Juicy Fruits The Edible Garden


Juicy Fruits

Alys Fowler tries to avoid shop-bought fruit and veg and live off home-grown produce. Alys grows some juicy fruits and makes jams, tangy fruit leathers and apple rings.


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Transcript


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'I'm Alys Fowler.

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'I'm a gardener and a writer.

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'I grew up in the countryside

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'but now my husband and I live in the city.

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'I get pleasure from simple things -

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'my chickens and home-grown food.'

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Two happy hens a handful of herbs.

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'And making things from what I find around me.'

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Oh, wow! See?

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'This is my garden -

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'a small Victorian terrace back yard,

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'around 20 foot by about 60.'

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Isabel, don't pee there!

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'This year, I'm experimenting.

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'I'm trying to avoid shop-bought fruit and veg and live off my own, home-grown produce.

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'But this won't be easy because I want my garden

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'to be as productive as it is beautiful.'

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Mmm. They're delicious.

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'Each week, I'll focus on different foods -

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'from runner beans to strawberries, apples to cucumbers, and even

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'edible flowers and show how anyone can grow,

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'cook and eat from their own garden,

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'even if you live in a city.'

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When planning my pretty and productive garden,

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I knew if I didn't devote most of it to growing vegetables, we'd starve.

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But I still wanted an island of indulgence too, and that meant fruit.

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Fruit, particularly soft fruit, is a costly luxury

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bought from the shops and yet nothing could be simpler to grow.

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You plant it and you sit back and wait.

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In my limited space,

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I want to squeeze strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants

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alongside the apple tree that I've inherited,

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and I'm growing some fruit in pots for easy picking.

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Unlike vegetables, which you can pick within weeks,

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fruit requires a bit of patience.

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But it's worth the wait because you reap the rewards for years to come.

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And that's the point about fruit. Once you get them established,

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they are the most rewarding thing that you can put into your garden.

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Although it is a bit of an investment -

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you don't get much on year one -

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it's year two, three and in the case of an apple tree,

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generations to come, that makes them so worthwhile.

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It doesn't matter how small your space is, you really can fit fruit into it.

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And it's not just about walking to the bottom of your garden and eating

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a fresh apple, or that first, fresh, ripe strawberry of the season.

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It's how you process the fruit so that you can have it all year round that matters.

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And I want to show how you can preserve fruit, home-grown

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or shop-bought, by turning it into jam, or rich fruity liqueurs,

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delicious, dried fruit leathers or sweet dried apple rings.

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One of my favourite fruits has to be raspberries -

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a little luxury that bursts into flavour on the tongue.

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There are two types of raspberries -

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those that fruit in July and those that fruit in September.

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I'm growing the autumn-fruiting sort in my garden.

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I've already got some raspberry canes growing on my fence

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and late winter is the time when they need attention.

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It's time to prune the autumn-fruiting raspberries.

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They are by far the most simple thing to prune,

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because all you need to do is, in February, cut them back about

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ten centimetres, 15 centimetres from the ground.

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Then you cut all the canes back, like that.

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They will send up new canes,

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and that is what you will pick raspberries off in autumn.

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So you just chop the whole lot down, and that's it, job done.

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'However, I want to start enjoying my raspberries as early in the year as I possibly can,

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'so there's a little trick I know

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'to make some of my autumn-fruiting raspberries fruit early.'

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If you cut half of the canes down but leave half up,

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the ones that you leave will continue to go.

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Because they have a head start, these guys will fruit in July.

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You can't leave these canes and just never cut them,

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because you exhaust the plant.

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You cut one half one year, and the other year you flip it around

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and cut the other half back in February.

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So these ones will fruit in September,

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these ones will fruit in July.

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But my established raspberries won't give me the harvest I want,

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so I'm taking this opportunity to plant more.

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I've bought these autumn-fruiting canes from my local garden centre

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and I just pop them into the ground,

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making sure all of their spidery roots are covered with soil.

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A thick layer of multi-purpose compost will give them the early food they need.

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Then regular watering will be all they want in order to flourish.

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Everyone loves strawberries and I'm no exception.

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I'm growing mine both in the garden borders and in pots.

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It's very easy to make a strawberry happy.

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All you really need is to give it a lot of light.

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They like a good amount of sun.

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They can take a degree of dappled shade,

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but they need sun to ripen those beautiful red fruit.

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And if you have strawberries in your garden, you have them for life,

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because they are constantly spreading themselves around.

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It's quite easy...

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..to start off new ones, just by separating them.

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Strawberries tend to be not terribly long-lived.

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After about five years, they've kind of done as much as they can in terms of producing fruit.

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But as long as you keep dividing them,

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you will always have new plants,

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and I can't imagine a garden without strawberries.

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They are the taste of an English summer.

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For me, there's one fruit that reminds me of my Canadian family

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and that's eating blueberries on cornflakes for breakfast.

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They're also bursting with vitamin C, so all in all a must for my back garden fruit patch.

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But to grow successfully, you need to follow a few simple rules.

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Blueberries come from North America and in the wild,

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they grow in very acidic conditions.

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Like most people,

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I don't have acidic soil, but I'm not going to let that worry me.

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I'm planting two blueberry bushes in this old tin bath, filled with peat-free compost.

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And trust me, they'll thrive as long as I do three things.

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You keep them in the sun.

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You make sure that the compost is incredibly moist,

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which is why this bathtub is good. although it does have drainage,

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it holds a lot of moisture in the soil.

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Then, twice a year, I add rotted pine needles to the soil.

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And the pine needles are just acidic enough to keep them happy.

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The last thing to know about them is, they are much happier in pairs.

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If you just grow one blueberry on its own, you will get a crop, but it will be a very modest one.

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If you grow two, you have more cross pollinating opportunities and then you get bumper crops.

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May is a mad time in the garden.

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I'm constantly planting out young vegetables and then watering.

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But because I'm packing my fruit, flowers and vegetables together, I'm in danger of overcrowding.

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And that means suffocating shade that will strangle my seedlings

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and stop my fruit ripening.

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Time to be ruthless.

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One of the problems with this garden

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is that some things are really, really well established

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and they are kind of out-competing others.

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Which means...

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I've got lots of clipping and pruning

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that I constantly need to do.

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As well as in pots, I'm growing most of my fruit in a small four by six

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foot space at the bottom of the garden, underneath my apple tree.

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Move, Iz', move.

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This is my prize at the end of the brick road.

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It's a small strawberry patch, so that I can come and sit

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in the afternoon sun and pick strawberries.

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And it's part of my...

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small and slightly rule-breaking forest garden,

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which is the idea that you mimic the natural forest ecology.

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So you have under-storey ground-cover plants like the strawberries,

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and then you have the raspberries,

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which are doing really well this year.

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And then some currants, which are the next storey up.

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And then you have an even bigger storey, which is the tree.

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And everything within it is supposed to be edible,

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but I sort of broke those rules and...

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I went for pretty things instead!

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I've got apples, which is very exciting.

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The beauty of the blossom is over, but it's served its vital purpose -

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to attract insect travellers laden with pollen from neighbouring fruit trees.

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That's the key to a bountiful harvest -

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fruit trees need pollinating partners.

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Whilst growing fruit offers very few problems,

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you can suffer from gluts,

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as many things seem to ripen at the same time.

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And that's where preserving comes in.

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One ingenious way of keeping fruit

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is to dry it into leathers - chewy sheets of sweet,

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intensely flavoured fruit which are simple to make.

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Mina Tahir lives in a flat in the outskirts of Bristol

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and she makes her fruit leathers with wild fruit that she forages for

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in and around her local neighbourhood.

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Sheer abundance of fruit up there, and mushrooms, and greens.

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It really is quite astonishing.

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There have been times when I've gone for weeks, eating all my meals consisting of wild foods,

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with the odd eggs and pasta and rice thrown in,

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but consisting really of just wild fruits and veg and all sorts.

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Today, I'm going to pick some plums

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that I'm going to use to make fruit leathers.

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These are bullaces - the smallest of the wild plums.

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These particular ones taste an awful lot like Victoria plums.

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To make fruit leathers, the fruit needs to be stewed, so that it becomes really soft.

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You only really use the pulp.

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Once the fruit has been softened,

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it needs to be passed through a sieve if you've got one.

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This is the bullace leather.

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It's a really unappetising colour,

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but it tastes absolutely fantastic.

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You can sweeten it to taste.

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I'm using icing sugar, because it dissolves faster.

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You need to spread the pulp out evenly,

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so it all dries at the same rate.

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Mina is using a specialist dehydrator, but I spread mine

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onto a non-stick baking tray and pop it into the oven on its lowest temperature for around eight hours.

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It's best if you leave the fan on.

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It goes really shiny, slightly tacky to the touch

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and then you peel it off.

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It's really bendy.

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To store it, all you do is tear it up...

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..into strips. Let's try a bit first.

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Once it's dry, the flavours really intensify,

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then it's absolutely amazing.

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You get to experience the fruit in a completely different way to the way you'd normally experience it.

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There isn't anywhere I haven't foraged.

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On roadsides, in the middle of cities...

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There's always stuff there if you know how to look

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and what to look for.

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But it's not just foraged berries that make great leathers.

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Raspberries, apples,

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in fact all your garden-grown fruit are just as delicious.

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After an unseasonably hot May,

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a very wet June arrives, making the garden look incredibly lush.

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Whilst my salads and vegetables need constant picking,

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my fruit crops are still proving no bother at all.

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And what's more, I've got my very first harvest.

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The first strawberry of the season.

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And to the many to come.

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But not everything is looking as good as my strawberries.

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Underneath my apple tree in my little forest garden,

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my blackcurrant is suffering and I'm afraid it's entirely my own fault.

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Because I was greedy and I wanted blackcurrants last year,

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I didn't pay any attention to the rules,

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which is you plant the blackcurrant in autumn or spring

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and then you chop it back, and you are ruthless.

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You say, "I will not have any blackcurrants on my first year."

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Then you get a lot of really strong, healthy growth,

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and then the next year you get a bumper crop.

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But because I was greedy and I wanted the blackcurrants,

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I thought, "Ah, it's probably one of those old-fashioned rules."

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And this year, I suffer, with a pathetic crop.

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So, anyhow, I might get a breakfast out of this if I'm lucky.

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The beauty of an edible and pretty garden is that you get to enjoy it

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and eat from it on a midsummer morning like this.

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And it's such a treat to gather a home-grown breakfast.

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Did you lay any eggs? Ah, thank you very much!

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It's late August. Most apple trees ripen in October, but my little tree

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is an early-fruiting variety called Discovery.

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You can tell if an apple's ready or not because

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when you tip them up...

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if they come off, they're ripe,

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and if they don't, they need to stay on just that bit longer.

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And it has the most beautiful child's-drawing red apples.

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But unfortunately, it's not a storer.

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You almost have to eat them straight off the tree.

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They're very sweet. They're just amazing, incredibly crisp.

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I've got too many to eat in one go, but one clever way to preserve

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their deliciously sweet flavour is to turn them into dried apple rings.

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Now, it's really simple.

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You just...

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..take out the middle.

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And then they need to be about a quarter of an inch thick.

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And then immediately into slightly salty water,

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because this keeps their colour.

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And discard any bruised bits or...

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..insect-damaged bits,

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because they immediately seem to start rotting on the cane.

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Do you like the apple?

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You're a funny dog!

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Do you want more?

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And the only other trick I've found is if you rub a little bit of sunflower or olive oil

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on the cane first, then it stops them from sticking onto the cane.

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You can make apple rings with any eating-apple variety.

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Just hang them in a warm place to dry

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and after two to three days they'll be ready.

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They should store for months in an airtight container.

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Mm, they're delicious.

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The other great thing about fruit gluts

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is they make perfect give-away gifts.

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For me, the long-standing tradition of crop swapping

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is due for a comeback.

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So when my friend Emily's mum announced a damson glut, it was

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time to pay a visit with a carton of Alice B and Gertrude's eggs.

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-Here are some eggs in return for damsons.

-Thank you very much indeed.

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-Come on in.

-Cheers.

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-Hello!

-Hi!

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Cor, they all are up here, aren't they?

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Damsons are a delicious, tangy plum,

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great for all types of preserving and not often found in supermarkets,

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so if you don't have a neighbour with a tree or a farmer

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who'll bring them to market, try using plums as an alternative.

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My God, you've got tons!

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The rich, fruity flavour of damsons

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is really good infused with vodka to make a delicious sweet liqueur.

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So back at home, my friends and I set about making damson vodka.

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It's quite satisfying.

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It's a nice job. I like it.

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You start by pricking the skins

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to allow the flavour of the flesh to infuse with the vodka.

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The rich colour that follows comes from the skins.

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We're putting the sugar in here, and then we're going to put them in the pots?

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And then we'll just wash it out with vodka. It'll be fine in the end.

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For every pound of fruit add a pound of sugar to a litre bottle of vodka.

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Measurement, measurement!

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As you can see, it doesn't have to be an exact science.

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Smells lovely.

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Leave it to steep in an airtight jar

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and within three months it will be ripe to drink.

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I'm using the rest of the damsons to make a damson cheese.

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It's not really a cheese, it's more like a jam.

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My mum makes it every year, and I'm recreating her recipe.

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Put six pounds of damsons into a large saucepan with half a pint of water.

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Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for about half an hour

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on a low heat until the damsons are soft.

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Pour through a sieve to puree the fruit and remove the stones.

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You'll need to add a pound of sugar to a pound of puree

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and let it dissolve.

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I think jam's much like preserving anything,

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because it's this idea that you have a cupboard full of...

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a season...

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..and that somehow makes you feel

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really safe.

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And that it's brightly coloured's quite good, as well.

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Keep stirring until the mixture becomes very thick,

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almost like a treacle so it comes away from the side

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and then pour it into sterilised jars or moulds.

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Mm!

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Because damsons are kind of naturally quite tart...

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it's not as sweet as you think it's going to be.

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It's perfect, actually.

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Damson cheese makes a delicious accompaniment

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to yoghurt or strong cheeses,

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so I'm giving away my spare pots as Christmas presents.

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Consider them bottled love.

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And to make my gifts pretty, I want to customise them.

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I've heard about a Japanese leaf printing technique called hapazome.

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Late September arrives, and with it, leaves of a scarlet hue.

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Come on, Iz!

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I have a plan to print jam-pot covers using nature's bounty.

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My friend Grace is a hapazome expert,

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so she's joined me at my local park to gather our raw materials.

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So, what are the best leaves to look for?

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Well, you can have a go with any leaves, but the best leaves are

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ones with interesting shapes and, obviously, interesting colour variation at this time of year.

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So you don't want to get leaves that have dried out, basically.

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If it crinkles and breaks up, that's not good.

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There's going to be no moisture in there, and it's not going to come out on the fabric.

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The lovely thing about this is the zigzag on the edge of the leaf.

0:22:550:22:58

Hopefully, you'll be able to get...

0:22:580:23:00

..to get all that definition.

0:23:000:23:02

You could easily get quite a leaf fetish, couldn't you?

0:23:120:23:15

Come on, Iz! Come on!

0:23:150:23:17

For our leaf prints, we've chosen fleshy leaves

0:23:190:23:22

with vibrant colours and strong shapes,

0:23:220:23:24

like ferns and pine needles.

0:23:240:23:26

And I've also picked some marigolds and violas from my garden.

0:23:270:23:31

-Do you think I'll get it on the same stalk here or not?

-Give it a go.

0:23:320:23:36

I mean, give it a whack and just...

0:23:360:23:38

The technique is straightforward enough,

0:23:400:23:43

but the choice of fabric does matter.

0:23:430:23:45

Natural fibres work best, because they easily absorb the colour that seeps from the leaves.

0:23:450:23:50

OK. Are you ready?

0:23:520:23:54

Right, yes, I'm ready. Oh, wow.

0:23:540:23:58

See? You can get good effects.

0:23:580:24:01

God, that's beautiful. All the veins in it!

0:24:010:24:04

It's amazing, the detail, isn't it?

0:24:040:24:07

It's just gorgeous the way it's such a different relief,

0:24:070:24:10

the way the stem creates the different thing on each side.

0:24:100:24:13

When totally dry, iron the material to fix the plant dye.

0:24:150:24:20

That is really beautiful.

0:24:200:24:21

Oh, wow. See?

0:24:230:24:26

Lovely.

0:24:260:24:27

My early-fruiting apple tree is over.

0:24:350:24:37

However, there are neglected apple trees

0:24:370:24:40

across the country, in woodlands, parks and country lanes,

0:24:400:24:44

all offering their own windfall gifts.

0:24:440:24:46

Thankfully, most apple varieties ripen in October

0:24:460:24:49

and that's when you're likely to get gluts.

0:24:490:24:52

-Isabel!

-SHE WHISTLES

0:24:560:24:58

Izzy! Thank you.

0:24:580:25:01

So, this orchard is on a bit of land which is connected to my local park,

0:25:050:25:09

and I always think it's such a shame

0:25:090:25:11

to think of all this fruit just rotting because nobody can be bothered to go and pick it.

0:25:110:25:16

And I've been allowed to pick up all the windfalls.

0:25:160:25:20

And the great thing about windfalls is

0:25:200:25:23

you wouldn't exactly want to eat this,

0:25:230:25:25

but it's perfectly good for juicing.

0:25:250:25:28

So you can use all sorts of

0:25:280:25:30

less-than-perfect apples.

0:25:300:25:34

There are so many apples here!

0:25:340:25:36

It's great!

0:25:380:25:39

So my plan is to offer a free apple-pressing service

0:25:430:25:46

to all those who have more apples than they can shake a stick at.

0:25:460:25:50

And I'm doing it at my local farmers' market.

0:25:530:25:57

I'm joined by my friend Syd and his home-made apple press.

0:26:040:26:08

There's a bit wedged in one corner, actually.

0:26:080:26:11

The apple crusher is powered by an electric drill

0:26:140:26:17

and the apple press, by two car jacks.

0:26:170:26:19

The aim is to slowly squeeze the pulp between our wooden boards

0:26:270:26:30

and then reap the liquid rewards.

0:26:300:26:33

But it seems everyone's got a crush on our crusher.

0:26:360:26:40

Faced with its new-found fame, it's gone into meltdown.

0:26:400:26:43

Yeah, it's still running.

0:26:490:26:51

We're slightly oversubscribed,

0:26:550:26:58

and it's meant that we've broken the machine!

0:26:580:27:01

So this bit is going to have to be done by hand.

0:27:020:27:04

-Oh, it's good.

-Yeah?

0:27:130:27:14

I've been effortlessly gathering fruits from my garden since June.

0:27:230:27:26

Yet, five months on, and I still have one lingering treat.

0:27:260:27:30

It's November, and I'm still picking raspberries.

0:27:300:27:33

Now, really, autumn-fruiting raspberries probably only produce

0:27:330:27:37

into October, it's just that it's been so unbelievably mild.

0:27:370:27:42

Traditionally, you used to wire your raspberries in so they stood upright like this.

0:27:430:27:49

But I actually don't think there's any point

0:27:490:27:52

unless space is a real issue, because if you let them hang over,

0:27:520:27:55

the leaves naturally act as a foil and the birds

0:27:550:27:59

never find the berries, whereas if you hold them up,

0:27:590:28:02

it's quite clear where all the berries are.

0:28:020:28:04

Isabel!

0:28:060:28:09

Hello! Come on! Nicely...

0:28:090:28:11

Nicely. Ooh!

0:28:110:28:13

OK, one more for Gertrude.

0:28:150:28:18

Stop being a pig, Alice. No, it's for Gertrude. It's for Gertrude!

0:28:180:28:21

Oi!

0:28:210:28:23

Nicely! That's my finger.

0:28:230:28:26

Some people would say that you're slightly pampered

0:28:270:28:30

as far as chickens go.

0:28:300:28:32

Next time, in my quest for a garden that

0:28:330:28:36

tastes as good as it looks, I'll turn my attention to floral foods...

0:28:360:28:40

fragrant lavender biscuits...

0:28:400:28:43

There's nothing more summery than the smell of lavender biscuits.

0:28:430:28:46

..potent home-made floral fizz...

0:28:460:28:50

and fresh from my garden, an edible bouquet,

0:28:500:28:53

a housewarming gift of home-grown herbs.

0:28:530:28:56

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:29:060:29:10

Alys Fowler attempts to avoid shop-bought fruit and vegetables and live off her own, home-grown produce, all from her tiny terraced back garden. It's no easy task because Alys doesn't want to turn her garden into an allotment, so she's growing her fruit and vegetables among her flowers.

Alys will focus on different foods and show how anyone can grow, cook and eat from their own garden - even if they live in a city.

Fruit, particularly fruit like raspberries and blueberries, can be a costly luxury bought from the shops, yet nothing could be simpler to grow. You plant them and then just sit back and wait. With most of her garden devoted to growing vegetables, Alys still manages to squeeze in some juicy fruits alongside her mature apple tree. As well as enjoying them for breakfast, Alys preserves their flavour by making jams, tangy fruit leathers and sweet dried apple rings.