Thursday, 8 September 2011

Long live the chilli plants

I am not sure what has been wrong with my technique of growing chillies in the last two years. I suspect they might have taken objection to my reluctance feeding them.

Anyway, come September they were, and are  - this year even worse - just about to flower for the first time if at all. Won't bear much of a crop.

Except last year I discovered chillies are tender perennials.

So I took 3 pots in over winter and kept them on the kitchen windowsill. They kept flowering and produced the odd tiny chilli. The only problem was greenfly, which affected them all winter. At some stage I also petted a ladybird, that I found on the window, to try and  get rid of them. But then it was summer and I put them outside again.

Here is one. It looks like I will get my crop from them rather than the new plants this year. So if you have not been very lucky with your chilli plants, don't give up. They might do better next year, given a bit of TLC over winter.

I myself am planning to make room in the loft this winter for my new and not so new chilli plants. And for my latest discovery: perennial basil...

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Another year of elderberries

I have not written for a while: gardening is repetitive, so I sort of ran out of topics, and I am trying to figure out how to make my pages interesting in the little time I have. Also, I am not happy with pictures from my new camera, so my old blog format does not work any longer.

That does not mean that I have not carried on in my garden and in the kitchen finding the best ways to use my produce.

Elderberry had a special place this year too. I made Holunderlikoer, which I love, and jam (but it set too hard so it rolls rather than spreading). Then my friend wrote to me saying she had found out elderberries had medicinal properties, could I sent her something. I researched it a bit on the web and found it is good for winter colds and coughs, and what I was after was a "rob" - which, I found out today, stands for thickened juice).

Could not find a definitive recipe, but storage over time seemed an issue with some of them. So I made up my own recipe with info from here and there.

My own elderberry rob
  • 500 gr ripe elder berries
  • 200 gr sugar 
  • 4 clovers
  • ground ginger and cinnamon to taste
With a fork, pull the berries from the stalks, removing as many of the remaining stalks as possible. Wash.
Simmer the berries until soft and squash them with a food mill to get the juice (without seeds, as they are mildly toxic). 
Mix with the sugar and bring to the boil, adding the spices. Thicken it to a runny honey texture. Bottle as jam.

Let's see if it works.