Friday, 21 January 2011

The sun shone in my corner of north Essex this afternoon and we popped up the allotment.
I have had a busy week at work and needed some time outside not thinking about anything apart from weeds and compost! It was so lovely there, quiet and peaceful, except for the geese!
We pottered around doing a little weeding and a little digging, planted the new Gooseberry bush that came last month when there was a foot of snow on the ground. It is a red dessert gooseberry and I am hoping to train it in a fan shape on the fence (hmmmm....?)

So here are some photos of my plot in January. Three beds have now been dug over and manured and are ready for planting. I will give it a bit and then cover them with fleece to start to warm up. Two are ready for potatoes, the other for runner beans, I thought I might try to grow a quick crop of lettuce or something in this bed as the beans won't go out until the end of May.
I have a bit of a pong about me, what my mother would describe as "Guide Camp", yes I lit a fire and burnt the sunflower stalks that were not going to compost down in a million years, also some weeds that I didn't want to put on the compost heap. This doesn't seem to kill the seeds and they all grow again.

Here he is with "this is what I got for Christmas"

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Making Marmalade

I have tried to make marmalade for the past two years and it has been no good, the first year it would not set so I threw it out, last year I boiled it so much that it turned to a thick sticky syrup that tasted horrible so I threw that out. One last go and if that doesn't work I will never try again. So when I popped to the market on Saturday morning, as I usually do and they had "Marmalade Oranges" 3lb for £1.50 quite a bargain I thought. I will have another go, so armed with my oranges, 4 lemons for £1 and two bags of sugar for 75p ( much cheaper than Tesco -check it out), I had a go. I had been looking at "The Cottage Smallholders" blog and Fiona's Easy Seville marmalade and decided to try her recipe.
find it here
First I had to simmer the oranges and lemons for 3 hours and leave over night, then cut in half and scoop the flesh into one pint of the simmering liquid and boil this up. While this was happening cut the peel into strips. Then strain the pulp through a cloth and add to the simmering liquid and make up to 4 pints. Add the peel and sugar and bring to boil.
Here it is starting to boil, it needs to really bubble up and boil for 15 minutes. I tested it on a saucer that had been in the freezer.
I save up my jars and re use them all the time, a good scrub and then pop them in the oven . Then put the hot marmalade in the hot jars and cover with a waxed disc.
The next day I gave the jars a wipe around the edge to get any stray stickiness off and wrote the labels.
AND this is the perfect jar, the peel is evenly spread (not like some of the other jars where it floated to the top) and this this is the jar that I will enter into the Horticultural Society Spring show. I have put it away in a safe place. Top of the cupboard with plates in it ( just to remind myself when I can't find it in April!!!)
Oh yes it tastes really nice - orangy is the word I would use to describe it!

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Is it a hot water bottle cover? No its a cover for Baby. Baby? Baby what?
Alice's new baby laptop. "So useful, you can just pop it in your handbag and carry it around anywhere"!!!
Baby needed a nice soft cover to protect it. So I knitted this. Multi coloured pink, red and orange popcorn yarn knitted together with a 100% wool in varigated pink. Finished with a flap and button.

This will protect Baby from all dangers of the handbag except for those naughty leaky bottles of water!

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Two birthdays in a week! Two cakes in a week! So we just get Christmas and New Year over, not even had 12th night when it is Alice's birthday. Here she is on her 22nd birthday with a Blackforest Gataux.
And just a few days later the birthday boy turns 19! With just an ordinary (?) chocolate cake with white chocolate buttons, icing made from melted chocolate and yogurt and 19 candles. 19 Candles - how can he be that old already?

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


At last I have thought of an aim for this year - to grow winter vegetables. I tried this year and failed. Last year I managed to grow some purple sprouting broccoli but it wasn't ready until April. I want greens in December and January.
I have been looking through the seed catalogues and done a stock take of the seeds that I have and am nearly ready to put in my orders. I have studied my books, read about manuring in the autumn, lime in the spring, not digging the ground over, stomping it down, netting, staking - so it should be easy to grow enough green veg to see us through the winter and eat our own sprouts
Christmas dinner - easy!! Any more tips?
This is my little "green house" or plastic tent filled with seedlings last