The cherry blossom tree is in bloom. Now that spring is here and the sun has decided to make an appearance in Scotland everything is starting to appear again in the garden.
Once the cherries appear (too sour to eat) there’s a race on to share the spoils with the birds. I make a cherry liqueur. Not for drinking straight (unless you are my mum who likes liqueurs) but for pinking up, and sweetening up, the Christmas time champagne.
Four easy steps
The prep stage. Pick enough cherries. Pick loads of them to ensure it adds the flavour to the final product. When the birds have got there first I sometimes top mine up with some store bought ones. Then buy a good bottle of vodka, possibly a little brandy (I’m not overly prescriptive about this) and sugar.
The container is important. If you have one with those tops that seal down then great. You could always use an alternative though (possibly re-use a protein powder container). It just needs to seal and be strong enough to not explode in the cupboard.
Vodka (and a little brandy), sugar, water and the cherries! Easy. Half bottle of the vodka, half a bag of sugar and same part water to the vodka. Take off the stalks, wash the cherries first then shove it all together and stir. Then hide it and every week or so (again not overly prescriptive on this) stir gently. I do this by slowly tipping the container up and down. Then hide again.
Wait. Wait a good 4 months. I wait six to ensure it is just in time for the festive season. Then strain the liquid into the nicest bottles you can find and woo! Cherry Liqueur.
If it lasts this long then it is also perfect for the first sunny day of Spring.
I started my own vegetable patch a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back since. After the first year of growing things for the excitement (yes really!), I have now got to the point of growing only the things I will definitely eat. Being a picky person with food, this means leaves (salad, rocket, spinach), some spring onions, radishes, carrots, tomatoes and some herbs. Add in a couple of pumpkins (hopefully) and I still have the big bang excitement.
For someone who is not green fingered, at all, I have help in the form of a few keen neighbours. Its a communal garden and all are welcome to do it…me and one neighbour built our own wee slice of veg growing garden. The other keen gardener focuses on his myriad of flowers. A few others just enjoy the wine we usually consume whilst looking productive.
The how to bit
Its pretty easy. I bought a low height thingy (I honestly don’t know what it is called but got it in the garden centre) It fitted well into the little strip I dug out. Its a great alternative to a greenhouse if you aren’t wanting to grow loads of tomatoes. If you do then start off with a cheap construction (see this greenhouse for something not too pricey). A bit plastic but does the job to get started. I would definitely go online for most things but it is worth going along to somewhere like Dobbies (https://www.dobbies.com) to get some garden inspiration. If you live in Edinburgh then I would also definitely recommend Houston House garden centre. It has everything!
I also built two raised beds. They won’t last forever but if you want to avoid spending what seems like extortionate prices then buy some tongue and groove wood and a length of post. Cut that into four (DIY stores will usually do this for you) and start nailing the wood together. Easy peasy. Fill it with that base thing and ta…ra your own raised bed waiting on loads of compost / manure / mud. Paint it first though so it lasts for a wee bit longer. I did mines black. We also painted the fence black. It is a surprising nice colour in the garden as everything else pops against its.
The start up means you won’t save on that packeted salad stuff from Tesco in the first year; but you will year on year.
Its Scotland and so generally cold. But the sun has been in the sky and the cosh thingy keeps things cosy so I did my planting today. This is the satisfying bit. Just pick your veg and go for it. I did potatoes too last year in a grow bag which was great. I just didn’t eat them all. What I can add to almost everything is rocket and spinach. So today I bought a little more compost; add in a trowel and everything is in and watered.
I am now actually excited about the veg to come. There will be a day when I see little green things poking through the soil, then another when they start to get leaves on them. Hopefully the sun stays high and bright. Soon I will be nipping out to cut some leaves for my lunch and having dinner in the garden with the neighbours.