Category Archives: home grown food

Allotment plan 2011

The trailer being off the road has held up work on the allotment, I had hoped to have almost finished covering the beds that are being manured by now but as it stands there is still four still to do. I will get there though and in the mean time I have finalised a growing plan.

Plot one (starting from the bottom of the plot nearest the car park);

Bed 1: Garlic. Bed 2: Parsnips. Bed 3: Leeks and beetroot. Bed 4: Courgettes and sweetcorn. Bed 5: Peas. Bed 6: Cabbages

Plot two;

Bed 1: Broccoli. Bed 2: Winter squash and sweetcorn. Bed 3: Cauliflower. Bed 4: Winter squash and sweetcorn. Bed 5: Potatoes. Bed 6: Potatoes

Middle-younger-sister is going to grow all the beans and carrots and more beetroot and at home I am going to grow sprouts, tomatos, kale, strawberries, raspberries and salad.

Left to buy are seed potato, International Kidney (or Jersey Royals if grown in Jersey although I think they have their own variation which has been bred on the island) and Kestrel, beetroot, sweetcorn and parsnip seeds.

Minus 12 days until sowing starts!

And would you like squash with that?

I noticed that one of my Boston squash had started to get little patches of mould on it and so was time to think up ways of using it all up before what I consider to be last years biggest, in all senses of the word, success of last year went to waste.

I don’t think I properly recorded  how big the last one we eat was but this one weighted 8.7kg once cut up, to fit on the kitchen scales, and all the seeds removed.

Some of it was made into roast squash which is one of our favourites and Boston squash seem to have an ideal taste for it, not too sweet and a little nutty. Similar to Butternut squash I would say but much easier to grow going by last years results. Some more was made into ‘Cheesey Squash Wraps’ and some more made into ‘Creamy Squash Soup’ and even more made into ‘Creamy Squash and Garlic Soup’.

The Cheesey Squash wraps were based on some spicey cheese wraps that I have made a few times lately and have gone down a storm, these however got mixed reactions but I thought they were delicious and so did Rhys so shall be made again I am sure. I made them by mixing the leftover roast squash with some that had been softened up and mashed, as there wasn’t enough roast squash left to go round, with some grated mature cheddar and some mozzarella cheese and put into tortilla wraps and served with salad including carrot, apple, beetroot, cherry tomatoes and leaves with a homemade raspberry, honey and mustard dressing.

The Creamy Squash Soup was made by softening onions with black paper and mixed herbs then adding the chopped up squash and allowing it all to ‘mush up’ together, then add water, vegetable stock, marmite and soy sauce all to taste. The first time I made this soup I also added cream but this made it far too creamy for most of us so I left it out this time. To make the Squash and Garlic Soup I added two bulbs of chopped up garlic to the softened onion and cooking for a few minutes before adding the squash and I did add a pot of cream to this one at the end as the garlic completely changes the taste.

No photos of any of it as I was too busy eating it all but hopefully this year I will get good at taking photos of the food I make.

A visit back to my 2010 resolutions, and forward to 2011’s

I’ve done well with my resolutions/aims for 2010, even if I do say so myself, being now at the end of the year able to cross each one off the list that I made at the beginning of the year, all those months ago;

Visit the Eden Project – Last year I finally visited the Centre for Alternative Technology, the Eden Project is also on my list of places to visit so this shall be the year. I visited the Eden Project at the end of September and loved it. It just has a ‘feel’ about the place that is exciting and inspiring, I would have been more than happy to just sit around soaking it up all day.

The Eden Project - September 2010

The Eden Project - September 2010

Make my own cheese cake Cheese cake is my favourite so it really is silly that I have never made my own. Done, a few times now, and very yummy it was too. I am going to have to try making lemon cheesecake soon

Cut down the amount of needless “stuff” I own and accumulate –  I will carry on with the declutter already started and get better at not buying things on a whim. I will set up a wish list for birthdays and Christmas. I will use the library instead of buying books. I will continue using the Mooncup I have and give homemade shampoo a try again. I can’t really say that is done as it seems to be one of those forever ongoing jobs and I possibly could have done more but after reading Living the Goodlife I am inspired to keep going and to be aware of what I am accumulating. I’m getting very good at asking myself if whatever is in my hand is really something I need or if the ‘happiness value’ is really worth it when I am out shopping.

Grow more of my own food – I need to eat more leafy greens and the fresher they are the better for me they will be so I will make sure I grow more kale and look for some more recipes to use it in. By mid-April I will like to have the allotments plots ready for full use, and fill the space up with crops. Well I didn’t manage to get the whole two allotment plots up and running but one and a half which isn’t bad. This is another on going one I think, and next year I will have two allotment plots, a garden and a patio area to play with!

Potato flower - 16th of July 2010

Potato flower - 16th of July 2010

Stay in contact with friends – I know this is something I am very bad at, when I have time off work I like being at home doing my own thing and it often seems like to much effort to go out and visit people but I have some very good friends, who luckily understand I am a little odd and more of a loner than most other people my age, and I will make more of an effort to see them. Another ongoing one but something I have enjoyed doing

A few of my plans for next year are;

Finish two knitting projects – This year I finished my first ever knitting project, although I started countless things but for one reason or another, mostly forgetting what I had done or realising I’d made a mistake about ten rows after I’d made it. This year I would like to finish two knitting projects

Make my own Tofu (even if it has to be with bought in Soya Beans) – I have never really had Tofu before but it was one of the things that they made in Living the Goodlife and I have a packet of Soya Beans to try growing this year so am going to try making some myself

Make a carrot cake, using home-grown carrots – explains itself really

Save my own seed – I have saved a few seeds this year but not done so in the way that you ‘meant’ to

Furnish the new house with other people’s ‘rubbish’ (with the exception of a washing machine – I’ve already made a start on this, so far we have a sofa bed, table and chairs, some single beds for the share room, kitcheny things and I’m sure that we can make up a home without have to buy things new and save a few things from landfill as we go (I will post more about this soon)

I’m sure I will do so much more in 2011 than is on this list, this New Year is going to start a whole new chapter of my life!

Garlic – a project for 2011

I think I have maybe gone overboard with my garlic buying this year. After reading up on what varieties I decided that ‘Iberian Wight’ sounds like it is most likely to do best at the allotment, but after taking the time to read up on the subject could I find anywhere that sold them  locally, in short no. So I widen my search to online but still failed to find somewhere that didn’t charge an arm and a leg for a few bulbs and then postage on top. Not for the first few weeks of looking any way, then I came across a website that not only had them in stock but at, what I consider, a very fair price. Success!

This was shortly after the seed saving talk that I went to and so my head was full of never buying seeds again, and why not apply the same to garlic bulbs? So I added five bulbs to my shopping basket and headed for the ‘check out’, with only a slight detour via the mushroom growing kits. These five bulbs were to join the nine cloves of locally grown Elephant Garlic that I already had. All adding up to a reasonable amount of garlic to grow next year.

Then came an email just one day after I placing my order that tipped the balance from a ‘reasonable amount of garlic’ to ‘where am I going to grown all this, but it’ll be fine really. And we do like garlic…” a free £10 voucher for Thompson and Morgan and so I bought two* bulbs of ‘Wight Cristo’, which is described as “English production of pure white bulbs with an elegant bouquet, ideal for a wide range of dishes. Long keeping bulbs” and two* bulbs of ‘Early Purple Wight’, which seems to be the garlic that is sold in supermarkets so much be alright-ish. 

(*This was just the amount that they were sold in, if they had sold individual bulbs I would have just bought one of each)

One of my firm growing plans for 2011 are to grow things following the biodynamic calendar, but I also love tradition folklore and have grown-up knowing that you “plant garlic on the shortest date, to harvest on the longest day”.

And it is this that has set me up with a project for 2011 as this years shortest day fell on a biodynamic flower planting day, not a root planting day. I have already planted one bulb of ‘Iberian Wight’ on the 21st of December, e.g. the shortest day, I will plant one bulb tomorrow (29th December), which is a biodynamic root day, and then one bulb on the day after (30th December), which is another flower day but not the shortest day.

I have bought a pack of flower pots so as they will all be started off in the same sized pots and using the same bag of compost, as the ground outside was frozen with about two inches of snow on top on the 21st, which only leaves when to plant them out on the allotment to decide.

The rest of the garlic I will plant on a root day, most likely tomorrow.

The pick of the crop

I harvested my Boston Squash on Saturday. After being away for a night I started getting jumpy about a possible frost happening and losing them before the chance to try them.

Day of harvest - 2nd of October 2010

The plants have done well, all but one have produced a large squash and tried to carry on and produce more but these monsters seem to have taken all the energy and although other fruits have set they have started to rot on the plant before getting to full size or ripening.

A car full; we had to put the back seats up to get them home and that is my hand on the largest squash - 7th of October 2010

Last night we tried the first one, I picked the second smallest up by its stalk which was a big mistake as it fell straight off and so was picked first for using up as it won’t store well. We had it roasted with rosemary and it was very nice!

There is still plenty left for tonight’s dinner. I am planning on making a creamy soup which will use some of the rest up and tomorrow we shall have to think of something else.

One meal down, a few more to go - 7th of October 2010

They are all far to big to weigh using any of the scales we have, 5kg being the heaviest, but this one weight over 8kg after being seeded and halved.

Definitely one to grow again next year.

Courgette with cottage cheese and pesto

This is how I used the first courgettes from the allotment and it was really tastie.

You will need: courgettes, garlic, butter, cottage cheese and pesto (I used the red one but I’m sure it will work with the green or home-made.)

Method: Slice the courgettes either into two or four depending on their size and how thick you want them. Chop the garlic and add with the butter to a frying pan. When the butter has melted added the courgette and cook until it is firm but warm all the way through. Serve on a plate with cottage cheese, or maybe goats cheese, and the pesto adding any left over butter, garlic and juices left in the frying pan as an extra dressing.

Allotment 21/07/2010 – First courgette

First courgette of the year just before picking - 21st June 2010

 

Today has been warm with lots of little showers, prefect growing weather, and this evening I picked the first courgette. 

It is from seed bought from The Real Seed Company and it is a variety called ‘Striato d’Napoli’ and hopefully later in the year I can save my own seed for next year.

Allotment – May 2010

I seem to have settled into a new pattern at the allotment over the last month, because of my work load I haven’t had many days when I can spend large amounts of time up there but I am visiting most evenings after work and spending an hour or so there, and a few more on days that I have had off. I have also started keeping lots of notes, with plans and changes to plans all recorded.

I have enjoyed writing my notes, it is a nice thing to do in the evening after it is too late to be outside. I haven’t written them every night just when I have felt like it so they are not complete and things have changed here and there, I have lost seedlings, not sown things that I have planned to and seem to have had a very slow germination rate meaning that I have given up on some things and planted more of them only to have them all come up.  

Seed Germination

10/05/2010

17/18 – broccoli

4/10 – Greyhound Cabbage

7/10 – Evesham (brussel sprout)

4/10 – Falstaff (brussel sprout)

0/5 – Red cabbage

Still to sow: 1 tray curly kale, 1 tray nero kale

21/05/2010

24/18 – broccoli

2/5 – red cabbage

5/10 – Falstaff (brussel sprout)

9/10 – Evesham Special (brussel sprout)

0/9 Courgettes 

11/11 Raab

4/4 Kale

No French or Runner beans fully up but showing plenty of signs of life. Labels wash blank

Seeds soaking – squash 

Boston Winter Squash – largest seeds x5, Butternut Squash – small and ‘rough’ looking x7, Golden Crookneck – a little bigger than the Butternut seeds. Smoother and slightly yellowy.

Parsnips

This year was the first year I have ever tried growing parsnips and I had been really pleased with the results and seemed to have some nice healthy looking plants. I decided that they were ready to go out and planned digging a bed for them as a job for the weekend, only to find the whole tray of them all over the floor having been knocked over by something during the night. I haven’t managed to save any of them.

Squashes

The first lot of squashes that I planted were very slow to come up, so slow that I gave up on them and planted the rest of the spares seeds I had kept for next year and any other types of squash seeds I found in my boxes and packages of seeds, of which I have many. All of the squash seed that I have bought this year has come from The Real Seed Company  and this is the first year that I have bought seeds from them so I did fear that maybe they just weren’t going to come through. I was wrong, and they came through within a day or so of my sowing the others. Luckily squashes can be kept and don’t have to be eaten as soon as they are ready to harvest.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

I realised that I had left it far to late to sow any purple sprouting broccoli so I bought some plug plants from ebay, I chose an early variety as it would be nice to have some for Christmas. I ordered a variety called ‘Rudolph’ which should be ready in November. I ordered ten plug plants and got twenty! They are all now in and have almost out grown their plastic bottle protectors.

Strawberries

I now have a strawberry bed. A friend gave me loads of her strawberry plants at the start of the month, and even though they were moved at the wrong time of year really they are doing ok. Rhys made a bed for them on the grassy area of the allotment, where I now have a table. They have suffered in the last week or so of heat and a lot have gone brown in spite of being watered over two gallons of water a day, and twice a day on the hotter days, but seem to be springing back now we have had a few days of rain.

Paths and grass

I have left the path ways on the plots as grass, this is to encourage a bit of an ecosystem to develope up there. My long term plan for this is to keep some meat rabbits up there and feed them on the path ways which of course will provide another kind of food (for the meat eaters) and greatly inprove the soil and maybe encourage good bugs etc. I haven’t yet managed to steal mothers rabbits for this and so the grass up there is having to be mowed, I am using the cuttings as a mulch and have counted three different kinds of grass, which I am very pleased with.

A freezer full of meat

On Wednesday the pigs and four sheep, one hogget and three mutton, went off to the butchers. It was an early start but pretty uneventful really as it all went fine. 

Frosty supplies of Elderflower cordial - 30th April 2010

Yesterday the meat came back, and it was a lot of meat. Rhys and mother did the cutting with some friends which in itself took a large part of the day to do. Then it was time to try to fit it all into the freezers.

There is now most of an upright freezer, half a small chest freezer and a large chest freezer full. The sorting did mean we found some interesting things hidden away, including lots of cows milk from when Primrose was in full milk, a few different kinds of fruit and two liters of Elder flower cordial.

Once upon a time, many moons ago…

I was learning to knit again. It was on this day in 2008 that I posted my first proper blog post.This is my second blog, the first one was very much a warm up to this one. And having spent some time reading back through my posts I thought I had posted most of it on this one any way, and all not that long ago either! I began blogging in November 2007 with this: 

A place to begin…Last night I finally got the push I needed to start off, I was on a forum and someone said that they would love to follow something like this, there are already loads of popular TV series, books and magazines about self sufficient so that must mean that other people are interested to. So this is my two pence worth to add to. My idea is very simple: produce as much food for myself as is possible with what I’ve got, that said I already know that it isn’t as simple a task as it sounds. I also would like to learn how to live as cheaply as possible and make some money from the things I enjoy doing.

 What I already have/where I’m at: I already keep goats, two of whom are in milk but I’m not milking them at the moment for no really reason other than the fact that I haven’t sorted myself out into doing this. I have quail; I got some for my last years Christmas present (in April, but I said I wanted to wait to get what I really wanted rather than having something else) from these there is one male left and I brought four more the other day, two females and two males and I brought 24 eggs, 12 of two types, for hatching from ebay last night, they should arrive on Tuesday next week.

 I’m a vegetarian, but others in my family eat meat, and I’ve got most of a vegetable garden up and running now but ‘the family’ have just been told that we can use part of a field we keep donkeys on as a vegetable garden as well which is quite a big space. I’m going up there tomorrow to start clearing the ground and covering some of it with manure ready for the summer.

 “The Family”: that is me (eldest daughter) my parents, my two younger sisters, a younger brother and my boyfriend. ‘The Family’ also includes a whole host of dogs, cats, ponies, donkeys, cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a guinea pig. I don’t think I’ve left anything out but I might have.

 So there are a lot of us, some useful others not so useful. I plan to be adding more very soon and to start adding some photo’s when I’ve got to grips with how to do things on here.

I changed blogs as I wanted to have more control of the way that it looked, and in particular a banner that I could add my own photos to.  A train track in the middle of nowhere is nice… But it wasn’t really what I was looking for. 

So what has changed since my first ever blog post? Well, I have almost finished my first own-spun and knitted project… more details coming soon. 

I have grown my own potatoes for the first time, and leeks, and carrots, and some other thing too; I have made butter and cheese from our own cows milk and cream. I have started keeping chickens, and am having another break from keeping quail, mother has the remaining trio that I had. 

‘The Family’ has grown, my baby sister will be eighteen this summer, we all have boy/girlfriends and although we are all still one big family it feels like we are also splitting off into our own little families as well. 

I am a published magazine writer… Twice. 

I have a much better job and am in much better health then I was back then. I have survived no less than two redundancies. I have become much more of an ‘outdoors’ person, even in the pouring rain I am still happy enough (cue a week long down-pour, sorry) and have much more of an idea of who I am and what I want to do. 

All this sounds very fluffy and… Picture prefect, but the thing is the milestones for ‘this kind of life’ are more woolly or yearly events than anything else. Lambing is followed by shearing, sowing time is followed by the growing season, followed by harvest time… Each year starts with hopes and dreams of building on what has been started the year before, which is followed by successes and failures, wet muddy times followed by the smell of grass cutting and fat happy animals sun bathing. It is a circle that keeps going and has no really ending. 

So here I am again, writing a blog post, in the middle of lambing. It has been raining outside and it is probably not all that different to the very first time I put fingers to keyboard for the first post of this blog and that is just fine by me…