Monthly Archives: August 2015

Quenched & drenched

Step by Step - Holiday care - © GAP Photos

Step by Step – Holiday care – © GAP Photos

Your bags are all packed, the fridge has been cleared, and grandma’s been given the heads up about feeding the cat while you’re away – but how will the plants cope when you decide to replace your garden’s grass with Mediterranean sand between your toes for a fortnight? Well, with a few savvy ideas, not badly at all. Of course, having someone come round regularly to water your precious pots would be the ideal solution, but not all of us have such obliging folk living nearby. So here are a few easy ways to ensure your plants aren’t burnt to a crisp on your return, even if you are:

Step by Step - Holiday care - © GAP Photos

Step by Step – Holiday care – © GAP Photos

Using a Stanley knife, make a series of small horizontal slits in the base of a large plastic bottle. Then fill the bottle with cold water.

Step by Step - Holiday care - © GAP Photos

Step by Step – Holiday care – © GAP Photos

Stand the bottle, and the plant that you want to be kept watered, in a large tray part filled with water. Gently undo the top of the bottle till water slowly begins to trickle out of the base, which it will do for up to one week.

Holiday care - © GAP Photos

Holiday care – © GAP Photos

Alternatively, specially designer water reservoirs can be purchased for individual pots. Simply insert into your container, fill the water tank and leave it to slowly seep into the compost over a few days.

Step by Step - Holiday care - © GAP Photos

Step by Step – Holiday care – © GAP Photos

If you need to keep a large number of pots watered in your absence, then this larger water reservoir will help. Drill a series of holes in the base using a power drill.

Step by Step - Holiday care - © GAP Photos

Step by Step – Holiday care – © GAP Photos

Fill the container with water then place it, along with your potted plants, into a large tray of water. Again, gently undo the lid slightly so that air can enter the bottle and encourage the moisture to seep out as needed.

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Berry busy

Frozen Summer Fruits. Variety of frozen foraged berries. Featuring Blueberries - Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries - Rubus fruticosus - © GAP Photos

Frozen Summer Fruits. Variety of frozen foraged berries. Featuring Blueberries – Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries – Rubus fruticosus – © GAP Photos

Walk into any fruit cage during the peak of summer, and you’ll find it difficult not to walk back out again with juice-stained fingers. The abundance of crops at this time of year is astounding. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries and blackberries can all be cropping come this time of year, fuelled by sunny, warm days that lead to the accumulation of such sugar-packed jewels. Preserving the harvest at its peak is paramount, before wasps, rots and inferior musty flavours get the better of it. Freezing literally prevents spoilage in its tracks – here’s how to do it:

Frozen Summer Fruits. Placing foraged berries in a tray for freezing. Featuring Blueberries - Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries - Rubus fruticosus - © GAP Photos

Frozen Summer Fruits. Placing foraged berries in a tray for freezing. Featuring Blueberries – Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries – Rubus fruticosus – © GAP Photos

Harvest your chosen berries at their peak point of ripeness – check and pick over plants daily to establish this. Fruits should be soft, not firm, yet not mushy and oozing juice.

Frozen Summer Fruits. Placing foraged berries in a tray for freezing. Featuring Blueberries - Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries - Rubus fruticosus - © GAP Photos

Frozen Summer Fruits. Placing foraged berries in a tray for freezing. Featuring Blueberries – Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries – Rubus fruticosus – © GAP Photos

Pick on a dry day and only wash the berries if absolutely necessary. Remove any showing blemishes (use these for jams) and then space the remaining fruit out evenly, untouching on a tray.

Frozen Summer Fruits. Glass tray containing frozen foraged berries. Featuring Blueberries - Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries - Rubus fruticosus - © GAP Photos

Frozen Summer Fruits. Glass tray containing frozen foraged berries. Featuring Blueberries – Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries – Rubus fruticosus – © GAP Photos

Perfectly frozen fruits are ideal for defrosting for pavlovas. By freezing the berries in small, well-spaced batches you’ll prevent them from clumping together which results in damage when attempting to separate them.

Frozen Summer Fruits. Plastic container full of frozen foraged berries. Featuring Blueberries - Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries - Rubus fruticosus - © GAP Photos

Frozen Summer Fruits. Plastic container full of frozen foraged berries. Featuring Blueberries – Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries – Rubus fruticosus – © GAP Photos

Once the berries are frozen, you can transfer them into smaller trays which will take up less room in the freezer. At this point the fruits can sit on top of each other and they won’t clump together.

Frozen Summer Fruits. Plastic containers full of frozen foraged berries. Featuring Blueberries - Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries - Rubus fruticosus - © GAP Photos

Frozen Summer Fruits. Plastic containers full of frozen foraged berries. Featuring Blueberries – Vaccinium, Raspberries and Blackberries – Rubus fruticosus – © GAP Photos

Defrost the fruits in batches as and when needed, allowing them to slowly rise to room temperature. They’re ideal for topping desserts, making into summer puddings or blending into a loose syrup for yoghurts.