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Thursday, 30 December 2010

Christmas and New Year

*waves* Hello web folks! Christmas is over, New Year too. It's been another busy one with dinners at various parents houses (hands up if you don't want to see a plate of turkey again until next December!?). There was a lot of homemaking for us this Christmas, my two niece's received a knitted scarf each, various other family and friends got Pumpkin Jam, Plum and Vanilla Jam, Plum Vodka, Plumbs in Brandy. I also made some dark choc and mint sweeties. Nath got some of the sweeties and a knitted fish hat amongst his presents.

The plums came from a very old tree down the end of my parents back garden. I feel quite sentimental about this particular tree as it's older than I am (and I'm case you are wondering). When I was very small it used to bear a toddler swing off one of it's old gnarled branches. I have no idea how long victoria plum trees should last, fruiting is always a bit sparse and some years there is virtually no fruit and any fruit borne is dropped before ripening, but it did OK this year (any advice for caring for an elderly plum tree would be much appreciated! If you have any advice please leave me some advice in the comment section below).
I home made more presents this year than last year, and I hope to increase this again next year. Not only is it a more cost effective and self gratifying way to spend my money (buying ingredients) but it also means that the biggest gift I give my loved ones is this special season is my time and personal consideration. Surely worth more than splashing the cash.
How considerate of nature to give us a picture perfect week or so, with a thaw just before we go back to work. I am hoping this will give me enough time to scrape up the leaves from my front drive and spread that over the veg beds and dig up the remaining veg (parsnips and salsify...which hopefully made it through intact). I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and wish you all a happy New Year.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Shhh! The garden is sleeping.

The garden has been very cold this week, most of the snow has cleared and the nightly freezing fog is decorating the garden with ice crystals. It's very pretty. The picture above is the Nigella seed heads.
Bejewelled cobwebs adorn the metal shed.
There are many jobs I need to do in the garden, like raking the leaves that fall from the roadside trees in front of our house and spreading them over the vegetable beds as winter mulch, and I still have some supplies in the ground but it's too cold to dig. I'm not sure it's a fun time of year to be a chicken really, they must be chilly and glad of each other for warmth.

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

Pumpkins and more jam!

Remember those little pumpkins growing in my garden? My how they've grown! They store wonderfully in a cold room. Today's furry model is Bobbie, he contemplated eating the pumpkins (after an experimental nibble of the stalk) but settled for posing instead (it's really any excuse with him).

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 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 cute specimen of Greyhound beauty is Lenny, who's 12 years young. You wouldn't think a bag full of raw, mud covered Maris Pipers would have so much appeal to the canine nose would you?

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

Chicken Update

I haven't wanted to post this one because I am still upset about it, but sadly now we only have 2 chickens as one died, my favourite chicken Ruby :o( Apparently we can't have more ex batts at the moment as Nessa is a bit of a bully and has been pecking at Clara's back. I must confess I am tempted by the lure of Light Sussex hens, but ex batts are so lovely in temperament and I would feel guilty if the space didn't go to another ex batt. You can only increase your chicken population in two's as they need an ally against the existing hens who will bully them at first, until the pecking order is rearranged and everybody knows their place.

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!

This is an affiliated link to a groovy site where you can essentially buy plans to create your own chicken housing. I could really do with a spare coop for when I need to introduce more hens (that's more hens as opposed to moorhens!).

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

Chinese Tea Eggs

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
4 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)
Hard boil the eggs, when cooled tape the shells to break them (without breaking the egg itself). Put back into the water and add the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. After this time bottle with the spices and water and leave in the fridge for 2 days.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Huge Egg!!

Short update, can you tell I am enjoying my week off!? This huge thing came out of Nessa after several days of not laying...I bet that hurt, it's so big I can't shut the egg box!

I other news, I made plum jam with the Victoria plums from my parent's garden

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Auguest/September Update

The chicken above is Nessa, who is turning out to be a large but shy sister of chickenhood. Usually found lurking at the back.

This is Clara, very plucky...and very plucked! This is her surprised face as the camera whirred and flashed. She's not very shy really, bottom of the pecking order but very cheeky.

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.

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.

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!

Cucumbers are growing at last!

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


I popped home at lunchtime and opened up the Eglu's egg port to discover.....4 eggs!! 2 were in the nest, one was balanced on the roosting bars and the other was smashed and at the bottom of the poo tray. How eggciting!


The chickens have arrived! We picked them up in the afternoon from the BHWT, where a nice lady had the task of catching the remaining chickens in the circular holding pens. She passed us these 3 ladies pictured above, and we packed them into a box where they quiety sat for the journey back. When we got them home we showered them with a bit of red mite powder (as we were told them may have a few from living in the battery sheds) and popped them through the Eglu run door. The sad chicken faces I'd seen as I peeped through the box turned to curious chicken faces as they scratched the ground, ate the grass and investigated the 'glug' and 'grub' (food and water holders). As you can see their feathers are in a state, one also has a bare neck which you can see on this photo:

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

Nigella and small update

Pretty isn't it, and after it's done flowering and hiding my carrots from the carrot fly I can eat the seeds! It's days like this (a sunny Monday) when I wish I was standing ensconced in vegetable plants and flowers, sun on my face and damp earth under my feet. Alas I am not. Hohum.

Just a short one today, the garden needs a day spent on it, there are peas that are finished and need removing (leaving their roots intact to release nitrogen for the next crop of course) and in their place I shall maybe spread out the kale and pop in a few more kohlrabi (I just read the taste is cabbage turnip related but crisper...I might hate them). The kohlrabi are being savaged to death by slugs (who have now learned where I keep the lettuce), Nath's bought cheap beer to sink into the earth in plastic cups so they can have a party (that's what it's for isn't it?!).

I have room for another crop I think, no idea what I'd put in but there are still things you can plant in August. I was quite pleased when Lynn (Nath's step mum) asked if I'd grown any from seed, as it's pretty much all grown from seed barring the peppers from Nath's sis (now flowering!). I feel quite proud of myself!

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


So, time for an update! I shall start with the traditional British topic - the weather! It's is getting colder, someone forgot to tell the sun that it's only August. Some of us have crops to ripen...make with the warm!! At least this means Nath's contribution to gardening (watering and mowing the lawn) is a less frequent which he's probably grateful for. I may have to teach him advanced weeding next, those mini nettles are evil creatures!

The pumpkin plants are growing really well, a bit too well really, I regret planting the second one so close as they are such huge monsters already. This picture above is of the largest so far, I've wedged a stone underneath to lift it and stop it rotting. A couple of smaller ones have dropped off, we ate one of them roasted in the oven with a sample of our purple carrots (not ready yet, too small) and parsnips (ditto).

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!

Lettuce Soup

Serves: 4

1 Large Lettuce
1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Medium Potato, diced
25 Gram Butter
450 ml Milk
300 ml chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 Tablespoon Double cream, optional

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.
Bring to the boil, stirring continuously, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Liquidise and return to the pan.
Ladle into warm soup bowls, whirl on a tablespoon of cream if used and garnish with lettuce pieces.

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 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

Radish Crisps

I have found a way to prepare radishes that makes them really tasty! Really moreish!

Radish 'crisps'
  1. Chop radishes into even thickness slices.
  2. 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.
  3. Bake in the oven on medium heat until the top sides have browned, flip and return to oven.
  4. When they are browned both sides and a bit crispy take them out and salt to taste.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

In the Heat of Summer - *boing* vegetables appeared!

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'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

Bokashi Update

Just a little note to let you know bokashi bucket one fermented itself to completion and was emptied in the main composting darlek 2 weeks ago.  The smell was fine, it was just like pouring in a bucket of pickles, which after all is basically what it is.  Ours didn't have much in the way of animal products in it really, a fish spine or two and some small meat bones.  I should have taken a picture of the result, but it didn't look a lot different to the last entry (click on bokashi in the tag cloud to your right).  Since then the compost bin has been much much hotter, I can see signs of compost already, and also there is pretty much no smell (my worst fears about not being able to sit down that end of the garden weren't realised).  All in all I'd say bokashi-ing your waste is worth it, okay you have to buy the bran (the activator), but you do get vast amounts of compost for the garden in return and with that and the paper and plastic recycling our waste is down to one bin bag a week now, which is mostly dog poop (nice!). 
So yes, go buy one.  See if your council has any schemes to sell them cheaply to you.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Summer is here!

Temperature 25°C, Sunny

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.

Ths picture at the top shows a raised bed showing 2 different types of Lettuce and Peas growing up my home made trellis with Rocket and Butternut Squash growing at the near end (couldn't fit that end of the piccie). Soon there will also be Florence Fennel in there too and maybe Kohlrabi. My Spring Onions failed to show, I think I planted them too late.
The next picture shows the main bed, and the massive plot of Potatoes in the middle bed (how will we eat them all?!). In the main bed we have, closest to furthest away: cut and come again salad, mini Carrots, Pumpkins, Parsnips, purple Carrots, Leeks, purple Radish, Beetroot, Salsify & Rhubarb
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 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 play:
So what do you think? Not a bad start I'd say

Thursday, 10 June 2010

All is quiet

I haven't blogged for a bit, mainly because we're waiting for it all to grow. Let's see, I think most things are up although not a lot has it's second set of leaves yet. The radishes have, they are quite big already. I shall take a photo when the sun decides to shine again (England is being rained on this's like monsoon weather I nearly drowned the car in a rather deep puddle yesterday). I seem to have failed at spring onions, I did think I was pushing it a little to plant so late...oh well, it's only one line across one bed, I'm sure I'll find something to fill it with.

In the mean time have a look at this little chap (above), he's a Tawny Mining Bee. When we were digging the soil to put the beds in these guys were quite upset buzzing about looking confused, it's because they make their nests in the ground and I had removed their entry point. These pretty ginger bees are harmless (they have a really mild sting that would have trouble penetrating our skin) and love to nest in sandy soils. I felt sad that when the paths were in we might cover over some bees burrow holes, but it seems that they are happy to carry on using the raised beds as their homes. Doubtless they will make good pollinators, so we're happy and the bees are happy too!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Making paths

Thanks to the wonders of B&Q and their builders section we now have shiny new paths for our veg plot. The builders section is cheaper than the ornamental stone in the gardening section. We bought many (many many....many) bags of limestone chippings (2 person job to push the trolley) and a roll of weed-proof fabric, which we then tried to cut and fit on one of the most windy days in May so far. They may have been some bad tempered muttering...and one accidental stoning.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


My first strawberries are starting to form! A work mate gave me these plants, they'd been started off in a greenhouse so have a nice head start. Now they are sitting in the sun trap of my patio, behind a gate where the hounds can't get to them (it's not just the widdling that's a problem when big dogs are around plants...they are quite fond of 'pick your own', so I have to hide soft fruits from greedy woofers). The bag was also kindly gifted, it's a huge bag and the strawberries are already taking over like mad things. I've never grown my own strawberries before, I'm excited to see if they taste different to shop bought!

More on the main plot later...

Monday, 10 May 2010

Planting at last!

Yesterday I re designed the 'Grow Veg' plan to encompass the actual dimensions of the garden, this was a pain in the (water?)butt as the garden is all mad angles. But I have it, the final plan for this year! It may all go horribly wrong, I am very unsure about the bed near the shed, which I think might be too stony for root veg (and I have 5 types in that bed), but the bed at the top of this plan has fences which I think might please the pea plants.
Planted so far are the Spring Onions, Horseradish, Salsify, Potatoes, Rocket and 2 sorts of Lettuce. I have decided I really like seed tape (bought accidentally), it costs more but it's the easiest thing ever...even Nathan could manage to grow it *runs and hides*. Now I'd like it to rain so I don't have to get the hosepipe out.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Potato planting..go go go!

This is me looking particularly not dressed for planting the seed potatoes, and I am very white because I am freezing my butt off because I fannied about all day in the garden centre and then had a mad attack of garden guilt and came home dug the middle raised bed to aerate it and planted stuff at 7ish. This blog is full of tres flattering pictures of me, I might start gardening in eyeliner and lippy! ;op. First in the raised beds is Maris Piper Potatoes. Nomnom!

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!
I'm thinking I might put the garden furniture at this end on the decking, could be a pleasant spot to sit.

Nathan's Wellies

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

Bokashi Update

I thought it might be nice to add a little about Bokashi, so here you go.

What is Bokashi Fermentation?

It is the process of pickling organic waste material prior to composting. Waste food stuffs, (including meat, fish, dairy, bones) are added to the special bucket which has a sump to collect the liquid. The aim of the Bokashi system is not to actually compost, but to ferment your food stuffs, this puts it in a prime state to decompose rapidly when it's buried and comes into contact with soil bacteria and microorganisms. The active ingredient is the 'bran' which you will need to keep purchasing for the system to work. The bran contains microorganisms (Lactobacilli, Fungi/yeast, and phototropic bacilli) which cause a fermentation process. When you add new waste to the bin you need to sprinkle 'bokashi bran' on top and push the contents down to exclude as much air as possible, since the fermentation relies on anerobic (with out oxygen) conditions. The container is filled and left to sit for a week or two and the contents are then either buried in the garden or put into the compost bin where they will very quickly compost into nothing. The advantage to adding it to your compost heap is that it will heat up your compost bin, speeding up the composting off all the other contents. The liquid that drains to the bottom of the sump needs to be emptied via the tap and can be diluted 1 to 100 water and used to feed plants, or poured down the drain/plughole, which gives the added benefit of deoderising action.

So, our progress so far? After several weeks of using the bokashi system the contents looks as above. The yellowy brown bits are the bokashi bran (comprised of wheat bran, molasses and microorganisms). The smell is not bad at all, it's like a mild vinegary smell, and only if you stick your fact right next to it. I had heard such terrible things about smells akin to vomit and dog poo, but I suspect people with bad results had skimped on the bran (or maybe they had a lot more meat waste than us, you don't get much meat wasted with 4 Greyhounds). The best bit is that it's started to release fluid, which we can drain off through the tap in the bottom. I've been using it to make fertiliser for the house plants. The only pain is that you can't add tea bags, coffee grounds work great but tea bags produce the dreaded blue mould of doom. Blue mould is apparently very bad in bokashi buckets. No matter, we have a compost caddy next to the bokashi bin so all the non fermentable stuff like paper towels, receipts and tea bags go in there, where they can blue mould to their hearts content. Blimey, what a load of hippies we are turning into!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

*hack* *saw* *pound*

Last week saw the delivery of lots of tannalised scaffolding boards, ready to be dropped onto my thumb (sorry, used to make the raised beds!). This weekend saw us putting the first of them up which was quite a time consuming task. As no garden plan survives contact with the enemy the bed had be adjusted to fit on the fly; however that's an added bonus as it looks like we may have boards left to edge our lawn in so Bex can create exciting borders around it!

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 :)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Raised Beds

Construction! It took all day to erect one raised bed, mainly because of it's size, it's hugely long! They are made from brand new tanalised scaffolding boards and tanalised stakes, all screwed hammered and nailed into place. As you can see it's empty at the moment but it will be filled with a mixture of our sandy soil, compost and not our know what I mean! It's all coming together!
The man in the foreground is my dad, who's been fantastic with helping, we really couldn't have done it without him. I wasn't much use with this section of the proceedings, I stood armed with drill and drilled the screw holes! I did however make lunch which was home made gluten free bread sandwiches and egg mayo made with the eggs from Karl's chickens.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

First Veg!

The first thing planned, all be it in a pot as we still have no raised beds, is Garlic! This is Amy, as you can see she is mightily impressed with the garlic tubs (there are 3). The problem I am finding is that things unknown are nibbling them...could be the pigeons and magpies I keep seeing in the veg garden, or it could be the dreaded rats! One more week of activity and I shall call the council to do a proper investigation in the area, the only activity I can now see is the occasional dropped nibbled food stuff but I can't grow food if something is going to piddle on it or dig it up.