Tag Archives: plums

One of those Cheerful Posts about Happy Things

If something is upsetting you, it needs addressing and the worst thing in my life this week has been WordPress. I have now made the first step towards my new life after WordPress. I am committed to another year, using the plug-in Classic Editor, but the countdown has begun. The Classic Editor, for me, is as good as the Classic Block, and has the added advantage of allowing me to relax as I write.

My email system, like WP, has recently had a so-called “new and improved” version and, as with WordPress, it’s time to move on. I have just signed up to a new provider who has a good clear system with plenty of useful features. I’ve been testing it and it seems OK so I’m going to start moving across to it. This is also part of my plan for the new blog.

I’m not quite sure what form the new blog will take, and don’t know where it will be hosted, but I do know that, unless a miracle happens, it won’t be on WordPress.

I think I’ve been conned over the garden fence issue, and I know I have the law on my side, but it’s easier just to go with the easiest route. Half a garden fence is cheaper than being proved right in court.

The dishonest customer is a bit more of an issue but Julia has told me that my plan of posting bits of dead animal to him is an over-reaction. The fact that I was going to use roadkill rather than killing things specially does not, in her eyes, make it any better.

I’m already beginning to feel better…

Foreign Banknotes

I found a list when we were clearing some old papers out. It was a list of inventions I was considering.

Top of the tree as ideas go, is compostable underwear. It’s like normal pure cotton underwear but with added potato starch. I’m sure you all compost your old underwear anyway, but this would have the added advantage (to the manufacturer) of programmed obsolescence.

Instead of wearing it for twenty years, people would have to buy new when it began to biodegrade, probably after three. Then they could chuck it on the compost heap, buy new stuff and feel virtuous.

Julia has just read this over my shoulder. She tells me that not everybody composts their old underwear. Well, shame on you, I say. I have composted cotton and wool clothing, and leather and cotton work gloves. Yes, even leather will compost away. Things with polyester can also go in the heap, but you have to go through it to retrieve the mesh of polyester left behind, so it probably isn’t worth the effort.

Anyway, that’s enough writing for one day. Time to load a photo or two and look at new blogging platforms.

We had gammon and roast veg for tea tonight, as in the photo. We also had a plum flan, but that didn’t last long enough for me to take a photograph.

Gammon and roast veg for tea

Last night we had new potatoes and mint from the garden (Julia has been growing them in containers) with a quiche that included our own tomatoes.

We picked more plums today and were given more figs. It’s a good time of year. It’s just a shame it means winter is on the way.

 

The Fruit Exchange

We gave one of the neighbours a bowl of plums the other day. I thought Julia was being a bit generous with the size of the bowl, as I like plums, but let’s face it, they go bad easily so it’s better to give them away than see them rot.

Today we had a knock on the door and were given a bowl of figs and two sizeable squash.  Fair exchange, as they say, is no robbery.

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Figs – Brown Turkey

They look a bit green, but they are beautifully ripe – I’ve already had one to check. Some of the plums are perfect and some still a little sharp, but it’s better, I feel to pick at this point. One year we left them a bit late and a lot went brown and mouldy overnight. Some years, because of poor management, the tree fails to produce, but although it’s disappointing it’s not as bad as wasting the crop.

Our cherry tree, as I may have remarked before, was picked clean by birds most years so I simply took it out, which gave more room for the plum and the rhubarb.

Julia tells me that the container grown damson tree is almost ready to pick, though the harvest will only be eight fruits.

The final photograph is plums in a steel bowl. It’s difficult photographing fruit. They may sit still, but there’s not much of interest about them so when  I got the chance to use the reflections I gave it a go.

Reflected Plums - Victoria

Reflected Plums – Victoria

The problem was that as I took pictures I ate plums and by the end of the shoot there were significantly fewer plums in the photographs.

I’ve been thinking about my retirement and if I really need a garden or should buy a flat instead. A flat would mean no garden and less work, but a bungalow would mean space to sit outside and would make me take exercise, which I really should have. And I could plant fruit trees.

There are various proverbs and quotes on this subject, but it is now time for me to plant trees even though I may not live to sit in their shade.

Like Work, but More Fun

We had a busy day today – the phone kept ringing, people kept visiting (with and without appointments) and though we only had two orders on eBay overnight, we had six more come in during the day. We also managed to load three lots onto eBay.

It’s just like being at work, but more fun.

When I returned home my first impression was of lemon-scented hygiene. Julia had clearly been cleaning.

She had also been cooking. We had two apple crumbles and a plum tart. The plums are from our own tree, which has been very prolific this year. The apples are from the Mencap garden and the garden of one of the neighbours. It’s always satisfying to use the garden produce. It’s just a shame that it’s over so soon. We really ought to plan the garden better, but we never quite get round to it. We’ve had plenty of courgettes this year and the baskets of tumbling tomatoes are doing well.

She also managed to cook an excellent meal of marinaded chicken, rice with fruit and nuts and green salad with tomatoes from the garden.

Whilst doing that she caught the knife block with her elbow and was momentarily the middle of a cloud of flying knives. Not quite The House of Flying Daggers, but as close as we are likely to get.

Fortunately she survived unperforated.

1997 Silver Dollar

1997 Silver Dollar

I took photos of a group 1921 pennies for eBay, a silver dollar and a papal visit medallion. While I was photographing the medallion I decided it would look good on my collection.

It doesn’t really fit in to my collection, but collectors can always find an excuse. It is an exceptionally nice medallion. with good portraits and excellent relief. And yes, now you come to ask, Newman really did, according to all his portraits, have a nose that size.

The 1921 pennies will come into their own next year – people always seem to like centenaries for souvenirs or party favours. The things that people buy are an interesting subject.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Cardinal Newman

Cardinal Newman

 

A Painted Lady Comes to Call

I’ve had a few problems with WordPress today, including the complete loss of a post. This was annoying as I’d spent a significant amount of time looking for links and photos.

Julia picked plums in the early afternoon and saw a Painted Lady in the garden – another first for the garden. Added to the Small Copper and Hummingbird Hawk Moth we saw earlier in the year it’s all coming together nicely.


When we left home to do some errands this afternoon we spent a few minutes watching the front garden and were rewarded by two small brown butterflies hustling past in the swirling wind, then a larger one, which proved to be a Painted Lady. It took some photographing, as it was quite skittish and there was a stiffish breeze once it left cover.

We’re not doing too badly for butterflies in the garden, partly due to looking a bit more than usual and partly due to a good showing of Red Valerian. We’ve also had Mint Moths on the marigolds, which is a first, as I’ve always seen them on mint or oregano before.

As for the plums, Julia has picked over 200. As usual, it’s a case of picking them when ripe and then using them quickly before they start to go over. We’ve given some to Angela Across the Road, who gave us figs and tomatoes in return. We’ve also given some to the Young Couple Next Door, because they give us cake.

I’m going to make sure we feed the tree properly next year, and ensure the pruning is done properly. I’ve been a bit slapdash with pruning recently and it’s turning into a biennial bearer. This is my fault, not the tree’s. If the feeding works it should fruit moderately next year, which will take some of the vigour out of it for the year after. If not, it looks like I’ll have to remove fruit buds two years from now.

I think this all started about six years ago when we had a bad spring that killed all the blossom. The next year was a bumper year due to all the stored energy and the one after that we didn’t harvest any fruit at all. I should have got on top of it when we had the first bumper year, instead I added neglect to the problem by letting the pruning slip by.

We are having Plum and Apple Crumble for tea.

All in all this has been a good day.

Hope and Plums

In all the wedding cake, hope is the sweetest of the plums.

Douglas Jerrold

Despite the temperature and wind, a lone Peacock toughed it out in the garden this morning. I’m sure there would have been more if we’d had more time, but we could only manage a flying visit. Julia was taking a group for someone else at the main building and we had to be there for nine.

While Julia had a word with the school caretaker I took the chance to take some photos. These include the fruit and some of the beds. I took the fruit because it’s a nice thing to photograph (and some of it is just starting to ripen). The beds are quite good too, with some of the grasses now starting to show well.

I’m taking them as reference shots to help Julia with her garden planning. Now the mint has been cleared by one of the volunteers (too soon in my opinion) they are looking a bit bare, and devoid of pollinators. Apart from that I’m doing nothing – Julia can work out what happens next.

It’s going to be very interesting as the seasons come round, as we need to see what bulbs are planted.

In truth nothing much needs doing as it’s a well established garden with plenty of provision for wildlife, but there’s always something needing to be done. They look white and green from the photos but there is lavender in there and a few remaining orange lilies with scattered evening primrose.

Soon we will be picking fruit and collecting manure for the rhubarb beds. The rhubarb has been a bit week this year, a sure sign it needs feeding as it’s always known as a “hungry crop” by ancient gardeners leaning on spades.

When we fed the rhubarb on the farm we ended up with a rhubarb jungle, so watch this space for further news.

 

The Green Cathedral

We visited an orchard yesterday with Men in Sheds and Byron the farm apprentice.

I’d been told that we would be visiting a Permaculture project but, once more, I discovered that the farmer isn’t quite clear on what Permaculture is.  There were no ponds, no zones and no ducks. There were, however,  bees, bullfinches and a feeling of peace so it was still well worth a visit. This was particulalrly true of the more mature, less intensive end of the field, where arching trees and unmown wild flower meadow provided an experience like being in a green cathedral.

It may not be permaculture, and it’s not even organic, but it is run with a feeling for nature. Despite some clear ill-feeling on the matter of Bullfinches the owner was still able to tell us he had seen a group of them using the bird baths he provides. There’s one variety of pear tree, and I’m afraid I’ve forgotten which one, where the bullfinches don’t just eat the fruit buds but actually cripple the tree by taking the leaf buds too.

I forgot most of what I was told about the number of varieties he grows – though I did manage to photograph a list of 33 gooseberries. (He actually claims to have around 60 varieties of gooseberry in all) There are 17 varieties of cherry. He also has blackcurrants, redcurrants, white currants and pink currants, plus apples, pears, fourteen sorts of fig and a medlar. That’s just the stuff I can remember.

This is a picture of a plum tree with Plum Pox Virus (or Sharka virus if you want a more interesting name for it). I hadn’t heard of it until the visit. Treatment is to take the tree out and destroy it.

 

Measuring time in terms of trees

We started the Woodland Trust recording programme today – a programme that is going to see us take monthly readings for the next 25 years. I say “us” but I’m not sure about the chances of me being here in 2040. I’m more likely to be under a tree than measuring one by that time.

Despite this, it’s good to think we’re involved in an activity which may persuade people to start more agroforestry schemes. It may never be a mainstream farming technique but even if only a few people do it as a result of our recording it will make it all worthwhile. How often do you get a chance to alter the world?

We are measuring wind and temperature data in the fields between the rows of apple trees to see how they modify the climate. It’s not as interesting as measuring the height and spread, but you don’t really need to do that every month.

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It does you good to think in terms of trees rather than human lifespan. Most of the world’s problems seem to be caused by people who don’t think very far ahead and if we all started planting trees for our grandchildren the world would be a better place.

I planted two trees in the garden a few years ago. I’m not really sure how many years, probably about fifteen. I honestly didn’t plan it too well. They were too close to each other and too close the the boundary fence. When I planted them they were about six feet tall and were meant to be trained in a ballerina shape. The neighbour who gave them to me hadn’t pruned them for a couple of years but I was confident I could get them back to form.

Lesson One: Overconfidence is not a good thing.

Three or four years later, with some lax pruning they were small trees and were growing into each other. As the birds were getting more cherries than we were (one year we literally harvested FOUR cherries) I decided the cherry tree should go.

Lesson Two: Try to vsiualise things as they will be in years to come.

Finally, with some properly structured pruning, I have a very productive plum tree, which is now the source of a dispute with my neighbours. They don’t like it hanging over their garden and they don’t like the plums dropping off and making a mess. I’d actually left the branches on as I thought they might like a few plums and might think I was tight if I cut the branches back. Seems I was wrong.

Lesson Three: A gift of free plums is not always appreciated.