GardenSite were once again pleased to support the Boldmere Community Festival which took place on 18 November, with the Christmas Lights switched on by Alan Gardner, well known for his appearances as TV's Autistic Gardener.
In the autumn, when there is a glut of fruit and vegetables, particularly if you have an allotment, you may have to store fresh produce or conserve it in some way, here Martyn Loach offers some advice.
If you safely keep fruit and vegetables through the winter, you save money and can enjoy their great taste over several months. Remember to sollect only the best produce, discard any that is damaged or diseased.
After lifting, clean soil off roots such as carrots and beetroot and then cover in damp sand. Dry potatoes so the skin hardens and keep in a hessian sack.
When their leaves have died back, onions should be lifted and left to dry, preferably on wire racks in the sun. When they are really dry and the skins papery either plait them using string or store in crates or baskets, and leave in a cool dark place.
Apples can be stored for a fair amount of time, particularly late maturing varieties, and pears between two weeks and three months.
Position the fruits in a single layer, not touching each other and keep different varieties separately. Make sure there's good air circulation and you can go to the trouble of individually wrapping apples in tissue or newspaper. Check regularly and discard any fruit that is showing signs of rot.
Many vegetables including beans, sprouts and broccoli can be frozen. First blanch in water to kill bacteria without destroying vitamins, then cool quickly add place in freezer bags. Berries and currents and many fruits such as damsons, even apples, can also be frozen.
Chillies can be left to dry in a bowl or hung up, they also freeze very well. Tomatoes can be frozen or you can make the equivalent of sun-dried tomatoes in the oven. Varieties with lots of flesh rather than juice are most suitable, halve and salt them and place on a rack at a low temperature (about 50C) for about 5 hours, they should still be slightly moist and can be stored in olive oil.
For fruit use syrup made up from 8oz of sugar dissolved in 1 pt of hot water. Trim off any stems and leaves, apples and pears should be peeled and sliced, and then completely fill the jar before pouring the syrup in. Now place the jars so they are not touching on a trivet in a large pan. Fill the pan with warm water (about 40C) covering the jars completely, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 mins.
Making pickles, jams and chutneys is another great way of preserving fruit and vegetables, in fact pickling dates back 4000 years.
There's too many methods and recipes to go into here but the science is roughly the same. After heating fruit for jams, adding sugar helps prevent bacteria growth, while pickles and chutneys use a combination of vinegar, salt, sugar and spices.
For both bottling and making preserves or chutneys make sure that everything you use is sterilized either by heat or specialist solutions.
GardenSite announce the introduction of the Kingston Range, a brand new collection of three multi-purpose lean-to and freestanding carports and a similarly styled contemporary gazebo.
The 'Beast From the East' one year, followed by record breaking temperatures the next, no-one can say our weather is predictable but what is foreseeable is that our Garden Centre will be having a huge amount of new stock arriving for spring which officially starts on the 20th March,
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, tips and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2019.
Wood burners and open fires that require a good supply of dry, well seasoned wood, have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the past few years. Log stores have therefore become increasingly essential and David Coton explains the differences between the many that are now available.