Today at my allotment I set about making a new compost area at the back of my fourth plot. The area was quite overgrown.
I have the usual black dalek compost bins on my allotment too, which I use to put peelings and old vegetable plants. The contents break down quickly in these and I empty the compost every autumn.
I also have various larger compost areas made out of pallets, where I put all my perennial weeds or things that take a lot longer to break down. I leave these compost areas approximately four or five years to breakdown.
Quite often there are weed seeds in this compost but I don’t find it a problem provided I keep on top of my weekly hoeing.
I started by cutting back all the nettles and bindweed, which I will actually put in the compost area I’m making.
I removed the old bits of wood and the fence panels that I found and then levelled the soil by digging and raking the area.
I then put a big piece of tarpaulin on the ground to stop any perennial weeds from growing over the area again. I found the tarpaulin on my fourth plot when I took it on in January and I knew it would come in useful at some time in the future.
Tomorrow I will put the pallets together
Today I made Blackberry and Apple Jelly. Here’s the recipe:
3 lb. of Blackberries
2 large apples or 4 smaller ones, cored and diced
¾ pint of water
2 tablespoons of lemon
A piece of muslin or a clean tea towel
Bring a pan of water to the boil and put your muslin or tea towel in it and boil for 3 minutes. Take it out of the water and wring it out and then leave to cool.
Put the blackberries, apple, and lemon juice in a large pan with ¾ pint of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 25 minutes until the fruit is soft.
Tip the fruit into the muslin and let it drip overnight or for approximately 8 hours. I find it easier to put the muslin over a colander that is already over a bowl, as it’s easier to pour the fruit into it.
In the picture below, you can see how I suspend my muslin bag over a bowl. I have read that an upside down stool can be helpful to do this, but I have never tried it.
The next day put some side plates or saucers in the freezer to check the setting point of your jelly.
Measure the juice. For every 1 pint of juice, measure 1lb of sugar. Put the juice and sugar back into a large pan and bring it to the boil slowly, over a low heat, until the sugar has dissolved.
When you can see no sugar crystals on the back of your wooden spoon, turn the heat up and boil hard until the setting point has been reached.
To check the setting point, put a small amount of jelly on a saucer from the freezer and wait for a few moments, push the jelly with your finger and if it wrinkles then the setting point has been reached, if not, just continue boiling for a further five minutes and then check again.
When the setting point has been reached, take the pan off the heat and leave it for fifteen minutes. If there is scum on your jelly, you can skim it off, but I just stir in a small knob of butter which does the same job.
Sterilise some jam jars (gas mark 4 for 5 minutes)
Pour the jelly into the jars and seal with lids.
I use the jars that have a sealable lids (i.e. the jars that jam is sold in at the supermarket). This way you don’t need to worry about wax discs to create a seal. As the jam cools, the lids ‘pop down’ and make you jump.
Thank you for reading my blog today.