The Productive Garden

It’s fair to say that our principal focus as gardeners is on what might be called the ‘decorative’ part of the garden: borders filled with flowering plants and shrubs. That’s certainly the aspect of the garden we mostly blog about. But there is another important part of our garden and that’s the productive side. We have a veg patch which is about the size of the allotment we used to have in Birmingham. We have a polytunnel which is currently filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, melons and basil. There is a fruit cage which ought to have raspberry canes in it (that’s another story) but from which we did get a good crop of black currants at mid-Summer. Last but by no means least, we also have a cutting bed, from which we are continuing to get a really good ‘crop’ of cut flowers.

At this time of year though, our thoughts turn to our small orchard and the hedgerows which surround us. The orchard was in a pretty poor state when we inherited it. We were really down to just a couple of large, old apple trees, three plum and several gnarled damson trees. We’ve since lost one of the apple trees and some of the damsons. We’re trying to restore the orchard however and have planted a dozen new apple trees, together with pear, plum, mulberry and medlar.

What to do with the crop? Well, this is the time of year we get out the maslin pan and start some serious jam, chutney and pickle making. Damson jam is one the finest things there is! But damsons also make a great tangy chutney. We take a lot of apples to a local press, which gives us a year’s supply of apple juice. And last but by no means least we love damson and sloe gin, which we lay down for drinking the following year.

As for the grapes in the picture? They’re an unexpected bonus from the vine we planted, for purely decorative reasons, against the summer house. The grapes actually taste pretty good but those are the only two bunches, so we won’t be making any wine just yet.

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