Monday, November 2, 2009

Some work

First bit of proper work in the garden for a long time. Cleared and mowed two areas of lawn; aired and put away the patio umbrella; got some leaves out of the pond and to my great pleasure saw a live and well looking frog/toad. Noticed that the sprouts are coming on nicely, which is gratifying.

The garden is in much better shape than this time last year. There are no bald or dead bits of lawn and the borders are in better shape too. I rather wish I'd got my bulbs in before the leaves fell, but never mind.

Saw a couple of tiny, very early flowers on the winter jasmine. Our main holly tree also has more berries on it than I've ever seen.

Yesterday I put some bulbs in little pots to grow on indoors. One will go on the landing, the other in the conservatory. It may be too warm in the house but I'm hopeful. We don't keep it tropical! They each have 1 tulip in the bottom (purisima) and some dwarf irises just above. Last year I had a gorgeous scented hyacinth called Woodstock but I can only find it growing rather than as a bulb and I'm too mean to buy it that way. Edit: ooh I see Avon Bulbs have them. Mmmm...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

First attempt at making wine

Late on Friday afternoon I decided to pick our grapes. It was forecast to rain the next day and I didn't want to pick them wet. I'd left them as long as I could because I'd read that getting them to be sweet enough is meant to be very difficult.

Picking them wasn't the easiest job in the world; next year I'll have to get either the vine or the rose to go somewhere else!

The following day I settled down to prepare them. I had to get the grapes off the stems, and separate out any that were mouldy, as well as any other foreign bodies that had come along for the ride. It took ages, and in one afternoon I touched more snails and spiders than I ever have before...

Then I mashed them in batches with a potato masher, then put the whole lot into our apple press. The juice was a gorgeous colour, and quite soon the press was too.

My husband suggested we sterilise the juice with a Camden tablet and use artificial yeast, but I wanted to leave the juice natural. The risk is that it might well go peculiar if things weren't clean enough, but if it works I think the result will taste more interesting. So we compromised by adding extra artificial yeast as well, but not sterilising.

We put the pulp in too, in a bag made of muslin. This is what it looked like at the end of yesterday:

And this is what it looks like now:

So something's working!