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Smallholder’s Scrapbook

A place for notes and reminders

Gone to pot

Containers are popular for those with limited space or for providing splashes of colour. There is a multitude of containers to choose from but if you make your own, you have something totally unique. Pictured are a few of our favourites.

Free plants!

It’s time to save the seeds from the plants in the garden and it’s easy to do. Watch the seeds ripen to catch them before they disperse naturally. Pick the seed heads and let them dry in a warm spot. Collect the seeds once they’ve dried out but they may need a little coaxing if the pods haven’t fully opened. Store them in paper bags in an airtight container, ideally with some silica gel or calcium chloride to remove moisture. Come the spring you can (smugly) enjoy your free pickings!

Staying cool

Chickens can suffer with the heat at this time of year. Ways to keep them cool include:

- Providing extra shade with tarpaulin, awnings or parasols

- Hosing down the outside of the hen house a couple of times a day

- Making a wading pool just a couple of inches deep in a shaded area

- Freezing their fruit

- Freezing water in plastic bottles and adding to the drinking water to keep water cool or laying them in the run so that the hens can cool off by lying next to the bottles

Jamming

A healthy harvest means it’s time for the jamming to commence. Some reminders:

- Scum is trapped air and to get rid of it simply stir the jam in the same direction until reduced

- Undercook rather than overcook as runny jam can be boiled again

- If the worst happens and the jam hasn’t set after cooling and potting, pour back into the pan and boil again with the juice of a small lemon

- An easy way to sterilize jars is to wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and place upside down in a cool oven for 30 mins.

- To prevent fruit rising to the top of the jar, leave the jam to settle off the heat for 15 mins after reaching the setting point