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Monday, 23 September 2013

Try something new

Had a busy few days in the garden. Venka has been away looking after her grandson while his parents are away, but came back at the weekend and got Dave organised pulling up the pepper plants and picking off the remaining peppers. We were hoping to just leave them for Venka, we have them sauced in bottles, roasted whole, stuffed and diced in the freezer, dehydrated....masses of them and will never get through them. But though she took one bucket full, we ended up with two banana boxes full. So we set about slicing them up to dry in the sun as there is no room for more in the freezer. Quite a few we couldn't use as they were past their best, but we still had a bucket full of sliced peppers. They are now sun bathing on the wall. Venka also managed to find us a couple more watermelons...thought they had finished!

We have sorted out the compost heap. A lot of stuff is burned as mentioned before, but when processing the waste has been put on a heap of weeds to try to encourage rotting down, rather than just drying in a heap. It worked in patches but the heap was sprawling and under trees, so we moved it and tidied it' mixing the drier bits with the rotting bits and it is now more likely to do the job. We are now going to start a new tidy heap next to it and do the job properly. We really need the humus to help the soil structure. The soil is incredibly fine and clags together like concrete after rain, though it certainly grows stuff well!
We are carrying on with trying to get the walnuts harvested. The tried and trusted method seems to be throwing heavy sticks into the tree and seeing what falls down....lots of black ones but also plenty of useable nuts. Bonnie thought this was a great game and was convinced Dave was throwing the sticks into the tree for her, and her excitement could be heard all over the village. Bella was hiding behind me! Time to chill...
The weather during the day is still very warm but with a breeze, meaning I am not hiding inside out of the sun most of the day. There are still butterflies everywhere, the roses are still flowering well, and we found a little aster which needs rescuing before we get the plough in.

The chicks have a new run and are spending lots of time outside while they can, supervised by nanny Bella. Our neighbour is amazed at how well they are growing, and likes the fact they are local breed of chicken. Should we have any spare next spring we will let them have some to do with what they want. Someone else has expressed an interest too, but only wants hens which defeats the object of having a rare breed, he only has them for pets.

We have extended the chicken run to give them some fresh ground. We intend to allow them the run of most of the plot during winter, they can keep the weeds down, eat the bugs and fertilize all at once. They need to earn their keep over winter if they stop laying! The girls soon found the wall and decided it was a good place to find out what was on the other side, the grass being greener and all that. Strangely enough they have not been onto the wall since. Can't have found us very interesting.

Sevi wondered where his ladies had gone, he was wondering about looking for them! They were jeering him!

I've been busy in the kitchen too, trying things I have not done before, with some success. The first was donuts (saw James Martin making some and had to try!) which was a way of using up some of the eggs an milk in the fridge. I made the mini donuts, then some with a piece of chocolate inside, and some plain rings. The rest of the dough is in the freezer. Put some of my grape and pear jelly in the little ones, they were lovely. The chocolate I use was too bitter, but I have frozen the donuts and will have them warm with a slice of ice cream inside when we need a treat (or cream if we can find any)

As well as the quince hanging over from next door, Venka sent us three, beautifully presented on a plate we had sent a piece of lemon cake over to Jordan on when she was away (he has a sweet tooth...only the one!) with the stalk carrying two leaves. So as everyone raves about quince jelly I made some. Looks lovely but it is recommended we don't eat it until it has matured a few weeks.
The other thing (again, James Martin's fault) I tried was puff pastry. I have tried making it before but somehow it didn't work. This time it worked and we now have cheese and onion pie (got some real cheddar) and a couple of Eccles cakes for later. The only thing wrong was the flavour, the butter here is just not right and I am having difficulty getting used to it.
And yes, I know the puff isn't huge, but I rolled it thin to make it go a long way. Over half the pastry is in the freezer now.

Mind you, the Yorkies I made last night were HUGE!


  1. Are you thinking about growing any staples over the next couple of years? I think I'd like to grow a bit of wheat to make my own flour (small quantities obviously).
    Personally, I don't think you can have too much food stored up for winter. I'd rather have cupboards and freezers bursting and food left over. Don't forget it's a year until the next harvest.
    You can make wine out of anything too. I wonder what pepper and chili wine would be like. I think it would probably keep you warm in the winter ;)
    Do you know if your fresh water source freezes in the winter?

    1. Hi. No, we will not be growing wheat. Apart from only having half an acre, we would have to buy something to process the wheat and at our age it is money wasted. The flour I buy is a couple of quid for five kilos. That is quite a bit of bread/pasta/pastry for the two of us. It's a case of weighing up the cost against the gain, and not spending money we could never get back, as well as the extra work as we get older. Had we been younger with some sort of income to back us up......

      As for wine, we don't actually drink, apart from the odd glass of beer in hot weather which again is cheaper to buy than make at about 80p for two litres. We still have wine from our wedding eight years ago! Rakia we drink under protest, but luckily the neighbours have realised that we do OK together and don't need to be looked after any more. However, we have been told there is a co-operative in the village where you can take your grape harvest and get wine back in return. Might be a talking point if ever we have visitors.

      As for water, you hear a different tale from whoever you ask, but I expect there will be problems should temperatures drop below -20 for any length of time. We will be filling water containers to keep in the house for emergencies and I doubt the well will freeze. We have a testing kit which we will use before winter in case we need to use water from there.

  2. Oh my goodness! I live in Alaska and we have the little mountain asters exactly like those! How neat, I wonder if they are wide spread throughout the northern hemisphere?