moderately housebound

The weather yesterday was absolutely the worst for me: heavy showers interspersed with bright sunshine! Every joint in my upper body was aching, so I lit the fire and did nothing all day.

Today is a bit better, though shoulders still very stiff and unpleasant. I occupied myself with working out next year’s “cropping plan” for the garden – similar to last year, but with a few improvements from this year’s experiences.

002garden2020

preserving

Well, it’s gone full-on autumn! Vile weather, but laying in winter stores in full swing. Yesterday was a couple of jars of raspberry jam (which I haven’t made before – I don’t use very much jam). Today is the regular autumnal batch of green tomato chutney, to use the tomatoes that clearly won’t have a chance to ripen on the plants. A mix of Black Russian and Urbikany … the very early Latah tomatoes are already finished.

I still have a couple of jars from last year, but that’s fine: this batch will need until at least Christmas to mature in the cupboard.

.

out and about

Yesterday was over to Mum’s to meet up with Jane, Chloe, Phoebe. Chloe was very under the weather, having just broken up with her boyfriend, but Phoebe was hr usual bubbly self.

Today was Worcester Pride. I helped out on the Green Party stall for a couple of hours, in a really good atmosphere. Quite a change from the over-commercial and youth/yuppie orientation which I fel has come to typify London Pride.

And I received a fair number of approving comments about my shirt!

that carpet thing

The roughly annual chore of shampooing the carpet in the back room. UGH! Twice-over with clean water to shift surface dirt and loosen stubborn stuff, then a good go with carpet shampoo.

Possibly the last time I do it. The carpet was here (new, I think) when I bought the place five and a half years ago, and was cheapest HMO-type crap. It just can’t cope with the six months of the year when I’m in-and-out of the garden through the French window twenty or thirty times a day, and sooner or later will have to go.

I’m in two minds about lifting it and seeing if the floorboards can be sanded and stained (a fairly vile job, as I remember from helping Mike Falconer in his house at Greaves Road!), or if it would be better to buy an expensive-but-bombproof wool carpet. Or to resign myself to cheap contract stuff every five or six years.

I suspect I’m not much good at being an adult … carpet care is beyond me!

.

garden bits

The delicate pink flowers of cyclamen have appeared above the creeping thyme. I’ve very fond of these – my grandparents lawn had a very large colony of them, spreading out from a flowerbed. I took some corms from them to my London flat in the mid-1980s, and thence to my first house in Worcester, and now on to my current place. After a hesitant start, they’ve settled in well and are multiplying.

Elsewhere, the green courgettes are having a bit of a break (though as there are flowers, I should have a few more if the frost holds off), but the yellow “shooting star” is still extremely prolific! And over the past two days I’ve managed to prune both espalier apples (sadly, both have developed numerous ailments, including canker and wooly mildew …)

 .

sourdough

I’ve always used yeast when baking bread, but recently got my hands on some sourdough starter. A couple of experiments with loaves were not a major success – they rose OK, and tasted fine, but the crusts were rock-hard and inedible.

Yesterday, I thought of making rolls instead. They’ve worked out well.

Not something for everyday, though, and keeping sourdough starter alive for several months in order to be able to bake the odd batch with it doesn’t really appeal or seem feasible. I might getabit of dried sourdough starter to keep in the cupboard in case the fancy strikes me again sometime.

yucca

Some three weeks ago I decided to deal with the yucca in the brass pot in the front room – it had nearly reached the ceiling.

All the books say that you can simply saw the trunk off, halfway up, and it will strike out again. If you like, you can replant the top end and it will strike roots. I must say, I was extremely doubtful!

Anyway, I went ahead. The remains of the trunk were re-potted and put outside, and the top was potted in a fairly free-draining mix.

Today, there are the first signs of life in the old trunk. yippee!

garden bits

My first real chance to get into the garden after last week’s gales and the following heavy rains.

The most urgent job was to sort out the raspberries, which had got flattened. Hardly surprising, as they are now rather over eight feet tall (these are “Joan Squire”: I wish I knew another variety that tastes good, bears prolifically when subject to a 2-crop-a-year pruning regime, but were slightly shorter!). A few berries just starting to go orange, so should be picking a bowlful early next week.

The Black Russian tomatoes, which had outgrown their stakes, have half their top third folded over by wind. I doubt the few tomatoes on the damaged bits will ripen – if there’s no sign of them doing so in the next couple of days, I’ll pick, stew, and freeze them as green tomatoes, to be added to the mix when I make green tomato chutney at the end of the season. The other two varieties have escaped damage.

In the flower garden, the gladioli suffered, so I’ve cut them off and now have them in a vase on the coffee table. Most other things seem to have survived OK.

Another batch of spinach beet has run to seed, and been pulled up. The kale has suffered insect damage – hopefully it will sort itself out! Courgettes continue, as do runner beans and chard. I’ve just planted out – about six weeks too late – the final batch of leeks, so fingers crossed for them!

The strawberries are starting another bout of flowering – sadly, the fruit will probably ripen while I’m away on the Broads in the first week of September. In the bathroom, the “peter pepper” chilli has produced four fruit, despite having been persistently covered in aphids.

The washing line runs over the lawn, so I’m waiting for washing to dry before doing the mowing and strimming. And I must have a final go at the pond pump, though I fear that it’s completely dead. I’ve had a lot of trouble with baby water-snails getting through the filter and jamming the pump solid, so I think it’s finally expired. £70 for a replacement pump/filter/UV unit, sadly, and a fair bit of grovelling about to route the electrical cable safely. The “wildflower bank” behind the pond has been flattened by storms, but I’ll leave it for another three weeks so that any possible seeds can ripen and be shed. Hopefully, the assorted plug plants and seeds I’ve put in there over the past couple of years will manage to establish themselves.

printing

A couple of bits of printing for the Green Party yesterday – some for Worcester, some further afield. This batch went through with almost no hitches, as opposed to last Friday’s batch when the extreme humidity meant that the paper simply wouldn’t go through for the second side and I had to wait for better weather on Saturday.

flan

Having 2/3rds of a Kilner jar of pears left over from supper last night, I was seized with the desire to do something I haven’t done for some 20 years – make a flan!

I’d intended to be good. Honest, I did. But the Co-Op didn’t have gelatine, nor even lemon or lime jelly, so my plan of making a jelly using the syrup from the jar( to put between the sponge base and the fruit) had to be abandoned. I was forced, absolutely forced, to use whipped cream instead.

Very yummy it was, too.