Tag Archives: grapevines

Petal’s Preserve goes a bit…boozy #gdnbloggers

There have been a lot preserves made, in terms of jams, jellies and chutneys. I have also had a go at steeping fruit in alcohol to make liqueurs of a kind. This year, I have used fruit from the plot to test out my home brewing kit that was sat unloved for the best part of twelve months. Plus, we have a lot of courgettes, squashes and spinach flying around and this seemed a way of avoiding the gluts.

The recipe that I have used is simple enough-the Sister Sparrow fruit wine recipe-with fruit being placed into a fermenting bucket. Boiled sugar syrup is poured over the top, with yeast, nutrient and enzyme being added when the must is cool. This is left to ferment, before transferring and racking into an air-locked demi-john. Once clarified, the liquid can be re-racked. (This involves transferring from one vessel to another using a siphon and the best quality gravity that you can obtain. It is a two person job, and I tend to borrow a willing parent.) This involves drawing off the  liquid and avoiding the sediment of yeast et cetra at the bottom.

It all started with strawberries, there were quite a lot of them. This first batch was something of a learning experience, having not had a big enough bucket. I may have got a little enthusiastic with this one, and rushed the process. The wine is now bottled-prematurely,  I think-could have done with sitting for a bit and being racked again. It is however, a rather pretty pink, and tastes okay! I’ve wrapped it in brown paper, so that it doesn’t lose the pink colour.

So that was the starting point, and I have to say I was bit enthused as to what I might do next.

Today, I have some time working with two would be wines. The first, was summer wine. The second was apple wine. The summer wine involved rhubarb, left over strawberries as well a hotch pot of red, black and white currants. This was transferred into a demi-john, and will be left to clarify. This is the second rhubarb wine; a previous version involves the combination of Rhubarb and redcurrant, minus the strawberries. I have to admit, that when it is was in the Demi-John, it looked a lot like I had blitzed a plastic ‘My Little Pony’. (Please don’t do this, you do not wish to be in trouble; that is a figurative statement). That is two. Three, three involves blackberries. As a teenager, I read ‘Blackberry wine’ by Joanne Harris, so this was actually the thought in my head. If wine could talk! The batch made actually involves more than blackberries, there are plums and even more currants in there. The currants were rather rocking it this year! At some point, I will try and make some pure blackberry wine, rather than have additional ingredients.

Apple wine is a little different compared to my previous home brew experiments. I had quite a bit of apples stashed in the freezer as well as some freshly harvested ones. These were cored, peeled and sliced, combined and stewed down to a puree of a sort. Once this has cooled, the magic ingredients will  be added so that it can all ferment for a bit.

Think that actually brings the tally up to five different batches. With blackberry wine being considered, the aim of these is to practice. On the plot, there are three grapevines. These are boskoop glory and Madeline Sylvaner. Whilst these are dessert varieties, I believe these can be used to make home made wine. This is basically why I have grape vines!  Many of the experiments need to stay stashed for a while, they will need to mature and build their flavour. As nice as the strawberry wine was to sample, it will be cloistered away for a while.

Weathering the strangeness

June has arrived, and it has been rather strange in it’s infancy. The weather hasn’t exactly been the best, confused and entirely erratic. We have had rather nice windows, punctuated by cold and chilly days reminiscent of early autumn.

With that, I have been looking at the tomatoes and squashes that were transplanted prior to the end of May bank holiday. (I was adventuring, and more on that later) Ordinarily, squashes grow like triffids; they are rapid, hungry and likely to take over the patch of ground into which they have been sunk. Looking at them though, they do rather look a little developmentally delayed. Perhaps it is early, perhaps I am overestimating them; but they should have started to get a wiggle on. I suspect that the inclement and inconsistent weather has some what confused them.

There are factions of the plot that are doing well, that are resisting the variance in the weather. Waking up from a slumber, the grapevines have started to send out leaves and bulk up on their frame. Small clusters of flowers and fruit have been spotted, and indicates that the vines are so far quite happy. Even the currant bushes are starting to flower and flourish, and look as though they have been strung with green pearls.

June, July and August generally involve garlic being harvested. In spite of the horrid weather, the Marshalls Heritage seed garlic appears to be romping away. It is a little wind burned, which given the windy nature of the site is not all that unusual. The foliage is still lush, green and is now nearly a metre high; it looks rather robust. It may be some time yet before the foliage starts to die back and become raffia like.

 

Girding up the Grapevines

Oh, it was cold down the plot today. The sun hung around this morning, and then clocked off at lunch time. There was however a job to do today.

The youtube version can be found here.

An allotment neighbour had kindly donated some random pieces of wood that she wanted to be rid of. So in the spirit of recycling, I have used it to sort out the grapevines. The three grapevines, boskoop glory and madeline Sylvaner, were in danger of falling over.I have spent months listening to my mum telling me to sort them out. Today, armed with a pair of pliers, heavy duty wire and a wooden mallet, I got around to it. There was only one plan. To stop the vines from keeling over.

In the cold.

The donated bits of wood were sunk into the clay with the mallet, and positioned next to the already existing cane fretwork. This was only ever a temporary measure, but it has worked really well. So rather than take the framework away, I am just cobbling things onto the framework to make it work better. The canes are robust enough, when the vines are skeletal and not very leafy. However, when the foliage comes through, the vines become top heavy. A problem, when the canes aren’t robust enough, and start to keel over in a brisk wind. I have been to the plot a few times after the gales have whipped around the plot, and prayed that the vines hadn’t been pulled up and over.

There was a lot of cobbling with the grapevines. Using curtain hooks, heavy duty green gardening wire had been stretched across the wooden posts and now works around the canes. Vines have snaked around the canes already, and quite successfully as they’ve become established; another reason why I am loath to remove the canes. I am hoping that the vines will continue to trellis around the wires and that these will offer a little bit more robust support.

 

 

December on the Plot

Have finally taken a wander down to the plot, having spent a little time away from the plot with real life.  There wasn’t a particular task in mind, but I did take my secateurs with me as I remembered that the roses probably needed pruning.  I also wanted to have a look at any possible damage that the recent storms may have done to the plot. I was worrying about the grapevines as they were already in something of a bad shape. Turns out there wasn’t too much damage, the plot is soggy more than anything.

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The Garlic Farm Garlic is coming on in leaps and bounds. Unlike previous years where I have had numerous varieties of garlic; this year has a much smaller range. The garlic farm garlic is in raised beds and is starting to come through. I have in the past, worried about the garlic not doing very much. I have learned that it is important to just be patient and let the garlic do what it has to. The seed garlic has been pretty much left to it’s own devices, and beyond planting, I have worried very little about it.

I had taken my gloves and sacaeuters for the roses and autumnal raspberries. I didn’t get as far as the raspberries, I will have to look at those after Christmas. What I did do, was wander around the roses and prune what I could. However, some of the roses are still blooming. As you can see, William Shakespeare 200o has a handful of blooms that will hopefully unfurl in the coming days. I am somewhat surprised really to see the roses blooming still.

There are three roses bushes on the plot, that are something out of Grimm’s fairy tales. Sprawling, prickly bushes, that I planted when they were nothing by twigs some years ago. They weren’t expensive, each one was exactly £1 from a poundshop, funnily enough. These are rose bushes that have grown like triffids compared to the rather delicate tea roses. They are also rather vicious, if you look at the stem of one of the roses.

I didn’t always have three. To start of with, I had two. I must have pruned one, and left a stem. It founded itself wedged into the clay, and rooted. So today, I had a thought. A scientific question, really. If I pruned off the two bushes, and kept some of the cuttings, might I end up with bonus bushes. This may or may not work. I had pruned the stems at an angle, and a lot of the material is actually budding. So I have wedged a few cuttings into the clay. Clay that was otherwise bare and where a rose bush might not be a bad idea. I have no idea what these roses are, other than being being, and from Holland. I do remember the labels being in dutch. (I might have to learn a little, just to understand the plant talk)

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The grapevines have been looking rather sorry for a long time. I have been battling to support them all the way through the summer, and anticipated that they might have keeled over entirely with the stormy weather that we recently experienced. However, they don’t look too bad. The windy weather has stripped them of their foliage, but this was probably causing them to bank over anyway. The next task for these will most likely to be create a more robust frame for them to clamber over next year. Though I am not too sure whether I am supposed to prune them again. I did prune them last year, and kept two main branches for each vine. That did appear to help the growth of leaves and the amount of fruit that cropped.

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Heritage seed garlic from Marshalls is starting to push through the clay. You’ll have to look very closely, but the shoots are just about visible. In comparison to the seed garlic in the raised bed, this is in open ground. I was worried that it might have been eaten up by the soil as we have had quite bit of rain. However it does appear to have been a little more resilient than I had thought. Rather looking forward to seeing how this goes.

#NaBloPoMo: Growing Grapevines on the Garden

Grapevines on the plot
Grapevines on the plot: Boskoop Glory and Madeline Sylvener

 

There are two varieties of grapevine currently being cultivated on the plot. These are Boskoop Glory, a red grape and Madeline Sylvener, which is a white grape. Both are meant to be quite suitable for the British Climate. There definitely parts of the British Isles that can grow grapes, so why not the middle of land locked England. These are desert grapes, I think, so we shall see if they do produce a vast quantity of fruit, and whether anything can be made out of them. Other than eating them, it might be nice to brew something.

There is a fourth, much older grapevine in Dad’s garden. The vines produce mammoth crop in the south facing garden, and we do nothing with him. Those grapes are red, and ripen in October. They don’t particularly taste very nice though, and that is the pit fall. Hoping that next year, they can be converted into something useful. No idea what that variety is though, and I did one year squash the lot to make a litre of Cordial. Yep, a whole litre. I was there squashing for a long time.

Across the cane trellis, there are thre vines growing up and out. These vines are still quite young, have been in the ground less than five years so are very much in there infancy. It can take up to twenty years for them reach their ful potential.

With their tendrils and creepers growing without restraint, the vines are starting to look a bit wndburned. Some of the leaves are  alittle scorched. Overnight we have a our first frost, so I do wonder if the vines will look a little different today. They might also need a bit of a feed. Might dress the base with both chicken poop pellets and some fish, bone, blood stuff. I did that in the summer, and it didn’t appear to do any harm.

I do need to investigate how to prune the vines and when. That cane trellis is at the moment, barely five foot hight. This may need to be increased in time, with another trellis and some more canes to support the lower levels. Previously, I have spotted a very small bunch of graps. It was still there, when I looked on Tuesday. Not sure if it is likely to get any larger, and with the over night frost, may well have died a death.

Infrastructure

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Have planted enough onions, I think, to sink a small ship. I won’t be sowing any more. I forget now, the different varieties. But there are brown, white, red and white onions covering a good eighty per cent of the plot. This, is going to make things difficult later on, I think as I plant to sow dwarf French beans too. The reasoning was to sow DFB’s where ever there was any spare space. As you may have already read, the autumn and winter was wall to wall rain. This more or less killed all of the overwintering onions and shallots. Some of the garlic, was more hardier than expected and it has taken off beautifully. On observation, whilst it is nice to see, it does appear to be on the smaller, thinner side. This could be, the elements or the variety, it is difficult to categorically identify cause and effect. It did make me happy though! To see the garlic standing there proudly on sentry duty. With a long way to June, July and August, the crop has plenty of time to fatten up. Besides, looking at the top, means nothing as to what is happening down below.

With the one bed that is chocca full of allieums, to see the green foliage is heartening. In the dark dankness of the autumn and winter, there was great difficulty in seeing the woods for the trees when everything seemed to be decimated. One could very well end up with a field of onions. It worked for Chicago….

There must be hundreds and hundreds of onions on the plot. Might keep mama h busy for a while. Have yet to think about how to store them, or how to dry them. Answers on post card please.

Grapevines. Two very brown and sticky grapevines, planted in the depths of autumn. One of which is still standing. Neither, seems to have rooted. Very disappointed, these were supposed to grow and bisect the plot. 

Broadbeans, have died a death. Those gangly, green creatures from last week; have become blackened beings. Those that I could see, that is. They have disappeared completely. I did think that they were too good to be true. I did direct sow a few last week. But I guess I will be sowing some more indoors. Very very disappointing since they were held back for such a long time. I’m not sure as to whether these will be in paper pots or traditional modules. Just very disheartening really. One could scream and shout.

Runner beans are thought of as happy saviour. This morning, I have been trying to think of the infrastructure as the title of the blog suggests. A couple of wig wams have been put up. And several rows of bamboo cane, to which pea and bean netting will be slung. It’s not very clear in the picture, imagine walls of beans. That will mean lots of beans being sown, again a matter of luck. You do realise that I won’t actually be able to reach the top of the canes to hanf the netting. May need adult supervision and aid for that one. Won’t be expensive netting either, just the cheap quidland variety. If they don’t all fall down in the wind.

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Herbs: Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic Chives, Golden and common sage, oregano, Russian and French tarragon  plus another one that isn’t labelled. This have been sat in the four tier blowaway for months-which is why the sage and chives look a bit worse for wear-and I would like to put them out onto the plot at some stage. Rather than sink them into open ground, they may take up space in the raised beds. Whilst it is still very early, squashes will be carefully considered. As to which ones, and where. Theoretically, one or two could be planted per bed. With three beds containing potatoes, that leaves nine beds in which a couple could take up residence. There are quite a few varieties in the seed stasher. To this day, Bruno the Ghost rider and Claude the courgette are very flukey, and most likely beginners luck!

Posh roses seem to be doing okay. Growing leaves and buds. The poundland ones, look exceptionally sorry for themselves and are a fraction of the size of the posh roses. So the jury really is still out on them. 

I am fighting a constant war with the raised beds, in terms of making sure there is material in them. There are two builders bags that contain leaf mold, and this will be used to add to the some of the beds. Then, hopefully, as I’ve been saying for months;  a layer of compost will be put onto the top. Today, I had half a lie in so didn’t muster of up the gusto to get it. Plus, as I look out the window; precipitation has arrived. As is expected with April. With having workable raised beds, it will feel as though there is progress and after a long time. Not sure that root veg will like it in there; what with the layers of leaf mold, garden waste and compost; can just imagine wonky carrots. Which aren’t a problem, per se! Would love to sow lots and lots of carrots. Not going to happen with the open ground, the clay is not best when a fine tilth is required. There is a bag of sand on hand, if I fancy digging that in somewhere.

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit