Tag Archives: madeline sylvaner

Strawberry wine and beyond #gdnbloggers

From the last post, you will have seen that there was an experiment on the go with strawberries. It is time now to move the experiment on.

The youtube version can be seen here.

 

Having left the fruit to ferment for three days, the must  is suitably calm and ready to be transferred into the demi-john. It was a slow but steady process to strain the must through the scalded muslin, as I was doing it pint by by pint and there were five litres in the bucket. As you can see, this has nicely filled the glass demi-john. For now, I am using the demi john and will most likely be transferring and racking into five litre water bottles fitted with a grommet. I know that  second had glass demi -johns are available, and this is something that I might look into should the experiments work. The plan is to now leave the demi john alone, for about three months. I will need to keep any eye on the bubbles.

There is still a lot of fruit to use, and the next experiment is going to involve rhubarb and red currants. These are sat on the side defrosting.

Beyond this experiment, there is the small matter of the plot grapes.

There are three vines on the plot, red and white. These are boskoop glory and madeline sylvaner, which are dessert varieties. These can be used to make wine, the second hand wine making book suggests that acid is added to them, if these are the only ones available. I am not aware of any of the plot neighbours having vines, and there was a crop last year. So the plan-I think this has always been the plan really-is to wait til October when the now baby grapes have ripened to harvest and to try and make some wine out of them. Other than making vinegar, my other concerns in the volume grapes required. The recipes all require a significant amount of grapes, at least 13-14 lbs of fruit. Right now, the wine being produced is using 4 lbs of fruit, so that is a significant difference and depends on the vines producing enough. That, or the quantity will have to be scaled down.

At least now, there is a big enough fermenting bucket.

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.

The drama of the grapevines

The grapevines had keeled over. With the heavy clay being so dry with the lack of rain, the makeshift frame supporting them had fallen. Much panic ensued-I had only gone to harvest raspberries-to right the frame and wedge it back into the dirt.

However, it was necessary to call Dad in, and see if he could engineer something more robust. In fact one side, is still a bit lop sided and another review is required. The frame as it is, was built when the vines were planted, very new and wiry. However, they have seen grown, trailed and true to their name; vined.

There is an abundance of leaves, and a few bunches of grapes that the boskoop glory and madeline sylvaner have produced as you can see from the picture above. Not enough this year, for a homebrew experiment. The crop is rather sweet, and the varieties are in fact dessert grapes.

The journey of June: fruitful

Hello, everyone, happy Sunday; I do hope that you have had a nice weekend.

Firstly, an apology. For not having updated properly, the plot is kicking off now and that means watering and harvesting. I have made two batches of ice cream in the last two weeks, with the strawberries from the plot. I have even harvested some tonight. The ice cream was fabulous, the ice cream maker, a good investment and highly recommended. I have been harvesting strawberries daily, and I don’t particularly have a preference for them.

As you can see from the gallery, the plot is coming into it’s own. There is nothing to report yet, as far as squashes and things go. They are just forming large leaves as of yet. In the poly though, the tomatoes are getting leafier, taller, and sending out yellow flowers. I have had to stake them into sentry like positions to prevent them all falling over.

cream sausage tomatos
cream sausage tomatos

The stars for the moment, are the chillies.

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These are currently sat on a warm window sill. There are also a few more cayennes on the plant. Whilst walking through the poly tunnel with the watering can, I saw the rather chunky, lime green form of the hungarian hot wax. There are about five fruit, I shall leave them there for now.

Soft fruit is coming quick, with the strawberries especially. I have been watching the raspberries carefully. Especially as half canes don’t look to be doing an awful lot. These were canes planted last autumn, all thirty of them in the full season collection. There were an additional 10 yellow ones, The raspberries you see above, all three of them are the harvest of tonight. That yellow one, didn’t make it home, I ate it on the spot.

It was delicious. Get some. These are a variety called Fall Gold.I suspect they are a bit confused, as they are meant to be autumn ones.

I will continue to monitor the growth of the raspberries, to see if any more of them come to life. Also last year, I sank gooseberries and currants. The gooseberries have already yielded one small harvest, the next one, is most likely to be a pickle of some kind. The currants, are still babies, so there is not an awful lot expected.

But they do taste good. I swear, that the berries that I have collected were ready to burst. Beautifully red, they have given the strawberries a good run for their colour money. Not as tart as I would have expected, but a little full of seeds.

I had one black currant berry. May be next year, we can cordial or cassis. Yet to see if I have any white currants, if I can work out whether or not they are ripe. The two blueberry bushes are also laden with fruit, and again, ripeness check needed.

Last but not least, William Shakespeare 2000

william shakespeare 2000
william shakespeare 2000

Big, beautiful blooms, this rose bush sits in the middle of the plot. A sprawling mess, we like this sprawling mess, with green foliage and red blooms that burst in a matter of days in the shape of a fuzzy pom pom. This is the rose that I have been waiting for, as the other roses heralded the start of summer.

#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.

Heard it on the grape vine, honey honey

 

grapevines

There are three grapevines on the plot, and this is the first year that they have become leafy and sent out proper tendrils. They are still very young, and so therefore still establishing themselves. Not quite sure if we are likely to get any grapes this year, but we shall see. I can never remember if I have two red and one white. They are boskoop glory, and madeline sylvener.

Little and leafy: grapevines

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The three grapevines have started to take off somewhat, with a flurry of leaves. These are still quite young, less than four years old. This is probably the leafiest that these have ever been. These are boskoop Glory and Madeleine Sylvaner. One red and one white. The most useful for the British climate, apparently.

I think that traditionally grapes fruit in late September October. Whilst these are still quite small, not sure how much of a crop these are going to have.