Friday, 17 June 2016

Pest Control and Border Patrol

We have finally worked out what has been attacking our Cherry tree. The leaves were getting decimated in some areas and the young fruit was suffering too. I thought initially that it was pigeons or other avian pests. We initially installed a make-shift bird scarer but closer inspection revealed that the culprit was in fact SNAILS!
The pesky molluscs had climbed up the tiny tree trunk and slithered out along the bendy branches to feast on the fresh foliage and even the precious immature fruit. We found over 25 on our first security sweep and the tree is only about 2m high. We plucked them all off and threw them as far away as we were able. I then painted a ring of fruit tree grease around the trunk as a deterrent to further incursion. The children are now mounting a daily fruit based border patrol- and removing any further slimy insurgents (their reward will be obvious, they both love cherries).
In further pest control news, I have also had to take defensive action in our allotment rustic fruit cage. The roof is not totally bird proof, being made of 10mm wide mesh and my red-current bush, which is full of quickly ripening fruit was being ravaged (definitely birds this time). I have now covered the upper branches with finer netting and hope to harvest the currents soon.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Family Eat Ancient Apples!

In our latest shocking news we have finally finished using the Apples that we picked last SeptemberThis nine month old fruit was turned into apple-sauce to accompany a splendid roast dinner.
This may come as a surprise to people who are used to buying apples with a sell-by date stamped on the cellophane wrappers, but some types of freshly picked Apples can keep for several months, given the right conditions.
We picked over 200 KGs last year, for free, from urban trees around our city and then stored them in our lovely old wooden apple-cupboard that lives in my garden shed.
The bucket-loads of apples that would not fit into the store were crushed, pressed and Pasteurised, turning them into into several gallons of delicious juice which, I'm pleased to report, we are still glugging down now and couple of gallons of golden cider, which have already been heartily consumed.
However, you do not need a lovely wooden apple cupboard to make apple keep for a long time. My mum still keeps hers in greengrocers boxes wrapped up in old newspaper and, to be honest, this method works just as well and actually makes it easier to remove any bad apples to the compost heap.

Monday, 6 June 2016

An Elderflower Adventure

We had just returned from a trekking/camping holiday during half term (more on that expedition later) and the kids had been spotting Elderflowers.
They decided it was time to make some sweet, delicious, thirst quenching Elderflower Cordial. However, I was just thinking about making Elderflower Champagne.
Elderflowers are virtually everywhere in the parks and streets at the moment, so we thought it might be fun to go by boat, just for the hell of it.
At St. Deny's Sailing and Rowing Club on the river Itchen, we saw that a blackbird had nested in the lower eves of the clubhouse and was feeding two tiny fledglings.
We soon had life-jackets fitted and launched Tern, our favourite family sized rowing boat and even though both children can row, I was given the job of pulling on the oars.
We saw our first Elder straight away, just yards from the pontoon and we were soon filling our bag with fresh citrusy Elderflower heads.
Further upstream we found other bushes hanging over the river, or in amongst the reeds and I even set the kids ashore to harvest from one particularly busy tree they spotted. As I predicted, with two pickers and one rower we had soon gathered more than enough.
On the way home we bought 5 lemons and one Kilo of sugar, which was enough ingredients to make 3 litres of Elderflower Cordial and 6 litres of Elderflower Champagne.

All the rest was done by the kids in the kitchen and it didn't half look a mess when they had finished but, to be fair, they did tidy up when I explained that I would ferment the lot if they didn't get cleaning.