Gooseberry Jam

One of the things about having even a semi-successful allotment is that you end up with gluts of things. You can (and we do) give some stuff away to friends or neighbouring allotmenteers, but you inevitably still end up with quite a lot of one thing at a time. We’ve currently got a lot of gooseberries (despite the best efforts of the greedy wood pigeons on the allotment), and since there’s only so much crumble two people can eat, I decided to make some jam.

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Becoming a Womble

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Last weekend, someone fly-tipped in the car park of a pub that's near our house. The pub is closed at the moment, so the fly-tippers obviously thought the car park would make an ideal location for their illegal activity. It was broad daylight, but we watched in amazement as they roared up, opened the doors and shovelled the stuff out, then sped off again, wheels spinning. When Mr. Bsag went over to see what they'd dumped, he found a huge load of mostly intact ceramic roof tiles, as well as a smaller number of slates.

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Spring wave

We spent some time on the allotment this weekend, tidying up the beds, digging over and weeding those that had been empty over the winter and checking on the progress of our over-wintered crops. The broad beans are struggling a bit (probably because of all the snow and frost we've had), but the garlic is coming on like a champ. We haven't grown garlic before, so that's quite exciting. Our cavolo nero kale stolidly pootles on as only kale can, resisting all but the rapacious wood pigeons who sneak under the netting.

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The end of a cropping year

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I think we've more or less come to the end of the vegetables from our allotment and garden. There are one or two tomatoes left on the plants in our conservatory, but that's it. So I've been looking back on our gardening year. In some ways, we did better than last year. The allotment is more productive and better organised, and some crops that we utterly failed with last year (courgettes and tomatoes, for example) have done fairly well this year.

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Spuds ahoy!

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Although some of our potatoes are probably not quite ready for harvesting just yet (particularly the maincrop variety), we are impatient and decided to try digging up a couple of of the plants to see how they were doing. Other people on the allotment have been complaining that their yields have been very low this year, so we were pleasantly surprised to get quite a good haul. There are some very tiny ones, but also some that will make more than a couple of mouthfuls.

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Tomato lifestyles

We're growing a lot of tomatoes at the moment. We both love tomatoes and can't get enough of them, but last year our crop was a dismal failure (grand total of fruits: 11 ). So this year, we decided to hedge our bets. We grew half of our plants indoors in our unheated conservatory, and half outside on the allotment. Looking at them now, you'd find it hard to believe that they were the same varieties, let alone the same varieties planted at about the same time.

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Sowing time

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It's that time of year again, when a young young-ish not too old girl's thoughts turn to sowing seeds. We saved quite a bit of our seed from last year (chocolate peppers, peas, cherokee beans), but we also went a bit mad with the Real Seed Catalogue to try out some new things. So we've got two types of pea (yellow mangetout and traditional podded peas), two types of beans, three varieties of tomato (I know, but I love tomatoes) and some rainbow chillies amongst over delights.

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Planting roses at dusk

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A while ago, we removed one of the many laurel bushes that were gradually taking over our garden. I don't mind laurel (the leaves are shiny, and it's evergreen), but it is intent on garden domination unless you ruthlessly prune it. Anyway, there was just too much of it for our taste. That left a gaping hole in one of the beds, which we filled in the summer with annual plants like sweet peas and climbing nasturtiums, but we wanted something a bit more permanent.

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Digging and saving seed

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We had a big sort-out of the garden this weekend, trying to tidy things up a bit before winter strikes. We're also making a concerted effort to save seed. A lot of the crops we grew this year were grown from seed supplied by The Real Seed Company. These are all true breeding seeds, so you know exactly what you'll be getting if you save your seed, unlike the F1 hybrid seed provided by a lot of other companies (although it's always worth saving seed and trying it, because it's free).

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Garden update

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After the torrential rain of the past month or so, we finally got out into the garden today to do a bit of tidying up. We're incredibly lucky not to be among the people having to leave their homes because of flooding. We live on a slight hill, and are a reasonable distance from the nearest river, so we've been very lucky. The garden has not escaped quite so lightly.

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