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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

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Fashioned Fruit

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Alan J Hartley



Jams And Chutneys.

The outdoor Tomatoes had looked very good earlier on the Allotment and just a few weeks ago seemed to be on track for a bumper harvest. The variety Ferline are pretty tough and supposed to be Blight resistant, but with a combination of a spell with a few very cold nights followed by heavy rain, they really suffered. Just as autumn officially started they began to look rough and have only deteriorated since, so I bit the bullet and fetched them up for my mate to use to make green Tomato Chutney.
He has always made Chutneys and likes to experiment a bit, so last year I gave him a few Tomatilloes to try and will give him more this year when I fetch them up in a week or two. They are closely related to the Cape Gooseberries that you sometimes see served on the side of your plate of Melon in a restaurant only they are much bigger and they rarely ripen. Mom and I never really knew what to do with the Tomatillo fruits other than make a green, lemon flavoured sauce to go with Chicken, so it will be interesting to see what he does with a quantity of them.
I will soon harvest the Medlar fruits from my tree at home and again I eat a few, but there is normally so many of them. Last year John made some Medlar Jelly that came out very well, but was a lot sweeter than I expected. Traditionally, it was always used with meat dishes I believe, but this was sweet enough to spread on toast like jam. It did taste good though and was a very clear orangey/red colour. I think John would have liked to try making some Quince jelly as well, but I didnít get any fruit off my big tree at home at all this year.
As I said he likes to experiment and apparently he has made some Rose Hip Jelly, which I havenít tried yet. He says it seems to have set all right, so maybe I will get a taste next time I take him some vegetables from my Allotment.

John said that last year at lot of his family and friends had little gift baskets of chutneys and jams for Christmas that went down well and I think there is a lot more interest generally in this type of home made preserves now than there has ever been. I know the W.I. have always had a reputation for making them, but at every little village fete and fayre that you go to these days you will see a little stall selling them. It is a nice way to use up a glut of fruits though, especially those that may be a little damaged, or over ripe.

Some people on the Allotments make Stawberry jam as well, but my surplus always goes into the freezer. If they are loose in a tray when they are frozen they donít stick together in one big ball and then after you have put them all into one bag they remain loose and you can get out what you want. When I make a fruit Crumble out of Rhubarb, or Gooseberry, I add a few Strawberries to sweeten it, no sugar needed. On the subject of Strawberries, they are fairly dormant now so it is time to tidy them, cut them back and move them. I am going to make raised beds for mine in an effort to control them better. I have seen some interesting new varieties in the gardening catalogues that have been coming through the door just lately. Normally, when they crop the fruit comes all at once and is soon over, so I intend to re-plant one bed with an all season variety that is supposed to crop over a much longer period. A second bed will be replanted with some of the old plants to make sure I get some fruit as the new plants may not do much the first year. Then the third bed will be replanted with some of the white Strawberry plants that I have already got. I have also seen a new super large variety called ďColussus,Ē that is very expensive, so I will only buy one plant and get the runners off it to grow on for the following years. I did this with the white Strawberries and soon built up the numbers enough to make a whole bed out of them.

My Liquorice plant has put on some good growth this year, but the cold has already taken its leaves. I had thought of harvesting some this year, but think I will leave it another year to get really established. There have been several little pieces about growing Liquorice on the T.V. with one, or two clips showing how it can be used as a flavouring in cooking. Mine has certainly caused a lot of interest on the Allotment and I think my mate John will be one of the first there to get some when I do eventually dig it up! He will hardly be able to make a Chutney out of it though, but perhaps he will come up with a Liquorice Jam of some sort!


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