Friday, 28 July 2017

Ready, steady, harvest! Abundance in our garden.

It seems that this has been a very good year for growing food in our garden. Hopefully this is a result of us improving the soil in the raised beds and an indication of things to come, that year by year the yield will increase as we enrich and enhance the soil.
 I've been picking blackberries, not only from the hedgerows of the fields surrounding us, but from the brambles that are quietly but steadily invading our garden.The area immediately outside our boundary is not being cut back by the farmer using the fields, this is a nuisance on one level because the weeds are growing very well and are now about four feet high and their seeds are blowing and dropping into our garden and chicken field, on the otherhand, it is supplying us with an amazing crop of blackberries. Now if I could just find a way to eat thistles, we'd be completely sorted!
 The elderberry tree is now starting to look purple, the birds are gorging themselves on ripening berries and I have started to pick as many berries as I can reach. I'm putting them straight into the freezer and, when I have enough, I will make some more elderberry wine. I'm also going to make elderberry syrup as I hear it is soothing for sore throats and the other symptoms of winter colds.
 The mirabelle plums are almost ready, one or two show the deep rich yellow of ripeness and I'm watching daily as the others turn from green to pale yellow to a darker, softer, buttery yellow.These too will be going into the freezer until I am ready to use them. Last year's crop were used to make some mirabelle plum and red grape wine which turned out to be a great success (unlike the elderflower wine that I made last year which is disgusting!).

Today's vlog continues the harvesting theme, if you can't view it on your device from this blog, you can watch it on YouTube here.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Good Weather For Ducks and Ducklings

If the video won't play on your device, you can watch it on YouTube here.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

No Dig Potatoes. Did the under cover potatoes grow?

Back in late March I planted my seed potatoes out, under cover. If you didn't see how I did that you can watch my vlog about it here.

The theory is that you don't need to earth them up because the covering excludes the light and the potatoes sit just below the covering, on top of the soil, so you don't need to dig down to find them.

And today I peeled back the covering for the first time to see how my no dig potatoes have grown (or not). 

If you cannot play the video on your device, you can watch it on YouTube here.

So I will definitely be doing this again next year, with the addition of woodchippings as you can see the difference it seemed to make.

All in all I would say that so far it's a success, the final reveal will be in two to four weeks when I harvest the crop for storage.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Food Forest Fruit year one

The Food Forest is starting to take shape and offering an abundance of fruit even in its first year. In this video I have a look at some of the fruit that is growing well at the moment.

It you can't play the video below, you can see it on YouTube here.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Behaving Badly, thoughts on the human condition

Here's a slightly off topic post, but all the same one that I feel very strongly about. The gist of this is 'please be nice to one another'.

It's not so much to ask really, but increasingly I see less and less evidence of folks being nice to each other. It seems to me that in the last year or so things have changed, the mood has changed (and not for the better) there is a level of acceptance that people can be horrid, rude, bullying and downright aggressive towards other people and that it is no longer acceptable to have differing opinions. Nowhere can this be found more, I feel, than online. 
If this video will not play on your phone, tablet etc. you can watch it on YouTube here.

So here's the thing and it is, of course, just my opinion - in a time when even the leaders of nations seem incapable of conducting themselves with dignity, self-control or compassion, I think it is even more important that we keep ourselves in check and behave towards others in a, well, humane way.

As I said, it is just my opinion and if you don't agree with me, well that's okay by me.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Structure and Form on the Homestead

As the wind continues to batter our home, I have managed to do a few tasks, but it's certainly slowing down the growth in the garden.

If you can't see the video below, you can see it on YouTube here


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Orange Sponge Cake with Dark Chocolate Icing

 After I had posted a photograph of this cake on social media I was asked for the recipe, so here it is.


4 ozs lightly salted butter
4 ozs sugar (we use unrefined granulated sugar)
2 eggs (medium to large)
4 ozs gluten free self-raising flour (standard flour works just as well if you don't have a gluten intolerence)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pinch sea salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons orange extract (if you don't have this, use the finely grated zest of one large orange)

For icing
1 oz lightly salted butter
icing sugar
cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 375F, 190C, Gas mark 5 and grease and flour two 7 inch cake tins

Cream the butter and sugar together
Add the eggs and stir well until combined
Add the vanilla extract, salt and orange extract
Add the self-raisng flour and fold in carefully.
Divide between two cake tins.

Bake in the centre of the oven until golden.
Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave until cool.

For the icing.
In a bowl combine the butter with some icing sugar and cocoa powder at a ratio of approximately 50:50, this should give you a dryish mixture. Add vanilla extract and a very little cold water. Mix to a smooth paste, adding drop by drop of water if your icing needs to be smoother or less dry.

Cover one layer of cake with icing, put the second layer on cake on top and carefully cover with icing.