Today will have been the last day gardening for this year for me. While there is still more do to (weeding, leaf sweeping etc), one of the tasks I had for the break was to prune the grapvine so that it puts its focus into growing in the directions that I want it to. It’s not a long job and was done in the space of about an hour as I only have a couple of vines to trim. I’ve adopted the same policy as last year and I’m hoping that it will have a similar result in terms of the amount of crop that is produced.
Now that the weather is slowly starting to turn its time to protect the plants that are more vulnerable to the cold. What has been slightly difficult has been that many plants are still flowering even though they need to be overwintered. However one set of plants that can go in at this point are the soft fruits in pots. So here, ready for the winter are the blueberries, white, red and black currants and the goji berry. Given most of these survived the extreme winter from the start of the year, they should be fine here and I’ll just keep them topped up water wise once a week if needed.
After letting the juice setting for a couple more days I have skimmed off the ‘gunk’ at the top and then boiled it all up in a large pan, skimming off more mess that comes to the top through the boiling process. Happy that it had been heated long enough I let it cool and then decanted it into some old wine bottles that I had put by. Quite surprisingly I had over three bottles of juice. What didn’t make enough for a bottle I tried and I have to say that I’m pleasantly suprised with result and it has the added bonus of being totally natural. It has a good flavour and only a little sharpness. In my view I’d happily drink it along side some of the grape juices you can buy. Hopefully I’ll have enough grapes to do the same next year.
Like with the harvest of the grapes because the weather is turning, so too have I harvested what is left of the tomatoes. There’s not a load left to pick, just over a kilogram, but I don’t want to waste any of them and as you can see, a good number of them are still green. The answer from most people who grow their own tomatoes is chutney. Green Tomato Chutney to be exact. I’ve never done this before so it could be a total disaster, but I’m willing to give it a try. It’s a two step process so hopefully I’ll get things finished off tomorrow. Right now I have this lot to slice and dice, some onions to add and for that to be salted and left overnight.
I have turned the grapes into juice and have 6 and 1/2 drinks containers of juice as a result. At the moment they still need to settle having been ‘whizzed’ through a juicer rather than crushed under foot. I simply don’t have time for that. I’ll leave them covered like this for a few days and then skim what is left at the top and decant the juice into some bottles. Given each of these are about a litre I wasn’t far off on my estimate of just over two bottles of grape juice.
I have spent the last few hours going though the four tubs of bunches of grapes and have picked out those that are ripe enough to consume. It’s amazing how four tubs gets reduced to one, but then packed in like this there is not as much air inbetween so this is not too bad an amount all in all. It’s also not like the rest are wasted as they have been put into the compost. From this lot I reckon I can get about two bottles of healthy grape juice, maybe a bit more if I’m lucky.
The weather has been so mild I have some late growing courgettes. The weather is starting to turn and today it was noticeable colder at both the start and the end of the day. It is probably too cold for these three (or even one of them) to grow large enough to be harvested. However I’m going to do my best to encourage it. I’m providing the plant with plenty of water at the roots. With the exception of the root vegetables which will stay in the ground a little longer, these are the last of this year’s crop and it would be nice to have a small harvest at this point to help provide for another meal or two.
Having done a load of crop harvesting, and with a few raised beds still to go, there was the need to create some space to freeze them for use later in the year. Potatoes take up quite a bit of space so I needed to use some of the crops from earlier in the year or even last year and then freeze them down. Which it might seem wrong, do this does free up quite a bit of space. 13 meals in one evening later and the meals are now in individual portions and in the freezer for later use. There are also more containers spare for future produce and more space in the freezer to add to the collection.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve been harvesting the potato raised beds the last few days and have finally finished the final raised bed. I had wondered how this year would do given the scarcity of rain over the summer and the limited watering that I did give the vegetable plot. Although it doesn’t look like much, there’s quite a few potatoes here and while it’s not a bumper crop, once blanched and frozen it will provide for a good number of meals through the year.
There was mixed weather while I was away, but with the relatively good wheather since I’ve been back, the garden grapes have been ripening up really well and I suspect that they are nearly there. There’s probably still a week or so to go before I feel they are ready to pick, and on one grapevine at least there is a good number of quality bunches that will be ready soon. Whether they will be edible or just for juicing I’m not totally sure, but its certainly the best harvest I’ve had.