Thursday, 5 September 2019

Summer Fades to Autumn

Blackberries are currently available all over the place and did yo know that the sweetest fruit will be found on the South side of the bushes, due to the direction of the sun (in the Northern hemisphere). So this means it is, in theory, possible to navigate by taste!
Mulberries are also ripening nicely too.
It looks like it will be a very good year for Apples and Pears and people tell me that they are falling early in their gardens. Personally I like to wait until late September / October because they always get fatter and sweeter as time goes by. Walnuts will be ready around the same time as the Apples and Pears. Plums, in many different colours, are still available now.
However, the end of the school holidays has always meant to me that Hazelnuts are ripe and falling. I have been gathering pockets full during my lunch hour and transporting them home in my sandwich box, to store in a wicker basket for later use. I keep some at work as a snack and smash them open with whatever I find to hand, when I desire a nibble.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Plumb Line

Around this time of year, you might find subtle clues as to the location of highly forage-able fruit, such as Wild Plums, Mirabelles, Damsons, Cherry Plumbs & Greengages.
These tasty plumbs are best eaten straight off the tree. Although they come in many varieties and colours, you can tell they a ripe when they will fall lightly into your hand, just as you touch them.
Quite apart from the juicy joy of immediately eating these beauties, they can also be turned into pies, chutney, wine, puddings, jam and hundreds of other delightful things.
I tend to eat as I go along during my lunchtime wanderings, then I pick a bunch and take them home for the family to enjoy.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Ruby Red Race

At the allotment, everything is growing like crazy, including the weeds. I have been focusing on gathering our growing hoards of soft fruits. The Strawberries have provided us with a great crop. the Red Currants have also had a good year and I have deployed nets to thwart the birds.
Our Summer Raspberries are going great guns; the superbly tangy Loganberries (a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry), which I planted last year are ripe right now. The juicy, sweet Tayberries, a slightly different cross between a blackberry and a raspberry are just ripening too.

It's like a delicious red race and there is so much bounty and so little time that I tend to simply pick as much as I can of everything and lob it all in the same box (or my mouth). Those that make it home are made into family favourites Clafoutis or Summer Pudding!

Cherries in our garden are also ripening on the trees and it is always tempting to eat them early when they are red but it is better to wait until they turn black, as long as you can keep the avian hoards at bay.
This year, at the allotment, I decided to create a wild-flower garden patch by collecting seeds from poppies, cornflowers and other things that took my fancy last year. It has been a real success and is already looking absolutely lovely.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Strawberry Powered Bike Rides

This year's Elderflower Cordial has been Pasteurised and safely bottled, thanks to my daughters efforts.
At the time I was too busy, brewing up a double batch of Elderflower Champagne, it always seems to go too quickly.
We had a blissful half term holiday, camping and cycling in France. We did not realise initially, but it was the week before the D Day 75th anniversary, and there was a great deal of preparation going on. 
We spent most of our time on our bikes; the French do know how to make perfect cycle paths and networks. We would cycle from one town to another, along peaceful, nature laden pathways, without a single car in sight.
On one of our cycle trips, we spotted a large patch of Wild (Alpine) Strawberries, so we called a short rest break. We proceeded to feast our faces on these delicate little juicy fruits, before setting off again, fully rejuvenated.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Bluebells Blossom & Beltain

I once before wrote a post here called Blossom, Beltain and a beautiful game. That was quite a while ago and then Saint's were moving from the Championship into the Premiership. Since that time they have just about stayed up.
The Bluebells are looking magnificent this year and it's well worth taking a lovely, long walk through a local wood, simply for the pleasure of gazing on this wonder.
I have spotted early Elderflowers, waving their blousy, citrus blooms to herald the onset of Summer. Yes, that's right, the warm season will soon be upon us and I'm already wearing my shorts in preparation.
Plums are gradually fattening on the branches, Hawthorn is flowering in the hedgerows and everything is growing like crazy.
This year, as normal, I will be visiting Butser Ancient Hill Farm, with the children for Beltain. The celebration culminates with burning of their truly massive Wicker Man; the kids have been, quite literally, looking forward to it all year.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Spring Blows Hot and Cold

February was playing games. It was frosty, it was foggy and it has also been unseasonably sunny and warm.
We have been out in hats coats and gloves and we have been out in shorts and t-shirts.
Plum Blossom is filling the hedgerows with a white bloom, Blackthorn and Hawthorn will soon follow. 
Meanwhile Daffodils and Crocus are painting the road sides and gardens. Flashes of colour to fill in between the new growth of trees and bushes.
We have been on some lovely walks, including down Hurst Spit and around the Keyhaven nature reserve. 
When the sun has been hot and the tide good, we have been messing about on the river with boats from St. Deny's Boat Club.
March looks set to start with a good old fashioned storm. How it will turn out after that, only time will tell, but I hope the prevailing wind stays Southwesterly.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Signs of Spring

As I ride my bike to work, through the February weather every day, I notice changes, over time, in the roadside foliage. I think about what might be growing there in a few months and I make a mental note to check back on my prospects in the Summer.
Winter & Spring is always a lean time for foragers, especially those of the Urbane persuasion. So to entertain myself during the cold dark periods I like to test out my home made drinks and preserves to see how they are maturing. I was delighted with my Ransom Capers
My Elderberry Wine seems effective at staving off the colds, the Walnuts and Hazelnuts are great for baking or simply nibbling, the Cider and Apple juice is still lovely, and the Grape wine has matured into a perfectly tolerable rose. 
So, to keep you amused during the Winter/Spring months, Dear Reader, here is a fun quiz, to get you thinking about the hedgerows in your own area...
  1. Identify the tree & flower images on this page
  2. Work out if they will deliver anything edible. 
  3. Work out the time of year that you would harvest and produce.
  4. Plan what you could make from the available bounty.