Saturday, 23 July 2016

Plentiful Plums to Pick

I was intending to organise a Plum Picknik, but it seems that life has conspired against me and, sadly, I will now not have enough time.
However, it is an easy place to locate and there are always a massive amount of multi coloured plums available for picking out of the hedgerows or collecting off the grass.
You can walk or cycle here or even drive and park your car in the War Memorial car park (almost opposite the Cricketers pub on Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh). 
The plums can be found all along the hedgerows on the left hand side adjacent to the cricket field and bordering Chestnut Avenue. Picking on the field side is obviously safer and more pleasant than on the road side.

There are loads and loads of them - you can basically fill your boots, as they say. They can be eaten straight off the trees or saved to be turned into jam, pies, chutney, wine or any number of other delightfully delicious seasonal things. So, I encourage everyone to get on down there and pick your plums while the sun shines!
Everyone's favourite foragable, beautiful Blackberries are also ripening now too.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Foraging Book New Kindle Version

We picked a massive amount of delicious Raspberries, Redcurrants, Blackcurrants and Tayberries from our allotment. The rustic fruit-cage doing its level best to prevent the birds snaffling our soft fruit.
We made Raspberry milkshakes and I also predict a seasonal super fruit favourite, Summer Pudding.
Meanwhile, on the foraging front, Cherries are ripening on the trees and the early trees are already fit for picking. Plums are getting very close too and we will arrange a Plum Picknik very soon, so keep a keen eye on this blog.
We are also delighted to announce that our lovely book, the Urbane Forager: Fruit and Nuts for Free, is now also available on Kindle at the very favourable price of just £4.99.
The more traditional paperback version is still available from all good bookstores (probably some bad ones too), as well as all the normal online outlets.
I also have a couple of spiral bound and laminated field-guide versions, please contact me personally if you would prefer one of these.
This lovely book is packed full of beautiful photographs, seasonal information, recipes, identification sheets, and good advice on how to find, harvest and prepare fresh, free, fruit and nuts. Order your copy now and get ready for the first flush of fresh free fruit of the year!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Allotment Cardboard & Seedling Guards

Fed up with the endless futility of hacking back the weeds that grow over our allotment in the spring, I decided to try using corrugated cardboard as a biodegradable suppressant. 
Where I work we get large 2m x 3m sheets, which ordinarily just end up in the recycling bins. I covered the cultivated areas at the end of the season last year and weighted them down with bits of timber.
After a Winter and Spring of storms my initial efforts were beginning to look a bit tatty and shredded, but no weeds had grown. So, I laid down a second  layer in April to keep the weeds at bay and hold all the old bits in place. 
This system seems to work really well, nothing had grown beneath the cardboard and it also adds a layer of insulation, which helps to warm up the land. New plants and seedlings can be individually planted directly through the cardboard.
My other recycling initiative employed old pallets, which I had dismantled and cut to size during the Winter. Then with the help of some enthusiastic child labour, the timber was fashioned into frames and then covered in netting to protect young seedlings from birds, mice and cats. 
In the case of our garden based raised beds, these guards can even deflect stray footballs!  On the allotment plot, once the frames are deployed, they also help hold the cardboard in place, and I figure they can be turned upside-down during the Winter months to make them even more effective at this job.
Once the crops at the allotment are pressing against the netting, the plants are tough enough for us to remove the guards and place them over our next new batch of seedlings. This system seems to be working very well so far.