fruit


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From left: Cherry plums with French tarragon in kombucha, Syrian rose (Hibiscus syriacus) buds, Cherry plums pure, Cherry plums with beetroot pieces, cherry plums with French tarragon

For some years, I have wild fermented unripe cherry plums, and been utmost satisfied with the result. This year, I repeat the process, now with some variations. I try to put some raw beetroot pieces into one of the glasses for red-coloured plums ferment. I put French tarragon in two glasses, one of which is fermented in kombucha.
Since I had to cut my Syrian rose slightly, I searched for it on the web and found, that it is edible. The buds are about the size of cherry plums, leading me to wild ferment a batch of them. Never read about anyone fermenting Syrian rose, could be wonderful.

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Cherry plums wild fermenting in boxes

My recipe for success:

Lactic acid fermentation. Prick the Cherry plums with a fork. Add herbs or beet pieces and cover it all in a cold 5% saline brine. Now, keep it a warm room temperature to start the wild fermentation. Let it bubble happy for a week or two, then relocate to a cool pantry. Fermentation develops gases that have to escape. In glasses release the lid shortly on a daily base (at longer intervals, when little gas is released). When I use plastic boxes (food grade), I use an extra box as lid an weight. It works very well, keeping the Cherry plums (or other ferments) neatly under the fluid, leaving a narrow space where gasses can escape. The bubbles seems to make enough turmoil to prevent mould from growing in the first most microbial active weeks. When I transfer them to a glass later, I can pack cherry plums closer, it saves space. And I don’t have to release the lid so many times.

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Cherry plums fermenting with beetroot for a nice red colour

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Cherry plums with French tarragon in kombucha

Fermenting in kombucha will probably be shorter than the lactic ferments. As I close the lid, only releasing pressure once a day there will be little oxygen available. I expect the kombucha culture to only develop a little under these conditions, enough to make a thin SCOBY on top, as a kind of interior lid. This may cause, a secondary fermentation, either alcoholic or lactic. The first time I saw a secondary wild fermentation, I was a little frightened. It was the spring shoots of Hosta. But the result was good and mild tasting. Now I have to wait and see how the plums in kombucha develops.

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Flower buds of Syrian rose (Hibiscus syriacus) fermenting with the box-method

When wild fermenting flower buds of Syrian rose, I decided to use the box method. From the taste of the raw flower buds, I guess they are very nutritious. All this nutrients can feed a powerful fermentation, with lots of gasses, a stormy fermentation. With the box-method no gasses will build up, but are continuous released.

Now my patience is put to test – I want to taste, but must wait.

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Hawberry (Crataegus laevigata og Crataegus monogyna)

There are plenty of hawberries on the commons, in hedgerows and scrubs. This year I couldn’t resist to pick some of them. When I got home, I found a recipe for ketchup based on hawthorn on Jonathan Wallace’s blog Self-sufficient in Suburbia.

Since I always have to try things a little different than stated in the recipe, I ended up making ketchup from: Hawthorn, kombucha, sugar, red wine vinegar, salt, garlic, black pepper, paprika, chilli and tarragon.

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Hawthorn Ketchup

The result was 4 glasses of hawberry ketchup. The taste is great, quite similar to tomato ketchup. This is the first time I’ve used hawberries. With this experience, I could not dream of growing tomatoes for ketchup. It is easier to go out on a nice day and pick the small berries, than it is to grow a similar number of tomatoes from seeds, taking care of them spring and summer.

The process is simple. Rinse the berries, cover them with half vinegar and half water (here I used kombucha and a little vinegar). Gently boil them 30 minutes and press them through a sieve. Kernels and stem residues remain in the sieve, out comes a beautiful red mass. The spices are added and the ketchup boiled again, then poured on scalded glasses. I immediately turn the glasses, to let the heat of the content pasteurize the lids.


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Watermelon Citrullus lanatus, my F1 hybrid (Sugar Baby x White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon).

Today we ate the first watermelon, 3kg.
It was sweet, but seeds were not all mature, so a few more days had perhaps made it even better. I also think the rind is very thick.
For me, watermelon ripeness is bit of a mystery. It does not smell aromatic, so there must be something else to look for.

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Tendril

On the clever internet, I have read that you should harvest watermelon when the tendril closest to the stalk wither. This seems to be the case.

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Yellow spot

Elsewhere on the clever internet, I have read that the bright spot where the watermelon is resting on the ground, should change colour to yellow. This has happened, but exactly how yellow should the yellow be??

One should also be able to tap and listen. I did too, and this watermelon had a much deeper quiet sound than the obvious immature watermelons crisp bright tones. But for us who do not have absolute pitch, it’s a bit difficult.

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Fresh watermelon seeds

The last method I haven’t seen on the internet. The seeds ought to be mature when the watermelon is ripe. It doesn’t seem to be the case here. Pity I couldn’t see the seeds before I harvested the watermelon.

It is easy to collect and clean the seeds. Spit them into a bowl when eating the watermelon. Afterwards, rinse them in clean water, so they’re ready to dry in a thin layer on a plate.

Will the seeds germinate next year? I believe in the darkest of the seeds will, but the lighter are probably not mature enough. I have to wait and see.


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Melon (Cucumis melo) Farthest North Melon Mix

For a while I have seen the delicate yellow male flowers in the melon bed. Today I spotted two tiny melons. Withered female flowers still attached. The dense hair is very good protection at night, when snails and slugs creep close by.

A few melon plants grow very strongly, outranking the squash sown same date. Others are still small plants. This year I sowed directly on 5th of June. It has obviously been good for the most vigorous melon plants.

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Melon bed with Farthest North Melon Mix

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One and a half month ago the melons germinated in cold weather, hails lying around


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Dead graft

In the spring I grafted an exiting wild apple on my old apple tree. Unfortunately the grafting has died, although it seemed to grow callus and connect in early summer. Did I store the twigs for grafting under bad conditions? Did I do a technically lousy grafting? Did some happy little bird clean its beak and break the graft? I don’t know, and it shall not keep me from grafting some other time. It’s funny, and does a grafting take on it’s great.

I’ve been told, that some professionals now have grafted this wild apple, to learn if it deserves to be grown in plantations or gardens. If it is a healthy tree, I’m sure we will get access to it for our gardens, at least from some of the specialised nurseries.

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Garden with a view

I revisited Merete and Ejners garden. First visit was in spring, this second visit was after the first frost. The garden is situated in a village, with a view over field and wood.

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Sage (Salvia officinalis)

The huge sage with the wrinkled stems made me think of
the oldest oak in Denmark. Age is an important dimension in our garden plants. Never saw a more beautiful sage.

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Kirsten and Merete deeply engaged in garden talk

People fond of gardening always talk a lot, when we meet in a garden. It still surprises me, how different we people can grow our gardens. Even with same plants in same climate. We ate us through the different fruit trees; cooking apples, table apples, pears, prunes, filberts and grapes.

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Old grape wine growing in the apple trees

A very old grape wine has conquered the tops of some of the apple trees. In old days there was a greenhouse around it, but since it perished, the grape wine has continued to grow with no protection. Could it be the old variety Frankenthaler?

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Leaf chicory

There still is a lot of vegetables in the garden. The leaf chicory was served for lunch – mmm…. We also had leek and a mayonnaise spiced with ‘Susan Delafield’ garlic.
Thanks for a nice day.

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Two grafting twigs from a selfseeded appletree in Pillemark on island Samsø

Late this winter I was presented with two twigs from a selfseeded appletree. I rolled them in newspaper and buried them in them shadow untill needed in april. The twigs are far from ideal grafting twigs, but if everything in life has to be perfect, we’ll miss the small secrets of life.

I’ve tried to graft on an old cooking appletree. If I succeed I’ll let you know. My grafting technique is even less perfect than the grafting twigs. However apples are supposed to be very easy to graft – I might have luck.

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The selfseeded apple from Pillemark on island Samsø

We have a huge variety of delicous apples in Denmark, and most of them are available if you search them on the internet. Blomstergården offers a lot of the old apples (in danish).
The apple from Pillemark is still interesting, as it is tastefull, probably healthy (being a child of Filippa) and it has a unique shape. We are a few who are grafting this apple – hopefully at least one will be succesfull.

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My toolbox for the purpose: Household wrapping, alcohol, rags and bast

Recipes are inspiring, but I never follow them exactly. This time I also didn’t do as supposed to, but I was still very inspired from the grafting course I attended this winter. Basicly it’s an operation on living tissue. Cleanlyness is an issue. With rags and alcohol I wiped clean the twigs, the tree and the hobbyknife (No expensive grafting knife for this little grafting). I cut small pieces of the twig where I could find the most promising buds, taking care not to pollute the wounds by touching them with my dirty fingers. I placed them in T-cuts in the old tree.

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Grafting twig placed in a T-cut

At this point I was supposed to use a special wax, hot or cold. I wrapped the wounds in household wrap instead, tying it in with bast. It was an incredibly easy solution, hope it also will do the job. At this point I thought of the curious birds. They would probably tear the twigs, so I decided to hide them in milkywhite plastic, allowing some light to the buds. Now I just have to wait, keeping mysalf away form the twigs for the next three or four weeks. Then I hope to find callus, as a sign of healing and junction in progress.

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Three grafts protected under white plastic

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