Tag Archive: grape

grapevineHere’s another profile of a food plant produced by one of the participants in the ‘Grow your Own’ course I ran at Foulsham, Norfolk.

Grape (Vitis vinifera)

Guest article by Kay Elvin

Black Hamburg  is a popular, outside, late grape that can be used for desserts or wine making.

Planting- Dig a large hole, adding plenty of farmyard manure and water well. Plant bareroot vines in winter, but containerised specimens can be planted at any season.

Location- Vines like to grow on a sunny, south or west wall. Support the vines with horizontal wires held in place by vine eyes, about 12”- 16” apart.

Grape_vinesGrowing – Allow about three stems to grow vertically during the first year. Pinch out shoots that grow from the side to one leaf. The next year in spring aim to have a shoot every 6”. When fruits appear thin out to one bunch every 12”. Remove some of the foliage to improve air flow.

 Feed with high potash. Vines can be affected by scale insects, vine weevil, downy mildew and mould. When harvesting avoid touching the fruits, cut each bunch with a ‘handle’ (2” of stem).

Beware – Do not park your car under a grape arbour- they damage the paintwork! Grapes are also poisonous to dogs.

Grapevine_leaf_-_SyrahRecipe- Grape Jam


4lb ripe grapes

1 box powdered fruit pectin

3.25 lbs sugar


Slip skins from grapes and set aside

Add 1 cup of water to pulp, bring to boil cover and simmer for 5 mins.

Press through a sieve to remove seeds.

Chop or grind skins, add to pulp.

Measure 6 cups into a very large saucepan.

Then make jam, add powdered pectin to the fruit in pan and mix well.

Bring to hard boil over high heat, stirring constantly. At once stir in the sugar.

Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring all the time.

Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon, then alternately stir and skim for 5 mins..

Cool slightly, ladle into jars, cover jam at once.

 Makes 6 half pound jars.

 For spicier jam add 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and allspice to the grapes before simmering.

Old School Gardener


So you know how it goes… a good friend says something post-Christmas about a gift they’ve given you, how they hope you liked it etc. and you think-

‘don’t remember getting that…’

It happened to me at the weekend. Friends who had kindly given me a couple of nice garden-related presents referred to some carrot seeds called ‘Nigel’ (my name for those who don’t know me). Somehow I must have missed them (let’s face it a packet of seeds can easily go missing when you’re eagerly ripping off the wrapping paper…).

So, as we missed this week’s bin collection (which happened to be the recycling one with the Christmas wrapping paper in it), I tipped out the (nearly full) contents to see if I could ‘find Nigel’. Well, suffice it to say that I was unsuccessful and came close to serious injury on can edges and other stuff in the process.

So that’s why ‘Nigel’ is plotless on at least two counts for 2013…

More successfully,  I spent a couple of hours yesterday using another cherished Christmas pressy-a pair of Felco No. 2 secateurs (a joy to use) on the grapevine and a rather overgrown Jasminum beesianum in the Old School courtyard. Here are some  images of that to accompany some of other plants looking good in the garden at present. Also the answers to the last Quizzicals and a couple of new ones…


The grapevine grows round the top of three walls in the Old School Garden courtyard. A black variety, it gives a reasonable yield , but lack of sun/ warmth in 2012 led to a dissapointing crop. Let’s hope for better this year…


Grapevine before pruning- new secateurs poised for action…


After pruning- stems cut back to one or two buds above the node.


Quizzical answers

The last two were:

Someone who stalks a 1970s Wimbledon champion-  Virginia Creeper

Four times faster than Roger Bannister- ‘Mile a Minute’

Two more to entertain you (thanks Les):

  • Private part of an old crooner
  • The organ that enables you to say ‘2 plus 2 = 4’
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