This Sunday

Tools and where they live

Many thanks to Ian for searching out a source of reconditioned hand tools. We now have ten ‘new’ trowels and forks which, when they’ve been colour coded, will be distributed between the sheds.

As you may have noticed, small tools have terrible habit of becoming lost, in long grass or on the edge of plots, or otherwise misplaced. Please make sure that all tools you borrow are either put back in the right shed, if they’re marked with a colour, or put back where they came from. Recently gone missing are little green pricking out tools, watering can roses, all from the greenhouse, and kneeling mats from the blue shed. If anyone knows where these might be hiding, please let us know.

Volunteering morning this Sunday

Even reconditioned tools are costly. One of the ways funds are raised for the project is to make jam and chutney from our own fruit to sell, on Open Day or during the year, from the Big Shed. Among the tasks for this coming volunteering morning is to pick gooseberries from the bushes near the polytunnel.

Bring some good gloves, sit in the sun and chat while you pick. Then find some shade and top and tail the fruit ready for jam-making. Other tasks for the morning are clearing and planting the baths in the family picnic area, clearing paths, weeding and cutting grass. And if you would like take cuttings of thyme, sage and other herbs, come along and learn how it’s done.

Are you a jam or chutney maker? Or would like to learn?

The gooseberries, once picked, topped and tailed, will need preserving.

Preserves - Pickles, Jams, Chutneys, Sauces, Beverages, …

If you are able to take some of the fruit and turn it into pots of jam or chutney to raise funds for GO2, let us know. We can provide sugar and other ingredients. If you would like to learn how to make jam or chutney – as well as gooseberries there will be currants, strawberries, plums and apples and many suitable vegetables later in the season – also let us know. If enough people are interested we can hold workshops in the kitchen of the new SLI Centre in Fourways Community Centre, 
Stevenson Road.

Time to make Elderflower Cordial

An easy way to start preserving produce is to make your own elderflower cordial. There is an elder bush on the allotment, by the manure heap, which is a mass of blossom. Pick the elderflowers in the morning if you can, when the scent is strongest. Choose blossom heads that are creamy in colour rather than white and overblown. Give them a good shake to get rid of any tiny insects and use as fresh as possible. Here’s an adapted version of Sophie Grigson’s recipe from ‘Country Kitchen’, published by Headline.

About 20 elderflowers heads
1.8kg (4lbs) granulated sugar
1.2 litres (2pts) water
2 unwaxed lemons
75g (2 ½ oz) citric acid
  • Place elderflowers in a large bowl.
  • Put sugar in a pan with the water and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Pare the zest from lemons in wide strips, slice the lemons and add all to the bowl of elderflowers.
  • Pour over the boiling syrup and stir in the citric acid.
  • Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
  • The next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or J cloth). Pour into very clean glass or plastic bottles.
  • Store in a cool dark cupboard. The cordial also freezes well if you leave a gap at the top of the bottles for expansion.

Larger chemists and shops selling winemaking equipment stock citric acid, though if you can’t find it, tartaric acid can be used instead. The cordial will last all year. Try it diluted with sparkling water or poured over ice-cream. Or use it to sweeten gooseberries or apples in a compote or crumble.

What to plant or sow this Sunday

There are salad plants of all kinds, a few climbing beans and squash plants, parsley and four types of basil. Look at the grower’s guide for advice on what to sow in June on the website, grow-our-own.co.uk; there will be plenty of seeds in the Big Shed.