun' last year, I now think this was something of a mistake - that tree only has a 5-foot stem, and it's too low, now the tree is maturing the branches are hanging down rather than reaching up, and you can't get past it.   I think this winter I shall have to go the other way and lift the crown!  

Fruit trees do not produce particularly dense shade, so you can still use the space underneath - and a bush tree that would entirely fill a small garden would be entirely manageable if the fruiting branches were up out of the way overhead.  And you can still harvest a lot of apples just by application of a children's fishing net.  Also, a bit of summer shade keeps the grass from growing quite so fast. And a good way of using lawn mowings is to dump them at the foot of a fruit tree, which will happily Slurp them up and use them to make more apples. 
bunn: (Berries)
News story here : Sales of blueberries have overtaken those of raspberries
is riddled with wrongness! 

Britain is mostly on alkaline soil?  That'll be a surprise to all the specialist growers of rhododendrons and azaleas - and to all the people working to try to eliminate invasive wild rhodos from acidic British soils!   It surprised me, as I am currently eating handfuls of whortleberries (a close relative of the blueberry) on most of my walks. You need to be careful how many you put in a muffin though.  Otherwise you end up with a sort of grey squishy pudding.  Very tasty, but not a thing of beauty!

I'm dubious about the idea that the plants are beset with pests too.  So far as I can see, the reason that some fruits (raspberries, strawberries gooseberries, currants) are grown in Britain and some aren't so much (figs, blueberries, kiwi fruit etc) is simply that in Britain, land is very expensive and so is labour.  This is not a cheap place to grow any kind of fruit commercially, and fruit growing has been in decline for generations. Most fruit plants take years to establish, so there is little incentive for growers to experiment with new species.

In other news, I've just eaten an apple from the early apple tree: very red, but rather too tart still.  Give it another week or so.   I had to fight my way through undergrowth to get there though - could really do with a couple of days to just mow and chop nonstop, with no rain!
bunn: (Berries)
I ate 4 strawberries out of the greenhouse today.   The ones not in the greenhouse are almost as well developed, to be honest - but none of their berries has actually turned red yet, so the greenhouse planting  was worth doing.   Very fine flavour they had too.

The biggest eating apple tree, which has had a couple of bad years recently and which I have therefore been cherishing with mulch and clearing of undergrowth and shading, is absolutely COVERED in blossom.  I've never seen so many flowers and buds on a single tree, it's amazing!

I can't imagine even half of them are going to manage to set fruit, but in the meanwhile it's quite a sight.  And with a bit of luck we'll get a decent amount of fruit off it.

The smaller apple tree which was so very happy last year, seems slightly less blossomladen, but then it's a later tree generally, so I'm not writing it off yet.

Rowan Jelly

Aug. 2nd, 2009 08:48 pm
bunn: (Berries)
This morning I picked 5 1/2 pounds of rowan berries.  Rowan berries are much easier to pick than other berries. No prickles, you don't have to bend down and they are pleasantly firm and don't squish.  No maggots either (there was the odd earwig, but they are easy to spot, and I don't mind earwigs).   I was aiming for 3 pounds, but  I am bad at estimating weights. 

Then philmophlegm and I boiled them with some windfall apples and sugar, and now we have 5 lovely pots of rowan jelly.  YAY!  Rowan jelly that you buy in shops is pale and sort of yellowish, but mine is bright red.  Odd.  Will be interesting to see if it fades with time.   At the moment it's still hot so fingers crossed that it sets!   I think it will, because the dribble left in the pan set beautifully: that will be the apples. It's nice to find a good use for windfalls. 

 Well, that was 3 and a half pounds of them, anyway, as that was all that would fit into the biggest pan. I still have 2 pounds left.  I'm not sure what to do with them.  More jelly?  I'd be tempted by this recipe for Rowan Wine only I don't have any demijons so it would cost money. 

The Internet says that you should leave rowan berries till the first frost, but obviously I didn't do that.  I suspect that this advice comes from colder climates, but If there are any left by the first frost (which in Cornwall will be pretty late) I might try getting some more and contrasting the flavour. 

I could do Rowan Schnapps, I'd only need to buy vodka for that. Or this jam sounds interesting. 


Edit: found a suggestion that freezing them can improve flavour anyway, it's the cold that makes the difference rather than staying on the trees.  Therefore, I should freeze the remainder and contrast! 

In a second culinary experiment, we made cauliflower cheese with a purple cauliflower.  The whole thing came out a brilliant purple, which was very odd. 
bunn: (garden)
Just ate the first apple.  The early eating apple tree has again not done well this year, but now we've cleared around it, it is looking happier: I'm hopeful that next year it will do better.  It would probably like a mulch of compost.

I've just been cutting back the grape vine - it made a lot of growth this year, but no grapes :-( , There were flowers earlier but they didn't set - I'm not sure if this is weather or something else.

I've cut back the fig too, but that is covered in figlets, some of them quite big, so it's just a matter of cutting back the leaves from shading them.

This robin came and watched me cutting things back:

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