Sunday, 14 September 2014

This year, there WILL be a garden

If Jerry's brother and sister-in-law can resuscitate their allotment after a flood, I can dig mine out from the weeds and couch grass and get planting!

In the last month or so I have been progressively digging over the beds that have been basically ignored since before we went away for 10 weeks last winter. Let me tell you folks, it has been ugly! One a day has really been all I (and my back) could manage. In fact a couple of them took 2 days.

This picture gives you a good idea about the state of the garden - but multiply that by 14 beds...
And that same patch of garden now (from the reverse angle). All the beds have been dug over, and had a dose of manure. These beds were done about 4 weeks ago, and when I scraped back the mulch yesterday the worms were going mad. When I originally dug over the beds and added the manure there were almost no worms. These beds should be ready to plant out for the main spring/summer planting starting next month.
The beds that I want to plant first I have used purchased compost and mushroom compost, so I can plant almost straight away, but the others will have 4-8 weeks for the worms to work on the manure and other bits of home made compost.
As the new garden season has really only just started here, there isn't much to show apart from some self seeded spinach and mustard leaf, and some rocked that is going to seed for the year. However the garlic is coming along nicely.

The same can not be said for the fruit cage, which looks a mess! However, we have plans to redo this area, remove the beds on either side of the fence, and extend, so motivation is low for serious weeding at this stage.

Friday, 30 May 2014

DIY sultanas

Last month we harvested almost 15kg of grapes. Far too many to eat, too many to just turn into jelly, and we don't drink much grape juice (unless it is the alcoholic variety!). What to do? I decided to get out the dehydrator and try making sultanas.

I craqzed the grapes briefly (dip in very hot water) to crack the skins to assist in the dehydrating process, then left them in the dehydrator for about 24 hours (some a bit longer - probably didn't craze as well). We ended up with three decent sized jars of rather tasty home made sultanas. Slightly tarter than the shop bought variety, although th egreen grapes were sweeter than the red ones. Perfect for the winter porridge season!



Monday, 26 May 2014

Getting back to home made

It is well past time for me to get back into making more and buying less. I got out of the habit when overwhelmed with work+work+uni, but as the weather gets cooler and I have time before next semester I need to re-establish some good habits.

Step 1: Bread. I have a new sourdough starter fermenting which should be ready to start baking with it next week. In the meantime I will get back to making bread rather than buying it.


Step 2: I will start making yoghurt using the cultures I bought. I made a batch 2 days ago, and converted about 3/4 into labna (yoghurt cheese). My next experiment will be to infuse the milk with vanilla bean before making the yoghurt to see if I can come close to the flavour of 5am's very delicious (but expensive) vanilla bean yoghurt. I'll let you know how that goes.
Step 3: Get back into make some hard cheese. I think I'll start with caerphilly as it has a short maturing time, and we enjoyed it last time.

Step 4: Eat through the food we have in the pantry. We have loads of dried beans and I still have some ham bones and a hock or two so this excellent soup will be getting a few runs in the next couple of weeks. The presence of dozens of jars of fruit suggests that there will be a lot of crumble made and consumed in winter :-)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Garden Update

I've taken a semester off uni (again) - I have a lot or work on, and it was all getting a bit much. However this has meant I have had the luxury of time to get out into the garden and remember why I hate weeding, and I really hate couch grass!

However, I've cleared 3.5 beds, and have even planted some winter veg, so I am making progress. We signed up to the local CSA scheme again this year so our veg is still (very) local, but at a minimum I'm determined to have some Kale and garlic in the ground over winter. I haven't had to buy garlic for years now and I don't want to start now. It will be hard enough to go back to buying tinned tomatoes at some point in a few months when I run out of my preserved ones.

Here's how things are looking.

These will be garlic beds - one "resting" after a mammoth dig-over, the other a work in progress.

Beds I dug over last week - now planted with 3 kinds of kale and silverbeet, cauli, cabbage, spring onions, turnip, swede, sugar snap peas, rocket, lettuce and a few radish varieties (mixed, podding and daikon)
The "wild garden" beds - all a bit haphazard, but at least there are a few peppers (L) and chillies (R- jalapenos) still to pick, as well as cherry toms. 

 And this will give you an idea of what I still have to do.......
 SIGH.
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