So back at Easter I was handed 3 manky looking potatoes and asked to plant them. The idea was that come our annual Harvest service we would all be able to bring along our home-grown bounty, instead of just popping out to Tesco’s the night before muttering ‘Oh bother, it’s harvest and I haven’t got anything to take’. Personally I prefer the Tescos/muttering option, but that’s because I am not a gardener.
I am SO not a gardener.
Anyway I did as I was told (more or less) Okay, I forgot the ‘banking’ bit which was apparently crucial and I duly waited to harvest my bounteous crop.
Here is it… in its entirety.
Let’s just say I was somewhat underwhelmed. I had had 3 potatoes, I buried them and now I have about 12 (there’s a Bible story in there somewhere) but it’s hardly going to keep the wolf from our door this winter nor are they going to look that impressive on the Harvest table.
Oh dear, gardening: fail.
So this week I walked past a blackberry bush in the church centre garden. I don’t know what came over me but a line from Keats did go through my head (‘Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ A Level English), the next thing I knew I was out there with a bowl picking blackberries for all I was worth having had the idea that pot of home-made jam would somehow atone for my shortcomings on the potato front.
Goodness only know why I should take it into my head that I was capable of this feat. I couldn’t make jam the last time I tried (28 years ago on honeymoon, strange thing to do on honeymoon I know, don’t ask!) and I haven’t done anything to advance my jam making skills since.
But, no matter, swept on by a naive wave of enthusiasm, buoyed up by the prospect of improving on my paltry potato performance, I set about making jam. ‘Set’ seems to be the key word in this process, hold that thought.
I chose a day when I had a million and one other things to do so I must admit I didn’t exactly watch the saucepan. The recipe didn’t actually tell me I had to so I set the timer and left it boiling….
When the appointed time came to pour it out, it all looked okay. How was I to know what it was about to do?
Within minutes it became clear I had NOT made jam, I had made ‘organic concrete’. You would not need a teaspoon to serve this jam, you would need a chisel and a hammer (and a very good dentist were you to actually eat it).
This ‘jam’ is so solid you could have used it to the lay the foundations of a house. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be taking it the Harvest service. I can’t even throw it away – there’s no way it will come out the jar! I feel so bad: jam and pot seem destined to lie deep in some landfill somewhere, where, like a radioactive deposit, they will take thousands of years to dissolve. Suggestions anyone? Bury it in the garden? Years from now archaeologists could find it fossilized and speculate on the peculiar gardening habits of 21st century woman.
Oh well, I’ll have to put it down to experience (and posterity, this jam will definitely last longer than I will). Kirsty Allsop I’m NOT but I do actually think it’s quite an achievement to have made what is effectively a huge blackberry boiled sweet when I had set out to make jam.
So when the Harvest service comes round you’ll find me in Tescos… I’ll be muttering.