Monday, 1 August 2011

Rosehips aplenty and chilli peppers, too!

Cacophony of Colour - so vibrant, you can almost hear it!

Who said red and green should never be seen? I decided to take a walk down the garden to see how everything had faired after the day of drizzle we had yesterday. The assortment of shrubs that cascade over the south-facing wall mean that it is now awash with colour, transformed from the former pinks and yellows to vibrant reds, greens and deep purple berries. These rosehips are particularly spectacular, huge orbs of glossy red against a background of healthy foliage. There are still a few pink flowers scattered among them, Dog Roses, I think. Thoughts of what I can do to preserve these are on my mind.

Along the way, you come to the more muted, gentler shades of the fragrant sweet peas. I thought I had left these too late in sowing the seeds for us to benefit from such a colourful display, but they have battled on relentlessly and are now producing an array of pastel shades ranging from buttermilk through pink to deep maroon. Some of them appear almost frosted with their two-tone pink and white flowers.

But it's the rosehips that have taken today's vote, as there are just so many of them.

I wonder if these will still be here when the elderberries, haws and blackberries arrive? Hedgerow jelly is one of the favourites in this frugal household. Memories of rosehip syrup are springing to mind, but I haven't ever tried making. I wonder if I should? What else can be done with rosehips?

You can still see quite a few of the pale pink flowers on this particular bush, so I am guessing there are plenty more hips to come. Hopefully, this display is not some sort of forewarning for a treacherous winter!

In one of the little raised beds - made from a discarded chest of drawers - the leeks are beginning to resemble what they should. Despite weeding this bed almost every time I pass it, there are still telltale signs of what has shot up through the soil over the past two days.

Previously, I didin't bother much with leeks but, like the brussel sprouts, we will learn to love them. Autumn and winter evenings need a bowl of warming homemade soup and I have had great success in the past freezing these to use as and when required.

All going well, there should be enough here to see us through to next year's crop with enough surplus to trade with friends and neighbours.

I have never had great success with tomatoes, mainly owing to the fact that I either haven't had the space to grow them, the weather has been awful or else we have been preparing to move house each time tomato season came around.

This year, having yet again moved house, there was no time or space to organise the construction of a greenhouse, so these tomatoes - 6 plants I traded inwards through LETS - are sitting outside with a strip of metre high plastic across the front of their pots. It seems to have done the trick, but that's probably more to do with the fact that we've had such good weather for the past couple of months than anything else. Alongside these, I have some Cape Gooseberries, which are now flowering and beginning to set fruit.

Our latest housemove, which will hopefully be our last, has found us in a street of like-minded people who all take great pride in their gardens. They really are a lovely bunch of neighbours, we couldn't have asked for better.

Surplus produce and plants are happily exchanged and it isn't unusual to see folks walking along the street carrying some form of fruit, vegetable or plant. It's a great little place - very friendly and very welcoming!

Just yesterday, I received a knock on the front door and opened it to find someone bringing me surplus blackcurrants, which I'll probably make into jam or apple and blackcurrant pie filling. In exchange, I hope said neighbour is happy sampling their dozen fresh quail eggs that I was able to offer them.

Indoors, on the kitchen windowsill, I have my three pepper plants - one, a much appreciated gift from friends who were visiting and the others given to me by fellow LETS members.

This is the Jalopeno pepper - a type of chilli - that has started producing quite a few long, green fruits. I daren't taste them, as they're too hot for me, but I will be using them in whatever Tex-Mex meals I make in future. Stir fried with other veg and served with chicken in a warm, homemade tortilla dressed with salsa, mayo and cheese, these are delicious.

This is my Apache chilli pepper, the one that arrived through the post from the friends who had been to visit us last month.

This is a lovely plant, which sits neatly in the middle of the windowsill in it's own little tin bucket. In the brief time that I've had it, the many flowers and tiny peppers have developed quickly and now range through all stages of the growing/ripening process. It is absolutely dripping in fruit.

Again, these will be used in chilli type dishes, added as extra spicy topping to homemade pizza and I'll be drying all the extras for storing. If I'm lucky, I'll save some seeds to sow next year, but will also attempt to over winter the plants in the hope that they see us through a second year. My sweet pepper is just beginning to flower, so I didn't bother photographing that, maybe next time.

The whole house now smells of sweet peas, as I'm clipping a few flowers every other day to keep in small vases in each of the main rooms. They certainly smell much nicer than any chemically manufactured spray, block or gel and I haven't ever found myself sneezing at these.

Who needs air freshener, or even perfume, when the garden can produce such fragrant flowers? It reminds me of the times when we used to soak the rose petals to make homemade prefume many, many years ago. I wonder how easy it would be to dry some of these for pot pourri?

I promised myself that I would try to keep the blog up to date even when there was no significant progress in the Frugaldom microholding, but seeing these photographs reminds me firmly that every day is a day of progress. Afterall, this time last year, we had not the slightest inclination that we'd have moved house again, nor had we even considered the possibility that we'd have bought a place like this. 

Never give up on your dream. In frugaldom, every penny counts and a penny saved is always seen as a penny earned. Visit our frugal living forums HERE and share your frugal exploits with others who are all in pursuit of their own dreams. Being rich doesn't need to mean having money- see you there!

Edited in: I came back to edit this part in - after catching up on a few other blogs, this ties in nicely with today's topic, so I'm going to give it a go. Chocolate Log Blog: We Should Cocoa - the August Challenge.

6 comments:

  1. wonderfully evocotive post rosehip syrup is nice as a cordial with fizzy water:)

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  2. Nyk, you can pick the hips and freeze them until needed. this is the same as picking them after the first frost

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  3. Thanks, Shaz. Rosehip syrup is on the 'to do' list soon.

    Do I simply bag them up and pop them into the freezer? That would be really handy, as they're ripening by the day. Some are absolutely huge!

    I'll be using some for my chocolate challenge, as I have some ideas for truffles and fondants. More on that experiment later.

    Looks like I'll be requesting some clip top bottles for my birthday - last year it was clip top jars for the jam. :)

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  4. Yes, I usually just bring them home & put them straight in the freezer until i need them

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  5. So pleased the move was worthwhile and you've found a good home to live in. Lovely garden pictures. I've made rosehip syrup a couple of times but didn't get around to it last year. As for the chillies, we managed to keep one of our indoor ones going for about 5 years - just kept cutting it back after fruiting each year.

    Looking forward to seeing your truffles.

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  6. Oh, Choclette, that was meant to be my secret August entry. LOL Maybe I'll need to tweak the recipe a bit now and keep it under lock and key until I've made 'whatever'. :)

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