Hitting the Water Table

by earthwoman on February 3, 2014

We made a flying visit to the plot this morning to deposit the kitchen compost and to rescue the last few Brussels.

Compost has become a bit of a cottage industry at our house. I have a production line that starts by the kettle with a little repository for tea bags, moves down to the lovely silver caddy on the kitchen floor and then out into the back garden where it can go one of 3 ways.

In the garden we have a large galvanised dustbin, two bokashi buckets and a multi-tiered wormery. I haven’t quite worked out the optimum route for all our waste but the initial plan was to send everything to the bokashi buckets for high speed Japanese fermenting and then on to the wormery for compost production.

I hoped the worms would produce enough soil for me to replace the bank that has slipped into the neighbours garden but they only seem to devour at the rate of 1 lettuce leaf per week.

That’s where the galvanised bin comes in handy and in truth I may as well be bypassing the bokashi and the wormery and ditching all our waste into it.

Anyhoo, we waddled on to the plot with bin and bokashi buckets in hand and I decided to dig trenches to tip it all in. That way I could plant my summer squash into a moisture retaining environment and hopefully grow championship worthy whoppers.

It’s hard to imagine that the soil would need assistance with water retention. I hit the water table at one spades depth and found myself stuck, steadfast in a squelchy clay puddle.

We considered ourselves lucky though as our neighbours on the opposite side of the plot have had to return their usual seed order and panic purchase rice.

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Port and Sloe Gin Production

by earthwoman on December 22, 2013

Most of the sloes had gone by the time we got our foraging heads on. We had to endure multiple blackthorn puncture wounds in order to get deep enough into the hedgerow to secure some berries that the birds had missed.

I still bear the scars from that day and the experience has left me wanting to squeeze the very marrow from my hard won sloes.

20131222-163812.jpgThey initially went into bottles for the traditional sloe gin but now two months later I am decanting the gin and don’t feel the sloes have reached the end of their useful lives.

Thankfully Permaculture magazine has provided me with the perfect recipe for semi-sozzled sloes. Sloe Port.

I bundled an approximate dollop of sugar and healthy slug of cognac into the drained bottle of gin soaked sloes and topped up with a bottle of bargain basement merlot. In a couple of months I should be rewarded with a very interesting bottle of port.

Either that or a bottle of pink salad vinegar.

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The Importance of Labels

by earthwoman on December 10, 2013

Salmon and Rhubarb JamWe ran out of tartare sauce today.

I don’t know what you are supposed to do in that situation. If I run out of lager I’ll substitute a bottle of Merlot but I don’t have a ready made substitute for tartare sauce.

With salmon on the plate, I had to think on my feet and I went down the chutney route.

I raided the fridge where all the unlabelled, half-eaten jars reside.

I polished off the last remnants of the best beetroot relish ever! And then experimented with the unknown – the small gifted jars that either came from my family or the in-laws. The distinction is important. Lynn’s family do jams. Mine do sour chutneys and marmalade.

Neither family do labels though.

In the end I “enjoyed” salmon with rhubarb jam.

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Cavalo Nero Kale Crisps

by earthwoman on November 28, 2013

This is the first year of growing Kale.┬áIt’s taken me about 40 years to acquire the taste but I’ve now found the recipe that boosts this brassica into top spot – Cavalo Nero crisps.

I force fed the vegetable loathing teenager a crisp, hoping to recreate the last force feeding photo opportunity, but it totally backfired. She actually loved my crisps and now I have to share them!

Here’s the recipe:

  • Chop leaves into 1 inch strips
  • Cut out the vein out as it helps the leaves dehydrate without burning
  • Toss with olive oil and a bit of sea salt
  • Lay out on the microwave plate and cook for 3-4 mins

Cavolo Nero Kale Crisp Recipe

Kale crips

I opened the microwave after 2 mins to let some of the steam evaporate but its a fairly forgiving process – the leaves dry out well without much fuss.

They crisp up amazingly well and store for an age in a tupperware box. Not that I’ll need to keep them for long, my current problem is trying to keep them away from the teenager.

I’ll be planting an extra row of Kale next year.

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A Room of One’s Own

by earthwoman on November 3, 2012

20121103-203537.jpgI’ve always considered the allotment shed to be a home from home but the recent crop failings and resultant low morale has led it to be more of an irregular holiday home and our lack of attentiveness became apparent today.

Opening the shed I discovered my boots had been used as a rubbish receptacle, I tried blaming Lynn but further inspection revealed the worrying signs that squatters had moved in – the Rich Tea biscuits had been half inched, the coffee whitener nibbled and a row of unappealing black deposits lined up on the supplies shelf.

It appears that a mouse has declared my boot a room of his own.

20121103-203626.jpgI’m quite impressed with his interior design. A veritable cornucopia was packed deep into the toe recess, including two real ale bottle tops and a large handful of plum stones.

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In Search of New Hobbies

July 21, 2012
In Search of New Hobbies

I feel like I have this entirely unsatisfactory hobby where I spend hours each weekend, weeding and tilling and planting, just in order for an army of soft, squishy critters to gorge themselves silly on our lush organic produce. Next year I may try out a new hobby of browsing the veg aisles in the [...]

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The Air was Blue

April 15, 2012
The Air was Blue

There were some ripe utterances on the plot this morning and for a change it wasn’t me doing the cursing. One of my latest crazes is woodworking but beyond whittling a wooden spoon and purchasing assorted hand tools I haven’t really progressed the hobby much further. I’ve sharpened one of many vintage chisels and have [...]

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Hammett’s Tights

March 18, 2012
Hammett's Tights

I have been known to swear in the presence of the M1 Garden Rotovator but after Reg gave it the overhaul last year and passed on his top tips I knew that the trick was to filter the petrol through a pair of Tracey Hammett’s tights. It seems that our habit of churning the soil [...]

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