We’re back! Not a whole lot happens in my garden during the winter – I know there are things I could do, but if we’re being honest, it’s cold, it’s dark and I don’t rely on the garden to actually live. I don’t even feel bad about it. I leave it all alone and creatures get to live in the piles of stuff, like the leaves and the compost, without being disturbed.
That being said, there are a couple of things that are unavoidable. The first was pruning the apple trees, which were getting a little bit out of hand. I like the top of the trees to be just about within my reach, so every year I give them a little trim. This year was a bit more drastic as I took out a whole branch – eek – but it was starting to cross with another branch, so its time had come. I did a whole load of research before I started hacking away at the trees. I started with the dead wood (not a lot of that) and then dealt with the branches which were crossing, rubbing or weak, followed by strong shoots heading towards the middle of the tree. Finally, there were some parts which were seriously congested. I used the RHS guide here and, as everyone wll tell you, you’re aiming for a goblet shape, open in the middle. Good luck! I think you’re unlikely to do lasting damage (unless you REALLY go for it); I’m always a bit nervous before I start pruning, so I just remind myself that the worst I’m likely to do is have a few less apples this year, but the reward is lots more fruit if you get it right!
Aside from that, and eating the brussels sprouts out of the garden, I’ve been planning the garden for 2021 – more on that later – and making rhubarb and raspberry gin! The rhubarb and raspberries are last year’s harvest and were taking up far too much space in the freezer. As with anything I do in the kitchen, I read a few different recipes, took a bit of an average, was accurate for the first go and then totally winged it for the rest. There’s this Waitrose recipe, something similar from BBC Good Food and another from Ruth Creates. Read a few to get the gist, don’t worry too much about having exactly the right sugar (I just used granulated white sugar) and then shove it in bottles for a couple of weeks. I like mine with lemonade, but to be honest, it’s so syrupy and sweet that you could drink it neat quite happily.
Things are starting to appear, spring is on the way but it has been FLIPPING cold the last couple of weeks, so I’ve also been enjoying the frozen shapes.