During the summer I spent a few hours each week dumping rubble using by bicycle as a wheel barrow, this bizarre activity was an opportunity to think beautiful thoughts and contemplate the contents of a dumpster. I was was surprised by the amount of usable materials that are dumped. When I mentioned this to the staff I was told “what people like you don’t understand is that most people can only use one toilet at a time”. Similarly, there is a limit on the amount of courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, raspberries you can consume in the week they are at their best. Chasing one’s neighbors around trying to offload courgettes is only acceptable once. Thus I found I need to learn about preserving as well as gardening.
I have a copy of “Preserves for all occasions” by Alice Crang which was originally published in 1944. I have only dipped into this book, it describes canning and bottling, I have never heard of anyone owning a can sealing machine, but bottling fruit and tomatoes along with jam making was one of the annual tasks of my grandparent’s generation.
I would not claim to have mastered jam making, but boiling up raspberries, gooseberries or raspberries with more or less equal weight of jam sugar (granulated sugar to which pecten has been added) and pouring it into jars seems to work. One of my happiest memories of recent years has been watching a group of medical students attempting civilization with afternoon tea and jam. Jam making may be easier for me than my grandmother (I’m probably the first male jam maker in the family) because modern jars are made of thin glass of uniform thickness which cope with some thermal stress, so far no breakages, but I place the jars in a baking dish to contain any catastrophic jar failure.
The only attempt at pickling beetroot was flushed down the loo a couple of years back and nobody has encouraged a second attempt. However, pickled cucumber has been a success (success being defined as “my family eats it” which may be a rather low standard). The cucumbers are sliced up, sprinkled in salt and thrown in a jar of diluted white wine vinegar and pickling spice, whilst they are not a substitute for fresh cucumber, they work well in salsa.
Over-sized courgettes seem to keep well into November and December for no more effort than putting them on a shelf. I only have space for 25 seed potatoes so they just get left in the ground until needed, much the same with carrots. Mrs. Crang suggests storing root vegetables in cool, dry sand.
Roasting tomatoes and turning them into sauce was not too successful, hopefully, by next year we will have a freezer which will give some more options. The current fridge is a place where cream cheese goes to die (why does it go pink?).
Week ending 15-Nov-2015
Nothing much has happened and as winter evolves, the garden is going into hibernation. I watched my neighbor prune his roses and hope to pluck up the courage to do mine (I have three), mine have never been pruned. I will probably just cut them right back and pretend I know what I’m doing and hope to get them under control next year.