Sunday, 8 January 2017

Planning the coming year’s harvest including freebies

I love freebies.  I've just been given these seeds from my lovely Dad who has given up his allotment and asked if he can help out on mine through the year. 
I have taken delivery of some fruit trees.  Sadly, I had to pay for these :).  There’s a pear, fig tree, almond and apricot.  At the moment they are all in temporary containers in the greenhouse.  Their names from the website are:
Large Fig Tree 'Brown Turkey' 1ft Tall in a 2LPot.Ready to Fruit, Sweet Taste
Apricot Bergeron Tree 4-5ft Tall, Self-fertile Sweet & Tasty Orange Flesh
Conference Pear Tree 4-5ft Tall, Self-Fertile & Heavy Cropper, Ready to Fruit
Large 4-5ft Sweet Almond Tree 'Robijn',Ready To Fruit, Nice Pink Flowers.
Thanks for the website recommendation, Dawn.
I don’t know where they will stay permanently, but they’re all small enough to be in pots for now.
 Last year we had tonnes of currants (black, red and white) and we used them all.  Cordial is on the menu this year, but I need to find out how to store it long term, I have in my head that it doesn’t freeze but I don’t know if that’s true.  Elderflower was my son’s favourite and a beautiful taste of spring in a glass, with the promises of the great things to come.
This is the fruit cage we have made that in currently being changed into temporary chicken housing.  It'll do a great job over the soft fruit come summer.

I must get round to pruning the raspberries but I really don’t know if they are summer or autumn fruiting as they fruited the whole way through!  So I am worried about killing them off or stunting their harvest. Same for the currants for their pruning.
We have cut the asparagus ferns down and top dressed with horse muck that’s been rotting away.  Asparagus was one, maybe the, first foods we harvested in 2016.  I look forward to that.  It took me by surprise last year with the amount we could harvest.  I may sell some this year if there’s too much for us.  I’ve also found some nice recipes so we don’t tire of it.
I shall soon be forcing some rhubarb too.  Just one plant I think.  Rhubarb is one of my favourites.
I started preparing for sowing this weekend.  Maybe too early I know, but that’s part of the experiment.  I’ll soon start the onions, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, chillis, broad beans, salad leaves, spinach and cauliflowers.  I am only doing a few of each (she says).  Also I am going to get my strawberry plants that I took from runners under cover to see what happens.  This is it, we’re off on the 2017 road to self-sufficiency!
A harvest of a different kind now... the chicks we hatched early December have been moved outside into the big barn.
First time they have seen big chickens!
They have heat there still but plenty more space now as they'd outgrown the brooder. I am not sure what will go in the brooder next. Steven made a heat lamp from a mixing bowl, heat lamp bulb and some mesh (to stop them burning themselves on it).  I was super impressed and a fraction of the cost were we to have bought it in the shop.
  
 
It was a very foggy day all day today with the temperatures barely getting above freezing.  The greenhouse door was frozen closed with the frost that developed overnight.  We use the tap in there for the water for the horses.  It soon thawed out.  This was taken when I was riding out this morning.  It was lovely.

12 comments:

  1. You may need to 'help' the pollination on the apricot ,if insects are in short supply, at flowering time. Also make sure you thin the crop if too many set, if you want decent size fruit. Ours are 4 years old now and we get a very large crop.

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  2. We had 2 apricot trees on the smallholding and got fruit 3 out of 8 years ( from the time first planted) it all depends on temps when the flowers were out. Best year was 40lb of fruit!
    Fig needs sun and wet! - we had one tree and got a few most years but they were often very late so never grew big enough before the weather turned cold.
    Writing this makes me miss our smallholding so I shall look forward to hearing about how you get on

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    1. I look forward to seeing what it harvests. Re the figs, it says to not allow it to dry out so I think that one will be best in the ground, maybe on the front as it is south facing. Thank you.
      How lovely that you will look forward to hearing about ours and I hope you have plenty of advice to offer along the way to newbies like me - it is HUGELY appreciated :)

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  3. We pruned our raspberries last month, like you I'm not sure what they are summer or autumn. I would like to move them in the spring to a fruit bed I've started.

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    1. I guess either way of pruning won't kill them?

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  4. Hi Tracy. To store your cordials for longer without storing them in the fridge you hot water process the in total for about half an hour. I use a baby steriliser and use the small hex bottles which are ideal for the steriliser or you can use a saucepan and prepare by popping a towel in the bottom of the pan popping your bottles in exactly as you would for bottling fruit bring to boil for half an hourbthen switch off. The lids should go hard like they do when you bottle fruit. If you look on my blog there is an article or two on using the baby steriliser as well. Let go cold naturally. It wotks by taking the air out of the bottles. If you have larger bottles but unable to cover the bottles make sure the water goes up to the neck and then process. You will then be able to keep on the shelf in the pantry for at least a year. I do all my cordials this way. Hope this helps but if you want anymore information let me know. With regard to the fruit trees how long can you keep them in pots for as i would dearly love some but as i do not intend staying here long term dont want to get ones that will have to plant. Take care pattypan x

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    1. Lovely to hear from you - I hope you're on the road to a full recovery still? I haven't seen a New Year post from you since the NYE one so I will pop over to see if you have managed one.
      Our fruit trees are really small so as long as they don't dry out and are kept from frost, ours could stay in the pots for a year or two - on the website it suggests some of them are able to be stored in pots long term for the smaller varieties. I think that is great.
      Re the bottling - I will remember this as I didn't know you could do it for cordial. I use the swing top kilner type bottles (for liquid, not the preserving ones) so would I be able to do the same for them? Thanks xx

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    2. Hi Tracy exactly same process with the Kilner bottles although in a pan on top of cooker for larger nottles. You can do smaller bottles on top of cooker too. I tend to completely submerge them if i can though as it helps give a better seal. As with all preserves though if the contents of a bottle dont look right ie have started fermenting or grow mould do not use and throw the contents common sense rules apply for whatever reason sometimes the bottles do not seal correctly. As i say any queries yell. Am slowly getting there having to rest a lot which am not used to but foot althiugh still painful looks nice and neat. Hopefully now will be able to get socks that fit. Keep warm pattypan x

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  5. My raspberries are the same, they are mixed so I don't know which is which. I cut them back after fruiting last summer, so I could move my strawberries, so it's a case of wait and see what grows. I can't wait to plant the few seeds I have room for.

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    1. I guess I should think, what's the worst that could happen, but then I keep thinking what a great year we had last year for them and don't want to miss out !

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