pic from Bealtaine Cottage

This is my favourite time of year and probably just as busy for me on the plot as Spring. In an unusual burst of organised forward planning, I have been sowing lots of hardy annuals into a new *cutting garden* section of the plot and dividing a lot of plants in the herbaceous borders. And in between times there’s always room for a spot of chutney making and a forage around the misty lanes for a few freebie goodies.

It has been a pretty rubbish season for fruit round here – excepting an abundance of Autumn fruiting raspberries and my trusty Falstaff apple tree. No quinces. Hardly any pears. And in the lanes the season has gone a bit bonkers too. I could still harvest blackberries  except that tradition tells me not to pick them after Michaelmas. The elderberries have come in two distinct batches this year and whilst some rose hips have been and gone there are plenty still to be gathered.

I’m quite keen on rosehips – this year especially – as I am in the process of finalising a *Dig for Victory* workshop for primary schools. Having built the odd Anderson shelter and planted up a few wartime allotments in the past, the BBC2 programme *Wartime Farm* has spurred me into action. Next year marks the seventieth anniversary of when family allotments were at their most productive in the UK. And now seems like the perfect time to spread the word about how easy and cheap it is to grow or forage at least some of your own food. So we’ll be following in the footsteps of our wartime ancestors all year.

Rose-hips contain twenty times more vitamin C than the same weight of oranges. So it’s not surprising that the syrup was  given to babies and young children during World War Two. Here’s how to bottle all that goodness for the year to come.

Rose-hip Syrup

2lb ripe rose-hips

6 pints water

1lb sugar

Wash, pick over and remove stalks from the rosehips. Then mince them. Add to pan with 4 pints boiling water, bring back to boil then remove from heat.

Allow the mixture to stand for 15 minutes then strain through a jelly bag or muslin.Return the pulp to pan with 2 pints boiling water, bring to boil, remove and stand for 10 minutes, then strain through a jelly bag.

Next day mix both juices together. You should have about  2 pints. Add sugar, stir until dissolved and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Pour into small sterlised bottles and seal. use within four months.