Thursday, 30 December 2010
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Still, despite the inconvenience it does make for a lovely spectacle.
Update on the Pumpkin Jam - Try it, it's scrummy on toast...a bit like mulled wine jam really.
Monday, 15 November 2010
With one of the pumpkins I made gluten free Pumpkin Pie to take to Nath's mom's for his sisters Birthday dinner. That only took a little bit of it, so with the rest I made Pumpkin Jam! You can find the recipe I used here, I tripled all the ingredients and I used Jam makers sugar and also added a sachet of pectin and sugar mix...it set...just. It tastes great! It actually made 4.5 jars, the part jar will be used to make experimental Pfeffernuesse.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
This pile of spuds is from the middle bed, and is about 4/5 rows worth. I was hampered in my harvest by having had my first horse riding lesson the day before (argh my poor legs!). Still it was exciting to dig in and unearth handfuls of Maris Pipers, rolling out like pale yellow treasure.
Issues: A few had tiny holes in which I am presuming to be Keel slug damage (as Maris Pipers are susceptible anyway), but to be fair that was only a tiny number which I ditched. Most are affected by common scab (also common both with Maris Pipers and sandy higher pH soil) but it's only cosmetic so who cares! I am trying nemaslug next year as after a slow start the garden is now a slug haven...and my beer traps don't work in the rain!
All in all, a mighty fine treasure haul!
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
The good news is that the remaining two chookins now made friends and Clara's feathers are at last grown in, although she looks a bit purple at the moment from the anti pecking spray which contains gentian violet extract. The picture at the top is Clara, bless her.
I am tempted by the idea of making my own chicken coop, or wire enclosed run. With more space to roam we could increase the size of the flock in the coming years. I am very tempted by an Eglu Cube, but the price is a bit prohibitive!
Chickens eat what ever grass or weeds are inside the run within the space of a week. We have 4 Greyhounds and the grass has all but stopped growing for winter so we have decided to made a temporary static base for the chicken run. We've chosen half log style low edging and soft wood chips. They will still need to be changed once a month, but at least we won't have to keep moving the run weekly and will conserve some lawn until spring to keep the mud at bay.
We are enjoying this programme at the moment Giles and Sue Live the Good Life. I suggest you check it out if you are interested in self sufficiency, chicken keeping etc etc (BBC2 Monday 21:00). The write up reads "In celebration of The Good Life's 35th birthday, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins step back in time to 1975 to find out what it takes to make the self-sufficient dream a reality".
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
I have found something to do with my spare eggs. Chinese Tea Eggs are a chinese snack food and are made by smashing up the shell of hard boiled eggs before boiling them in a liquid made from star anise, 5 spice powder, salt and black tea and then leaving them to soak for 2 days in the fridge. The result is....interesting.... Not to my tastes, but then I don't like my eggs hard boiled, Nathan likes them though. The taste is a lot like mulled wine, and the flavour soaks right through into the eggs yolk.
Chinese Tea Eggs
2 tablespoons salt (can be quite liberal with salt)
1 tablespoons Chinese Five Spice powder
1/2 star anise
1 tea bag (black tea)
Thursday, 2 September 2010
I other news, I made plum jam with the Victoria plums from my parent's garden
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
A nice group shot, I think they are looking a bit better already. Note my lawn...or what used to be my lawn. Every time I open the run door (the one opened to take the pictures) 2 little heads poke though to eat the fresh grass on the other side. This week they will be moved to a fresh bit, we are just waiting for the run extension to arrive. Egg laying has settled now, we are down to one or two a day.
This is Ruby, she is exceptionally bossy and cheeky and has a thing for jewelery, if I hand feed her it's 10% eating food and 90% eyeing up and pecking my silver rings and bracelet. She let me pick her up this week, and she grudgingly lets me stroke her. She's usually found up to her ears in the food bowl.
Swiftly to the garden...September is here, it seems to have come around quickly. Thinks are still ripening in the garden, but it's sunny today, you never know, I might be lucky and get them all to ripen before the cold weather sets in.
Kale...kale is hard to grow, it germinates fine but the slugs looooove it so it gets ravaged! Hence my home made beer traps to the right of the picture. The kohlrabi is suffering a similar fate, I have replanted it all twice!
The fennel's in the large tub are growing really well, the one in the border was a slug casualty, I think there was so much lettuce in there and damp places that I was doomed really. All the lettuce has been pulled (save for a few bolted ones that will become chicken treats) and the peas were 90% finished so most of those have come up now, that bed is now dedicated to onions (I found ones you can grow this time of year) and kohlrabi and kale. It's nice to know you can still start things growing this late.
Seed pods on the radishes. As well as providing seeds with which to grow more radishes next year (cunning) I left some radishes to flower because the pods are good to have as a snack with beer. Nath seems to agree, personally I hate radishes in pretty much any form!
You can see how much everything has grown over the summer, there are 2 large pumpkins for Halloween and we've eaten lots of the flowers fried in spiced batter, delish! Yesterdays pruning of rhubarb which was really getting in the way (to the front right of the picture) resulted in rhubarb crumble for pudding, nomnom! The little row of stones at the front marked the place where I have planted the Mizuna (Japanese greens which can be eaten raw in salads or cooked).
One thing that is in absolute abundance in the garden in ladybirds, and I'm happy to say all native species. They are all over the grass and the veg garden. Mostly 7 spots ones like the above but I also saw a 2 spot on the compost bin. The garden is also covered in their larvae, munching though the black fly on the potato tops.
Last picture today. We grew 2 sunflowers and competed to see who's would grow the tallest. Mine lost, but the bees love it anyway, one's it has seeds I might see if I can rescue some from the birds and squirrels!
Finally, a word of warning, do not bend over in low cut trousers at this time of year, you may find a daddy-long-legs decides to try to fly down your bum crack, causing much squealing and hysterical flapping! You have been warned!
Monday, 23 August 2010
Their names are Clara (bald necked but very brave far left on the top photo and above), Nessa (follows Clara's lead, is on the far right in the top photo) and Ruby (shy, has a larger comb and is in the middle above). Hoping they will all make it. Last night I nipped out at dusk and all 3 had gone into the Eglu to sleep, delighted I sneaked up and closed their door.
They spent yesterday in the dark but this morning have a bit of run uncovered so they can come and look out if they feel brave enough. Ruby was sitting on the nest when I left for work, peering nervously at the outside world. The other two came straight out for breakfast.
Monday, 16 August 2010
The chickens arrive on Sunday, I'll take pictures once they've stopped panicking and settled down. So far barring the house they have not cost much, a bag of ex batts layers crumb, a bag of grit and a 2ltr bottle of apple cider vinegar cost me £11, not bad at all! We need to think of some good chickeny names for them, suggestions welcome.
Friday, 6 August 2010
Peas...we've had millions of these! You can see the lettuce in the background too. I massively over planted the lettuce forgetting that more or less everything I plant grows (it's a curse I tell you!!). I have found a very nifty way of using it up though, lettuce soup!
Shred the lettuce, reserving some for garnish. In a saucepan fry the lettuce, onion and potato gently in the butter for 5 minutes without browning. Add the milk and stock.
This is the plait I made with my garlic, they are tiny, I think I should probably have left them until the foliage was more dead. I have left the other tub and will try again in a month, see how big they are then. These ones are plaited and drying.
The Maris Piper potatoes are listing helplessly about now flowering is over, blocking the pathways to the smaller veg. This is annoying, I might tie them up with string at the weekend. I seem to have grown 'true seed', small tomato-like pods on top of the flower stalks. I read that these can be planted next year and will grow potato plants all be it a bit unpredictably as you don't know what variant will grow from each one of the 200 seeds in each seed pod. There's some very interesting info on this here. I have pulled one row of tatties early so we could try some, while they are still smallish they taste lovely (and were a constituent of the lettuce soup!).
Things still to come are peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, florence fennel and butternut squash....to be honest this cooler weather and lack of sun is really not helping!!
I have not stopped planting yet, there is more lettuce on the way *groan* also kale, kohlrabi and some cabbage (if I can find room for the donated cabbage seed to germinate). I want to find room to grow some late onions.
Our other big news is the imminent addition of chickens! 3 from the British Hen Welfare Trust. A big garishly pink Eglu hen house will be arriving Saturday!
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
- Chop radishes into even thickness slices.
- Spray an oven tray with spray oil, place the slices on and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder and paprika, finish with a spray of oil.
- Bake in the oven on medium heat until the top sides have browned, flip and return to oven.
- When they are browned both sides and a bit crispy take them out and salt to taste.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Here, have a picture of the side of my head (Nath's poopy photography skills meant rejection of gurning shots) with Amy(pink collar) and Jack ('the white one').
Well there isn't much heat at the moment, but there was heat, and plenty of sun (and in England too...who'd have guessed!), which meant our veggies have grown big and healthy. There are loads of fat pods on the peas, finger sized baby carrots have miraculously appeared in the ground and this surprise purple radish has just been discovered...it's huge!!!!!! Shame I hate radish (why is it even considered a vegetable?!), but I'm sure Nathan will enjoy it! The garlic have wilted right down, though the leaves are still green, I don't think they should be lifted yet, but I lifted one as an experiment, it's not bad...not massive but it smells good. The pea was scoffed about 2 minutes after this picture was taken, it's friends will share it's fate soon! In other news I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm too fond of brackets (but maybe it's fine).
Monday, 28 June 2010
So yes, go buy one. See if your council has any schemes to sell them cheaply to you.
Saturday, 26 June 2010
So, I haven't blogged in a while, this is mostly because I have been very lax with weeding and it looked a bit unkempt, so I was too embarrassed to show you. Yesterday Nath and I delved into the jungle with Pith helmets and rifles (in case of Tigers, you can never be too sure). All the weeds were tweaked up by the roots, the things we planted sorted from the things we did not (I did that bit, it still foxes Nath') and the tigers were sent packing. There was a brief rest for Nath when he went off to the shops to buy kneeling pads (now I really do feel old!) and several more bags of soil (will it never end!). Upon discovering it was cooler with your head stuck in the potato undergrowth I got stuck in earthing them up, I hope I didn't leave them too long.
This next photo shows the blue tub of Cucumbers (still looking a bit yellow, hopefully moving them to this end of the garden will allow a little more light), and the Tomatoes.
Strawberries need no introduction, they are growing massive! Compare it the size to my fingers next to it.
The Garlic is still growing nicely in it's pots
Also I have started to develop the rest of the garden a little, cornering off two tiny flower boarders, here is a nice Anthemis bought from a National Trust shop. Nath likes this one, it's the only plant name he's learned so far...so expect to hear it a lot! ;oP (edit- he's just scoffed at this comment, aparently he knows lots of plants names, he also knows Fuchsia and Potato). You can't eat this one, but it's a pretty plant, I love daisy shaped flowers, they are my favourites.
I can't do a massive photo session without including a picture of the blogs namesake. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lakers Amy...at play:
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Monday, 17 May 2010
Sunday, 16 May 2010
More on the main plot later...
Monday, 10 May 2010
Saturday, 8 May 2010
Top quote of today's garden exercise (after a discussion on giving away some of the millions of seeds potatoes we have for the price of a beer...) Nath (in an inadvertent slightly cockney accent) - "ah but the bed is slightly canted", Bex - "wait...are we back to the beer again?".
A pic of raised beds:
There are 3 beds, two long ones and one shorter one, to allow for the collection of water from the water butt sitting the end of the shed. They are really long beds, I think we might be growing food for the whole road! My earlier idea of joining the Hugh F-W landshare program (to garden someone else's land) may not be needed!
What a fine figure of a man! An excellent example of the modern urban gardener, modelling his newly received wellies (thanks Ro!) after a hard afternoons graft digging the raised beds and planting. Well, for most of it I was foraging in Asda whilst the much more green fingered Bex did the digging, but I did heave the compost into the beds!
Speaking of which, 100 litre bags of compost are quite heavy (thanks Ian!); I'd recommend slightly smaller ones if you're carrying them any distance. Still, that which does not kill us makes us walk like Quasimodo, as they say.
So, we now have three made up and filled raised beds, one of which is full to the brim of potatoes (boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em inna stew!) , and the other two ready for planting with the many, many seeds we now have (thanks Jo, John and Ronan!). I suspect we'll get them done tomorrow, as much of today was taken up with a very pleasant trip round Melbicks. We failed to purchase what we actually went for (a seed box for storing our masses of seed, sweet potato for planting), but did acquire other fine garden swag - a huge reinforced bag for planting of tomatoes & some horseradish tubers for tasty roast beef accompaniment later in the year (Bex adds - and Salsify seeds). And chocolate. Mission accomplished!
And now for tea :)
Monday, 26 April 2010
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
In other exciting news I may be about to own my first pair of wellies since childhood; with it being birthday time for us we're asking people for various gardening doo-dads and stuff - am quite excited at the thought, especially as the garlic seems to be coming up lovely :) Home grown veg, mmmm...
Hoping to fill the first of the raised beds over the course of the evenings this week, which should let us know how much soil & compost & manure we need for the others; a gardeners work is never done :)