Straw-mendous Strawberry Jam


If I was to pick just one jam to take away to a desert island (or should that be dessert island!), it would be strawberry. I adore it. It peps up my porridge in winter, the jewel on the crown of a cream tea, essential for a Victoria sponge and who would say no to simple strawberry jam sandwich? And whats more its dead easy to make, virtually makes itself. The varieties we have in our strawberry patch are a mix of ‘Cambridge Favourite’, ‘Florence’ and an everbearer ‘Albion’. ‘Florence’ are my favourites. They are a lovely big mid-season strawberry, dark red all the way through. The plant is large and bushy and hold their fruits high but also disguising them from foe.
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Bountiful. A review of the season (so far…)

Forgive me, I’ve hardly blogged about the plot this summer. Recent weather aside (it’s a wet and windy Saturday afternoon as I write this), it’s a been a glorious summer and to be honest with you, we’ve just been so busy enjoying it down 18a. After a unseasonable cool start to the season full of worry whether we would ever get any kind of crop going, we approach the end of the growing season with a bumper crop of unexpected allotment loveliness. After a rather crappy first 6 months of 2013 for myself personally, the allotment and the abundance of nature there have helped me overcome my blues and banish my little rain clouds. So what’s been going on down 18a? Well let’s see…
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The Blackberry Bonanza! – A glut of Blackberries

Oh my days we’ve had a lot of blackberries this year! One of the best things about our plot is the fabulous thornless Blackberries we inherited when we took the plot over. I don’t know what variety they are, though plot neighbours guess at ‘black satin’ or ‘black lace’ (what the 80s pop group?). But I’ve found little reference to either commercially. Whatever their name they are fruit superstars at 18a! They fruit their little socks off from mid-late July right through to the frosts. And boy are these beauties prolific! With 4 plants and around 13 canes between them they keep us occupied picking, eating, freezing and jamming for weeks. Continue reading “The Blackberry Bonanza! – A glut of Blackberries”

My Blue Blue Blueberries. – Blueberry & Lavender Jam

“It’s sad and it’s cold at the bottom of the sea but at least I’ve got my blueberries with me.” – Blueberry Boat by The Fiery Furnaces.

Well it finally happened. The inventible blight has struck at the plot. With weeks of wet and warm weather the tomatoes have finally succumbed to the dreaded blight. As we do not spray, trying to be as organic as possible, blight unfortunately is an inevitable fate for our doomed outdoor tomatoes.The 2012 growing season so far certainly hasn’t been a contender for the best season ever, however not everything has been moping down at 18a. Non non, the blueberries and black currants in particular have been quietly fruiting modestly in the soft fruit bed. I might even go as far to say their the best blueberries we’ve ever grown. Continue reading “My Blue Blue Blueberries. – Blueberry & Lavender Jam”

Raspberry & Rose Water Cupcakes

Raspberry and rose-water is a flavour combination I’ve been a little obsessed with lately. It’s not that far-fetched to see how they work well together seeing as they belong to the same botanical family, Rosaceae with the raspberry coming from the Rubus genus. That’s right, the raspberry is related to the rose. Theres something about the floral notes of the rose-water that brings out the raspberries sweetness. Though the raspberries at the allotment are only just beginning to come into flower and the rose petals are still a thorny while away, this recipe has got me daydreaming for mid-summer and afternoon tea in some fantasy conservatory, some place in the countryside. Forget the old ladies talc scent of rose, get the balance right and enjoy the gentle floral sweetness.
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I like a nice cup of coffee in the morning… I like a nice cup of coffee for my allotment.

Well actually I don’t. In fact I rather dislike coffee. The smell, the taste you can keep it to yourself thank you very much! I’m a tea girl through-and-through. However coffee in it’s used ground form is magic for the allotment.

I had been reading a lot lately about the benefits of used coffee grounds in the garden. There’s always pins of articles about its usefulness on Pinterest. In particular I wanted the used coffee grounds to use as mulch/feed for my blueberries. Though most of the acidic nature of the coffee is removed in the boiling all the goodie nutrients remain. According to my sources the grounds maintain a pH of an average of 6.9 and a carbon-nitrate ratio of 20-to-1.

I started out collecting used grounds from the coffee addicts at work in a little tub. Bringing home around 100g a week, which when spread out in the soil of the allotment, well it just looked pretty pathetic! I was going to need a whole lotta more coffee! But where from? I remembered reading in Alys Fowlers article some place about asking Coffee shops if you may take their grounds off their hands for them. But it wasn’t something I wanted to find myself committed to on a regular basis. I needed a supply I could tap that I could access when I wanted, anonymously and freely. Continue reading “I like a nice cup of coffee in the morning… I like a nice cup of coffee for my allotment.”