Friday, 14 August 2009

Jammy jammy jam

Making jam is a great way to preserve fruit. It's even better when the fruit is free. We go brambling every summer and usually get enough fruit to see us through for the next year. We also have one blackberry bush in our garden. This year however the council seems to have "cleared" up where they grow so there won't be as much. However we found a wild apple tree on our travels which will come in useful.

Last year we had Damson jam from 2 trees in a piece of land opposite us. We were gutted when they started building on it earlier this year. To our joy though they have put a fence up around their property line and one tree is outside of that. The other tree overhangs some railings above the footpath and we found a huge windfall there the other day.

So I've made 4 tubs of jam so far, 2 of each kind. All for free :o) Gotta love it.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The beginning of the harvest

This weekend just past we started the harvest from our very small garden. We have already had and enjoyed our first and second early potatoes and are just starting to pull up our main crop as we need them. The next things to pull were the garlic and the onions. For the last couple of months or so all the onions in the supermarkets have been coming from the Southern Hemisphere. This is far to great a distance for us to bear bringing food that we can grow at home so we have simply gone without. We managed to grown between 80 and 90 onions this year. Spadger grew them, I braided them and now they are hanging in my Momma's shed to dry. We paid her in onions for this service :o)

We tried our hands at beans this year and it was a bit of a disaster. We sowed the first lot which proceeded to grow straight away. This was far too early. The same happened with the second lot. At this point we decided to ignore the sowing instructions on the packet. We started them on the windowsill, planted them on out home made frame when the time came and prayed. Sure enough some didn't grow, others were eaten by bugs and slugs and some were ruined by the terrible winds we had. However we did get enough off them for one meal for 4 people. They were the tastiest beans I have ever had! Below is the last bean. There were only 1 or 2 left on the plants, not enough for a meal, so we chose to just dig them into the soil as they are great for fixing nitrogen.

So now all that is left in the ground are some potatoes, the parsnips (man they spend FOREVER in the ground) and some jerusalem artichokes. In the mini green house there are the tomatoes which are just starting to ripen. And in one big pot there are random gourds. I have no idea what they are, we think there are 2 different plants and they could be anything from pumpkins, harlequin squash or butternut squash. I can't wait to find out. There is one fruit on one of the plants that has grown well and several on the other that might develop. They all had the most beautiful flowers.

The view from the Barn

This is the view from the Barn. What barn I hear you ask (well I do in my head anyway). A while ago me any Spadger when camping to a place called Jerusalem Farm near Halifax. It's great. In a valley, no phone reception, little river running along the site, nice pub at the top of the hill. And this Barn. I call it a barn but it's really a run down house. We took one look at it and decided that this is the kind of place we would like to live in. It has a decent amount of land around it but not too much. There would be space for crops, the animals we would like, a small orchard and a little pond. Heaven. In reality even if we could afford to go about buying a property and doing it up we have no way of finding out who owns it if anyone.
This view is taken from pretty much opposite the Barn so I imagine it would be really similar to standing at the wall at the edge of the property and looking out. This is my view to look at when things are getting me down and my dream of living in the Barn seems so very far away.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The joy of the garden

We live in one of the most densely populated cities in England. But, for all the people it has, there is a surprising amount of green land around. A good sign of this is our garden. We have an abundance of wildlife in and around our garden and we haven't had to do much to encourage it in. We live pretty close to a river and a canal which means we seem to get an awful lot of frogs and toads. I think this is great as they are possibly my favourite animals with butterflies coming in a very close second.

We also get a lot of bugs. Having the veggie plot out the back probably contributes to the variety we get. I have seem everyday average bugs, bees and wasps, hover flies (below), dragonflies and I think I spotted a Sabre Wasp Rhyssa persuasoria yesterday.

The only problem with our garden is the lack of flowers. We have 2 sycamore trees and 2 medium sized conifers and they sap all the moisture from the ground. Plus our soil is quite clay based anyway. Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. We have successfully grown a peony, several buddleia, some teasels, many fuchsias and some lilies. And the ubiquitous roses of course.

Next year I am going to plant lots of things in pots so I can control the soil and drainage. I miss flowers and would like to encourage more bugs into the garden. We have also turned a small corner of our garden into a wild patch which I have named "Where the Wild Things Are". We have put in lots of poppy sees, wild grass seeds and a Lush seed bomb so far.

Indoor peppers

Quite a while ago a blogged about the radishes we were growing indoors on out windowsill. Well they didn't grow. I don't know what we did wrong but they put out plenty of leaf and then grew nothing underground! We were not happy.

However the peppers we are growing are doing really well.

There are 3 varieties that are growing at the moment. The beautiful purple peppers are my favourites as I love purple and I've never seen a purple pepper before.

The green ones seem to be the most bell shaped out of all the ones that are growing so these are our most "standard" peppers.

The creamy green coloured ones seem to be turning purpley red from the tip up to the top so I have no idea what colour they will end up.

I'm really looking forward to picking them and having a really fresh pepper. I also have to figure out what the best way of storing them is. I think it will be freezing but I'm not sure. maybe I'll have a go a drying one just to see how it works. Next year we will have more of them as they will be grown in the greenhouse we plan on getting soon.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Too long between posts

Wow it's been a while since I posted. It's partly because I know that no one is reading it and partly because I feel a blog should have pictures and I've not had chance to sort any recently.

However I started this blog as a kind of journal so I really need to keep writing regardless. It has been too long since I did any serious writing. Longer still since I did any creative writing. Once upon a time I wrote poetry almost every day. Haven't done that in ages!

So what to talk about this time? Well I have been sewing like mad for the holiday. Pics will be coming on this as soon as I take them :o) I've also been knitting like a mad woman. I'm finally starting to master more interesting stitches. The only downside to this is that I have been neglecting my blanket. I started it about 4 years ago and gave up as I couldn't even master the purl stitch and just plain knit seemed a bit dull to me. However I have got the hang of it now plus mitered squares, the Trousdale square and many different patterns. Hopefully I will have it done for this winter. But not if I don't get back on with it!

I have also done a fair bit of baking. Home made bread buns which were a semi-success. They tasted ok but they were a little small and dense. I think I overworked the dough a bit. I was trying to adjust a recipe from dry yeast to activated in my defence.

I think that is me caught up for the mo. At some point this weekend I think I will try and sort some pics for future blogs so I don't leave it so long. But I will leave you with one I took a while ago at the local nature reserve. Nothing to do with my post but it is a nice pic :o)