Saturday, August 30, 2008

Plum Jelly! (And Other News :)

After picking plums from the lower branches of the wild plum trees and using a ladder to reach the higher ones, I realized that doing this would still not provide enough plums for jelly. As I gazed up into the upper branches of the trees, I could see them weighed down heavily with plums. Beautiful plums. But how to reach them was the question. The only way that I could see to get them was to shake the trees, and by doing this, I was able to gather a great many more of these juicy, little fruits.


Yesterday, I made more juice with all of these and after measuring the juice out, realized that it was still about 3/4 cups short. This afternoon then, I headed out in hopes of gathering enough plums to finish out the amount of juice needed. The trees by this time were very much barer, and I was not sure if there would be enough. I shook and gathered under every plum tree that I could find, and then feeling quite hot and sweaty (as well as very bitten up by mosquitoes), I went inside to see if the meager pickings would be sufficient. The plums were crushed, placed in a saucepan with the needed amount of water and set to simmer. Once they had simmered until soft, I ladled them into a jelly bag and waited for the juice to drain out. Then it was time . . . would it be enough? The juice was poured into the measuring cup that already contained what had been made so far, and it stopped right at the 5 1/2 cup line. Exactly what was needed!


Now with enough juice, I went right into jelly making and had such a fun time! It was easier than what I had thought it would be, and now eight half-pint jars of Wild Plum Jelly are cooling on the counter. Lies ahead the real test, though . . . will it set up correctly and look and taste like jelly? We shall see! :)


Besides making plum jelly, other activities have been keeping me quite busy such as picking and putting up more corn into the freezer and also garden maintenance (pulling out the plants that are finished producing, weeding, etc.)

The fall garden is doing well (except for certain lettuce and carrot plants that the grasshoppers have been enjoying. :), and I am looking forward to eating fresh peas, lettuce, carrots and beets from the garden! (The beans are being grown for a friend.)

The Growing Peas

Work on the chicken coop has also been continuing . . .

In progress (photo taken several days ago)

By yesterday evening, the pen and the lower portion of the coop was to the point that we could move the chickens to their new 'home' which we did (the upper portion will be finished off for storage).

All that is left is finishing the roof and a good coat of paint! Any guesses what color we will be using?

The chickens are greatly enjoying their new pen! (Though, they were not so sure about the coop at first. :)

Enjoying the shade and the sand

10 comments:

  1. Jelly is SO much fun to make! A wild grape grows here in OK that is called a 'opossum grape". Opossum grape jelly doesn't sound very appetizing, but it sure is good!!! =D

    I noticed that you don't grow your peas on a trellis. This was my first year to grow peas. I have them in my fall garden by a trellis(they are just now sprouting), but in the spring I did not. Do you have an opinion of whether or not they should be on a trellis?

    Hannah

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  2. Cool! I hope the jelly turns out well for you.

    The peas look great; mine haven't come up yet.

    I guess red paint. ...Or will it be neon green? :) Your chicken coop looks WONDERFUL. How long have y'all been working on it?

    ~Amber

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  3. That is an interesting name for a grape, Hannah! And while I would agree that it is not the most appetizing sounding ;), I am sure that it is delicious! Have you made some this year?

    I had wondered if anyone would notice the lack of a trellis by the peas! :) The peas in the photo are sugar snap peas and are not a bush variety so I will be trellising them . . . I just have not been able to put it up yet. (I hope to within the next few days, though. :)

    In the spring, we grew a bush variety of shell peas in a block planting (a few feet by a few feet) and did not trellis at all. They seemed to produce well; though, I had nothing to compare it to as this is my first year growing peas also! This fall we are growing shell peas again (though a different variety), and are trying them in a wide row that is two feet wide. It will be interesting to see how the different plantings go! So as to an opinion of whether to trellis or not . . . I really cannot say as this is new ground for me, too! :)

    How did your peas that you grew this past spring do without a trellis? I hope that your fall planting of peas grow and produce very well for you!

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  4. We already tried some of the jelly, Amber, and it was good! I was thrilled about that! (When I canned the jelly there was some left over after filling the jars that were prepared, so I just put it in the fridge and that is what we ate this evening. :)

    With all the rain that you received, I am sure that your peas will be popping up soon!

    Neon green? That would certainly be interesting! Your first guess would be correct . . . good, old-fashioned, traditional barn red. :) Complete with white trim. Work on the coop has been going on for some time (though, I cannot remember when it was started). A little bit here and a little bit there as the weather and time permitted. My Dad and Ryan were able to get quite a bit accomplished on it today . . . we are looking forward to having it finished!

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  5. Wow, you sure do seem to get allot accomplished in one day Sarah!

    The chicken coop is going to be so neat painted red! I do hope that the chickens appreciate it! :o) What kind of chickens do you have?

    I've never had plum jelly but I'm sure it's really good.
    ~Ashley

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  6. Dear Hannah,

    I hope Sarah doesn't mind my jumping in, but I just thought I'd mention that we've grown several varieties of peas, both with and without trellises, and we think that trellises are great.

    In our experience, there is a very slight decrease in production when the peas are left to trail on the ground, but the biggest factor that influences my vote is ease in picking! There is a HUGE difference. Picking peas from a trellis is so much easier on your back and arms, and they are easier to see, too, so you don't miss many.

    The spring, we grew some peas just to help our soil by the increase in nitrogen, which peas add to the soil. Because they weren't planned to be a major producer, Dad said we wouldn't bother to put in a trellis, except for in one bed. Later, however, we decided to harvest the peas so we wouldn't be wasting anything, and then I sure wished we had used a trellis in every bed!!!!:):):)

    ~Amber

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  7. Plum jelly sounds wonderful! :) Thats neat that it turned out to be exactly the right amount for the recipe!! :)

    Your new chicken coop looks very nice!!

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  8. Sometimes, I do, Ashley! But then there are other days where it seems like nothing worthwhile is accomplished!

    Our chickens are Gold Laced and Silver Laced Wyandottes. Leah had done a great deal of research on breeds of chickens to try to find ones that would best suit our needs and also ones that we liked the looks of. The Wyandottes with being a dual purpose breed seemed the best choice! So far, we are quite pleased with them. :)

    The plum jelly was good! And now I wish that we had more plums so I could make some more . . . the 8 half-pints probably will not last very long! :)

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  9. Thank you for sharing from your experiences with peas and trellises, Amber! I for one appreciated it. :) It will be interesting to see how the wide row of peas does that we planted . . . we may decide, like you, to use a trellis with them next time! Thank you again for sharing!

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  10. Yes, it was nice that the juice was the right amount for the jelly, Emily! I was surprised!

    Thank you for the comment regarding the chicken coop! Dad, Ryan and Leah have been doing such a great job with it. :)

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)