Thursday, 19 September 2013

Plums, missus?

After most of my little veg crop failed last year because it was so wet, I didn't bother this year.

Instead I concentrated on growing my indoor chilies and capsicums  and my fruit trees. All two of them, an apple and a plum.

The chilies and capsicums (peppers) I grow the really, really lazy way. I know I could get someone to fetch me seeds from a garden center. I won't buy seedlings anyway, because they tend to be sickly and pathetic hydroponic things shocked into compost. Besides, they cost money, if only in travel costs.

Nah. You know the peppers you buy from the supermarket? The immature seeds you throw away? Not I. Homemade compost from veg left overs, and seeds that have been left to dry on  a tray for a couple of days.

My success rate is about two out of ten seedlings. But that's no problem, when you're chopping up peppers for cooking you get hundreds. This is northern UK, and you'd be lucky to get the 19 - 25 C that they need, so three Chilies per plant is great.

 I just water them when their compost feels dry, and use tomato food, about 15 ml per 500 ml water once a week.

These Chilies are 7 inches long and still growing. It takes very little effort. I'd be the first to admit that  since you can buy them, why bother?

Because I can.  And because it costs me little more than liquid tomato food from the local Nissan shop. 

Meanwhile, the Apple tree was planted temporarily under a willow. So no fruit this year. 

But The Plums. Oh boy. They are a month early, and we are picking those every day. Often, 5 lbs a day, including windfalls.

So it's plum jam, dried plum, frozen plums, plums preserved in syrup,  plum sauce, chutneys and plums I can barter for apples, damsons, rose hips, whatever someone has an excess of. Plum and Chilli Jam, which by the way lasts for a year, seems popular.

Meanwhile, time to dead-head the lavender - which will be eaten or bartered one way or another. Likewise with the rosemary, closely related to and interchangeable with lavender in recipes.

Oh, and those little white flowers you can see behind the plums above to wall on the raised bed? That's garlic that I planted two years ago that a rather planting adverse relative who sharpens trees into pencils, dumped two feet of home made compost on a year ago.

That's going to great in salads and stews, even if we find no cloves beneath. 

I'm totally plum'd out. Phew.


Rare Lesser Spotted said...

What a fabulous collection of fruits, and such a great plan to use them. I would be interested to know how how long they last you after you've processed or picked them?
Well done

Paula R C Readman said...

I'm really pleased with my tomatoes I grew from seed I collected from tomatoes I brought. This year I grew pepper seed I collected too. I even have four aubergine I grew which I've never tried before.

Now I'm going to see what deep fired green tomatoes taste like as I have a lot of them that aren't going to ripen.

Wheelie said...

Thanks for the replies xx

Paula, Fried Green Tomatoes feature a lot in Jamaican dishes. I live on the top of a hillside overlooking a valley which is a great view, but the wind sweeps across so it's really hard to grow Toms, sweet peas or broad beans.

Luckily, I barter with a Jamaican family a few doors away who (perhaps deliberately) buy way too much. I'll scrounge some recipes too.

Stephen. Hiya mate. I made a damson jam last year that Bear stuck at the back of a cupboard which she is using quite happily. But it was a traditional jam - equal weight fruit and sugar and a dash of lemon juice to up the acidity. The darn thing is like glue.

Chutneys, pickles and piccalilli seem to last for ever, tho' pickled onions go soft over time, which I find yuck. The vinegar is the preservative there.

A 'fridge jam' can have half as much sugar, and is much more runny - which is great for, say, grilled chicken or baked fish - lasts for about 3 weeks in the fridge. Any longer than that I dunno. It's eaten by my mob well before that.

The important thing is the jars and lids are sterilized. I have a dishwasher and a pressure cooker (Hissing Sid), but a 100 C oven for half an hour or more should do it.

I dry fruit too. In slices in a cool oven overnight. Not sure it's cost effective, but seems to last forever.