Our garden, like all gardens, is a work in progress. Gardens take time, planning, effort and there’s a lot to think about!
When we moved to Thornfield last year, we were lucky to inherit a garden which ticked all the boxes. It had been cared for and loved for over 100 years, although recently less so. There are areas for flowers, lawns, fruit trees – everything was once carefully thought out.
My main aim for the garden was to provide food and I want it to give us produce all year round, in one form or another. We inherited an extremely well established and crazy-unstoppable-grows-like-wildfire rhubarb, an amazing plum tree and a lovely apple tree (which over produces fruit at an alarming rate).
Truth be told, I don’t even like fruit. Apples are acceptable. But it’s lovely to grow, the children think eating ‘stuff from the garden’ is amazing and it looks pretty. Plus, I can make jam. And I like jam.
A few months after we moved in we added two cherry trees, two pear trees, two more plum trees and two more apples. These did try and produce fruit this year but they
were bloody rubbish not very successful, being so young. This apple tree managed one tiny apple. Next year however I think they’ll do just fine!
Last year our plum tree had an infestation of plum moth. It was disgusting. At least a quarter of the crop was infected, easily spotted by the fruit ripening very quickly and inside? A horrid little grub and loads of grub poop. However this year, I see no evidence! Hooray!
But what to do with all this fruit? My favourite way is to simply preserve it. Jams, pickles and chutneys – anything that will last and I can give as Christmas gifts because people love homemade gifts (well, I think they do. Basically it saves me a heap of cash too so I can buy shoes. And chocolate).
So my plans for the apples are – chutney, apple sauce, general eating, crumbles, pies. I love apple crumble, I think it’s one of my all time favourite puddings!
Plums – we have so many that we’re giving lots away, they ripen quickly and need to be used before they turn although soft fruit is fine for jam! So plum jam and chutney is the main use for these.
Rhubarb – the rhubarb has been ‘gifting’ us fruit since mid May and to be honest, I’m over rhubarb. It’s only really good until mid September and then we let it die and compost back down into the roots. So the race is on to make some jam! The smell of rhubarb jam is amazing, it make you want to stick your face in the pan (although you must not do that because you will end up in hospital with jam stuck to your face and third degree burns).
Tomorrow I’m going to pick plums, make some glitter plum jam and write up the recipe. Everything is better with glitter in it!