Has there ever been such a year…

Hedgerow Jelly in the making...

… in the hedgerows? I am foraging, gathering, drying, preserving as fast as I can, and most of it is still going to waste – I only have one pair of hands and 24 hours in a day – not fair!

Blenheim Oranges ripening on our old tree...

Our Blenheim Orange is groaning with fruit – again – and we’ve been picking anything up to 9 figs a day from our Brown Turkey. I responded to a Freecycle offer of crab apples and now have 40+ jars of Crab Apple Jelly and Hedgerow Jelly in my storecupboard; there are 4 demijohns of apple wine burping happily in the downstairs bathroom, 15 large jars of chutney cooling in the garage and there’ll soon be cider, too. On a walk down by the river with my elder daughter this evening I grabbed an armful of hop vine from a tree beside the path, and in conjunction with those easily reached on the side & roof of our garage, there are now 4 trays of ripe hop pannicles drying in my dehydrator.  The hedegerows down by the riverbank are literally blue with sloes where they aren’t black with blackberries & elder, and there’s a bowl of hazelnuts on the kitchen table that I just picked up from the pavement at the top of our road, never mind the ones we grow in the front garden; saves paying £2.79 for 454g in the supermarket!

The hardware to do all this – jamjars, Kilners, demijohns, etc. – came partly from our local Freegle & Freecycle groups, partly from Transition Town Wimborne’s appeal for unused brewing & preserving equipment, which I’m storing, and partly from my sister-in-law’s capacious store room, where she’d been hoarding jamjars in the hope that one day she’d have a spare half hour free to actually make some jam! There’s plenty of equipment left to give away, too; the point of the TTW appeal was to enable other people to start up, and several have already benefitted, but there’s more where that came from, as well as the bits I’m using too!

I have never seen so much fruit out there for the taking; I know it’s probably just a result of several damp, cool years followed by a cold, pest-killing winter & a reasonably dry warm summer, but part of me really feels we shouldn’t be wasting any of this. Yes, we should always leave plenty for others (and there are others out there this year, at long last) and plenty for the birds and other wildlife, but who knows when we’ll see such bounty again?

Jars of scrumptious goodness jammed in everywhere!

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