The Wonderful World of Jam

This week has been absolutely rubbish, and I look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards. Literally.

Three of my closest friends are departing my life, and Tavistock. I will forgive Max. He is embarking on a moneyless pilgrimage across Britain, to spread the word about “Peace One Day“. Jeremy Gilley has pushed for a day of Peace, on the 21st September, for 10 years now. This year will hopefully be the largest global reduction of violence on one day, ever recorded. It is an incredible opportunity for UN agencies and humanitarian organisations, to enter war zones, and immunize children. 4.5 million children in Afghanistan have benefited from immunizations on Peace One Day, since 2007. Can you imagine being a child who has known nothing but a lifetime of war, and then experiencing peace? And if one day is conceivable, then why not two?

So I guess I can forgive Max. The others shall be saved for a good long diary rant, rather than the internet!

The reason I have looked like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards, is because I have. Once the leaves finally crept out on my hedge, I discovered that half of it was dead, and covered in Ivy. It was privet, but I decided not to plant more privet, just so that it matches the rest of the hedge. I’ve spent a few months thinking about the best way to provide privacy for my chickens, and have decided that Gorse would be the best permaculture plan. Gorse (Ulex Europeus), is loved by bees and butterflies for its lovely yellow flowers and coconut smell. It also has a very long flowering season, which makes me love it. It grows well on poor rocky soil (like on top of my wall), and it is nitrogen-fixing, so will have a beneficial relationship on the other plants around it. It is particularly prickly, and if I am lucky, it may detract people who think it appropriate to leave their rubbish in my hedge.

So I spent a lot of the week pulling out dead hedging, and planting my new gorse. I then broke the dead hedge up into little bits and put it into boxes for firewood.

Then, a friend came round with a tub of gooseberries for me, from their garden! What a lovely gift! The vegetable shop in town had given me some rhubarb which was going soft and they couldn’t sell, so I got my jam pot out. I put my music on loud, I poured myself a glass of wine (it is Sunday and my daughter is away with her dad – this is very acceptable behaviour), and I shoved a bunch of dead hedge into my wood-burning-stove. It roared. I topped and tailed the gooseberries, chopped up the rhubarb with a squish of lime, added an equal weight in sugar, and chucked it all the in the pot on top of the stove.

This was my “permaculture in a nutshell” for the day. Permaculture is about looking at systems, and re-designing them. What are your inputs and outputs? How can you integrate them, so that you have no leakages in your system? My hedge was dead, so I used it to cook my jam and heat my house (which shouldn’t be necessary in the middle of June, but sadly, it is). I will now put the wood ash back onto the soil where the gorse has been planted, to add nutrients and phosphorous, thus helping the hedge to grow quickly. The waste food from the shop has been preserved rather than binned, using the energy from the dead hedge. I always use second hand glass jars for preserving, which is another output which I intercept. And now I have jam to feed myself and my daughter, or to barter with. I will probably give a jar to the friend who brought me gooseberries, and a jar to the shop-keeper who gives me boxes of limp vegetables “for my chickens” every week.

When you are sad because your friends are leaving you, making jam is a really healing process. There is a reason why my blog is called The House Of Jam.


About thehouseofjam

I am a Trustee/Director of the Permaculture Association of Britain, and I make jam with wild food. Lots of it!
This entry was posted in Bartering, chickens, Food, Gardening, jam, Low Impact living, Permaculture, philosophy, Produce no waste, Self Sufficiency, Tavistock, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Wonderful World of Jam

  1. Sounds like a good plan with the hedging Rebecca. I have the opposite problem, a healthy box hedge I’d rather was something else, but which forms an important windbreak (& privacy screen from the neighbours) at the moment – why I haven’t done anything about it yet.

    • Thanks Aranya! I’ve had a lot of people (non permaculturists) raise eye brows at my decision to use Gorse, so it’s good to know that you think it was a good plan.

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