Tuesday 24 October 2023

Reliable quince

We picked the remaining quinces off the quince tree today. They are fully ripe and two or three had patches of rot on them so it was time to gather them in. We had another very good crop this year. 

Quinces look so attractive on the tree as they turn golden yellow, late in the year. The dark green leaves, which stll hold their colour, make them shine out all the brighter.

Janet  has already made quince and ginger jam from earlier pickings. Quince jelly, or membrillo, is to come. Today we had quince and apple crumble which is a tasty mix. Janet lifts crumbles by adding a star anise and orange zest to the fruit and by using oats in the topping. I don't mind if crumble is accompanied by custard or vanilla ice cream but when we have guests there is generally a 50-50 split. 

Saturday 14 October 2023

Someone knocking on the door (Wings)

I've been at my desk a bit more than usual recently because of my temporary period of reduced physical activity. For the last couple of days there have been periods of persistent tapping on the window. This turned out to be a Great Tit. Our front door and glass side-pane has mirrored glass and so presumably the Great Tit is responding to its reflection. It's companions have been fluttering about against the glass. 

Crows aside, the commonsest birds we see on our smallholding are Great Tits, Pied Wagtails, Long-tailed Tits at certain times of the year, Wrens, Robins, Blackbirds, Pheasants, Jays and overhead buzzards are very common. I have seen many other species but these are the regular visitors. 

Since avian flu became a big problem three of four years ago we no longer put out bird feeders. In reality around here there is probably enough winter food for wild birds but it was always nice to get close up views. 

Friday 6 October 2023

Joy in all things, including shallots

I think I have had my best year for onions and shallots. They all grew to a good size and were mostly of a uniform proportion. Hardly any showed signs of bolting or thick neck so they look like they will store well. There should be enough to see us through to when next year's crop are ready.

The onions were 'Sturon' which are generally very reliable. They were grown from sets planted out in mid-April. The shallots were 'Zebrune' which are the banana shallot variety. These have to be grown from seed as sets are not available. They are worth the extra effort, though, because you get several bulbs for each seedling planted out, and I think they are the best shallot for cooking with.

Shallot 'Zebrune' - some of this year's crop.

I have been gradually catching up and getting back on top of things on the smallholding after the interruptions of two successive surgeries for a detached retina. Alas, it has happened for a third time and I am back on Monday to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to go through the operation and recovery process again. But this will not diminish my delight in this year's crop of shallots! "Count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness".