At the end of summer hedgerows can offer plenty of foraging opportunities with bramble, elder and rose all fruiting. You can preserve these for the winter as jam or jelly. With Elderberries and Rosehips you’ll need to remove the seeds but blackberries can be used whole for jam. Have a go, you’ll need 1kg of fruit to 1kg of preserving sugar and a lemon.
Basic instructions below or you can find plenty of recipes online to experiment with!
- Add fruit to a large pan with a little water and lemon juice. Heat gently until the fruit starts to get very soft (around 15mins).
- While this is happening pop a small plate in the freezer to cool and clean jam jars (without lids) in the oven.
- Add sugar and allow to dissolve, then turn up the heat to bring to the boil – this mixture will get very hot!
- Bubble until setting point is reached (about 10mins). To test if the jam will set. Put a small amount on your prepared cold plate and allow to cool. If the cooled jam wrinkles when you push into it then it’s setting and ready. If it stays runny then bubble for a little longer and repeat the cold plate test.
- Allow to cool a little and then ladle into pre-warmed sterile jars, cover and add lids. You may want to remove the bits to make jelly by straining first!
Safety Note – it’s important to warm the jars to prevent them from shattering when you ladle in your fresh jam!
Getting creative with Jam Jars and Twine…
There are lots of great Macrame projects out there but we wanted to have a go at a hanging jam jar for a house plant. If you’d like to have a try here’s what we did…
- Materials: Garden twine, jar, and a pair of scissors
- Cut four long lengths of twine and put them in pairs
- As we wanted it to sit flat as well as hang up we started with a box knot at the bottom by looping the two sets of twine over and under each other (3).
- Click here for a diagram of the box knot (Though you can also tie 8 long strands into a simple knot that leaves a tassel at the bottom if you prefer).
- Once the knot is set out gently tighten the stands.
- It should form a square or box knot to go at the base of the jar.
- Stick with sellotape or ask someone to hold in place while you knot each set of two strands at the edge of the jar.
- Separate the pairs a knot each to a strand from the next pair over with the knot tightening further up the side of the jar.
- Continue this process all around the jar.
- Your last knots should be near the rim. From there you can tie the strands together at the top, possibly looping them around first.
What do community gardens offer?
We support two community gardens. One at Almondbury Library and the other at Dalton Library. We love these peaceful spaces with a mix of edible and ornamental plants, open for all to enjoy. They offer a space to garden, be mindful, and find community but to hear independent views on what they offer take a look at the clips and quotes below…
“I like to visit after a stressful day at work. It’s quiet and relaxing”
“It’s nice to see people from a distance while your here gardening, wave hello. You get a sense of community here”
Home Made Plant Food and Mulch…
In this video chat Rachel and Kim discuss feeding and mulching for free using common plants and garden waste. All great for the garden, the gardening budget and of course the environment! Check out the link below…
Splitting a potted mint plant
Mint is often best grown in pots because of it’s spreading habit. You can sometimes find though that the plant spreads to the edges leaving an empty space in the middle. This is a great time to re-pot and produce new plants.
Here is the Mint once it’s had a chance to regrow and a picture of a cutting from our Chocolate Mint that was rooted in water, another way to increase your plants for free.
Controlling Slugs without poison…
So everything is growing brilliantly in the sunshine, lettuces are looking great, seedlings are appearing, but then overnight – devastation. It’s so disappointing when the slugs make a feast of your crops. There are a number of things that you can try without using slug pellets. Have a listen to Rachel chatting with Kim about alternative ways to control the slug damage.
Bug House Fun…
Encourage garden friends like lacewings and Ladybirds with a new bug house. We found materials on our walks and in the garden to make a few using a teasel stem, old dock flower stems, bamboo canes, wood, moss and leaves. See what you can find and get creative!
Children – make sure your have a responsible adult on hand to help you with any tools you might need to use, but if you don’t want to use tools, then creating a bug hotel in a quiet corner of the garden just requires artfully piled up materials with plenty of nooks and crannies for those bugs and mini beasts. Find out more about how this helps our wildlife by clicking here…
Have a go at making a Jam Jar terrarium! All you’ll need is a clean jar, some mud/compost, a small plant and possibly some stones for decoration. We’ve made ours using a ‘weed’ growing in one of the plant pots. After all it’s only a weed because it’s in the wrong place! We have found beautiful ferns and moss growing in cracks in the path and on garden walls that are all great for these little gardens.
- Put a few stones in the bottom of your jam jar for drainage and decoration.
- Add a layer of soil.
- Make space for your chosen plant.
- Firm the plant into place.
- Add a few stones to the top for decoration.
To keep indoors you’ll need a shady windowsill where they won’t get too hot. Outside they don’t have drainage so you’ll have to shelter them from rain. You could have a go with houseplants as well!
Making a Dogwood Fish…
Stems of cutback Dogwood are great for weaving! We have been using these instead of twine, for making small plant supports, and for decoration. If you’d like to try making a small fish then follow the instructions below.
- Take your first Dogwood stem and gently bend all along the length following it’s natural curve.
- At the mid point bend more tightly around your thumb to make what will be the nose of the fish. Look at how the stem can make a fish shape, crossing the ends over each other.
- With the thin tip of your next stem slot this under one side and out over the other side of the nose.
- Bend long end of new stem around the first stem back through the middle to get to the other side.
- The long end needs winding around the other side and back through the middle of the fish.
- Repeat winding from side to side.
- Cross the ends of the original stem over each other again to see your fish shape. You can continue filling in with weaving or if you are happy with the half weave then you can start the tail.
- As you did at the beginning, put the thin end of a fresh stem across one end through the middle and out the other side.
- Gently wind this around as before and back through to the other side.
- Keep weaving to fill the tail section of your fish.
- Fish complete – trim long ends leaving a little space for the stems to shrink slightly.
We’ve been making so many fish and stars that we had enough to decorate our pea support…
For star weave instructions click here
Gallery & Videos
Please enjoy our videos of SPROUT around Kirklees:
This one was put together by the talented Bethany McAspurn at Wide Eyed Girl Productions.
This was put together by Sprout participants with the support of Jack Masterson.