Archive for August, 2016

I accidentally let a Courgette (Zucchini) get to Marrow size, although I sometimes do this, I so far haven’t let any go past the 1 kg mark, the harvest from last week yielded a Marrow that is sitting somewhere at the 1.85 kg mark!! We still have yet to open it and see if it has gone to seed, if yes are they woody yet? if not, is it soft and still edible? I have seen a recipe online for Stuffed large Courgettes which I would like to give a try …

25 Runner Beans ‘Czar’, 35 Tomato ‘Millefleur’, 2x Italian Vine Tomatoes and the Courgette-Zilla with it’s normal sized cousin. The Millefleur tomatoes are really delicious straight from the bush, this variety will be a mainstay from now on for me.

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Regrets I have, as usual are that I again had plants germinated which I didn’t get in the ground or at least re-potted soon enough, they went to waste and this harvest could have included a good bowl full of various leafy greens for a nice salad … perhaps even an Aubergine or two if I had made good effort to get my polytunnel finished at least two months ago.

In the above photo’s you can see the prolific fruiting of the Tomato ‘Millefleur’ variety, we have had a pretty weak summer this year and I suspect that this variety will do much better in hotter summers.
I am very, very chuffed to say that I Finally got a Watermelon forming, the little ball really expanded quite a bit in the last day or two since I first spotted it (there looks to be another forming on one of the other plants too ūüôā
Since it is so late in the season to even think of the watermelon doing well at all, I just need to get the polytunnel finished and work on adding heat mass temporarily into the tunnel to counter the inevitable cold nights that are very close around the corner -by heat mass I mean large rocks / bricks etc to absorb the sun’s radiation during the day to release slowly at night, the Watermelon Variety is bred for a short season so hopefully by October it can be harvested
One or two flowers from the one surviving Melon seem to be selling too so hopefully something is going on there as well …

It was a clear day (mostly) and everything in the pond was highly visible almost down to the bottom, my Oxygenating plants have grown so much I can start selling them in small batches now (the Water Mint is also sending shoots out in every direction, looks like I may have to sell a pond starter package online?), today I spotted the regular frog then suddenly a smaller one popped out from the same hiding place!

The pond has been swamped with Water Skaters, I saw two who found a lonesome Woodlouse to munch on. Today I managed to add some Onions into my last outdoor sowings of Carrots (the Carrots were seeded about two weeks ago – the Onions were placed where seeds failed to Germinate), planting a few Onions between and around your Carrots will confuse Carrot Root Fly – for those of you who are new to this, it’s called a few names worldwide –¬†most commonly,¬†Companion Planting or Intercropping.

I planted these onions knowing it is too late for them, but two things could happen here;
1: They will be a reasonable size once they need pulling out, so can be used as Salad Onions or
2: If small enough, they can be lifted to be stored to dry out, then I can use them to start early in my polytunnel for large Spring time Onions
3: They will survive at least most of the length of the Carrots’ life, so they will have fulfilled their purpose if they only provide the distracting scents

The Globe Artichokes ‘Cynara cardunculus’ a non edible variety of Globe Artichoke which is used mainly for ornamental reasons, are doing well it seems. All three are sending out fresh shoots including the one I planted in the very beginning (About 4 month’s ago when I got granted the land) -the most recent ones are scavenged from another plot which is vacant, I don’t want to find out that new tenants thought it was a weed and decided to kill¬†them off …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So here it is, as stated in a recent post, I missed last year’s Blackberry picking season due to being very busy with projects in my free time and the sad realisation that I had also missed Sweet Chestnut season TWO YEARS¬†in a row!!

There really is not much of an excuse for not foraging for Blackberries considering they are so widespread in the UK and the fact that you can freeze them until needed (this may not be suitable for some recipes however.)

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2 kg’s of Blackberries in a Large Saladmaster Pot

 

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • 2 kg ( ) Blackberries, freshly picked or from frozen
  • 1.450 kg ( ) Granulated Sugar
  • Juice of 1.5 Lemons
  • Large Pot
  • Cleaned Re-useable Jam / Honey or other Jars with Lids
  • Tongs if possible
  • Small Pot or Pan
  • Oven Gloves
  • Wooden Spoon and a Ladle
  • NOTE: this same recipe can be followed in a smaller amount ie: 1 kg of Blackberries with Juice of 1 Lemon and 750g of Granulated Sugar

Method:

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Step 1: Place your freshly washed and rinsed jars inside your oven and leave there until later

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Step 2: Place the jar lids inside a small pan or pot, covered in water ready to being to the boil (this is where you use the tongs, to take them out of the water one by one when needed)

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Step 3: Slowly heat the Blackberries until they give off some of the juice liquid, you can help them along by semi squashing with a spatula or potato masher, this should take maybe 5 minutes (expect more if your blackberries were frozen)
Note: If you want your jam to be lumpy thick, minimise how much you stir and squash the blackberries)

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Step 4: Now add in the Lemon Juice as well as the Sugar, mix well then bring it all to the boil, once boiling, simmer gently until it thickens and reaches 105 Degrees Celsius

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Step 5: When there is an obvious change in the density of the liquid (becomes runny / watery) you can start boiling the water in the small pot / pan and switch your oven on to a high temperature (150 Degrees Celsius) to start sanitizing your jars and their lids.
After your Jam-to-be has boiled nicely for around 30minutes to an hour since adding in the other ingredients, you are looking to have a temperature of around 105 Degrees Celsius before you switch off the heat and start filling your jars, there is a Simple Method to check if it is the right temperature without needing to obtain a Candy Thermometer, just do the Cold Plate Test.

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Step 6: Once happy with the thickness after testing on a plate, start ladling the Jam into the jars one by one (I keep the other jars in the oven and only take out one at a time)
As soon as a jar is fill, use a damp cloth or tissue to remove any bits on the rim of the jar then place a lid and give a good firm twist, place the jar on a cloth or tissues away from the reach of kids etc.and let sit until morning or a few hours later.
Note: Oven gloves and tongs will be needed at this stage

I managed to fill 6x small / medium, 2x medium to large and 1x Large Jar which was quite impressive, note that the jars are mostly different, I do re-use any jars that I can from my grocery shopping, it does work and jams / chutneys I preserved last year are still fine today – there is absolutely No Need to go out and buy expensive specialist ”preserving jars” in fact, the one time I had a failure is in a dedicated larny Kilner Preserving Jar!

Date and label them if you wish, then store in a pantry or cupboard which is not too close to your cooking station.

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Did you like this recipe? I have more, just click on ”Recipes and Preserving”¬†in the Contents Panel on the left
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Feel free to also share this on Social Media, I do not have social media accounts for this blog so sharing this free useful information is encouraged and very much appreciated …

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Sepp Holzer -The Rebel Farmer

 

”Pigs are blessed by nature with a plough in front and a compost spreader at the back”
– Sepp Holzer (page #109, Desert or Paradise)

And so¬†I finally get around to posting ”what’s going on” photo’s of both my Allotment and Garden …

I love bees, but unfortunately with this year’s cool weather, I haven’t been able to get a nice photo yet compared with previous years, I do have a frog though ūüėČ

Click on each picture below for a larger image of such

 

Wildlife have increased both on the Allotment and Garden, mainly due to the added varieties of plants as well as ponds on both sites, I can’t stress enough how important a pond is, even if you just get a small container and place it in a hole with a few plants inside, it will go a long way to help the local ecosystem, not only that but can also create a Micro Climate which you can take advantage of in terms of Plant Variety and options …

Tadpoles are, Still Tadpoles! …¬†in the small pond at home, I’m leaning towards that maybe they don’t have as much food due to the pond size compared with the Allotment, so I’ve made a mental note to throw in a few more ”accidentally stepped on” slugs to help them along …

I’m growing Achocha for the first time this year, they are climbers so they are growing amongst the Pumpkins on the large trellis, they are related to the famous ‘Exploding Cucumber’ but the reason why I’m growing them is I feel like giving up on Peppers, the slugs are too Rambo here and this variety is said to taste like Green Peppers when fried – they are also a vine plant so a bit out of reach for the slugs.

The Japanese ‘Hokkaido’ Pumpkin are said to be one of the easiest Heritage (Heirloom) pumpkins to grow in the UK climate, are quite prolific and highly recommended as well as the Pumpkin Masque De Province.

I chopped down my Bocking 14 Comfrey literally 3 – 4 weeks ago and already have a plant almost two thirds back to the original size! You definitely need to divide the roots every year after the second year onwards … the crowns sell for reasonable money online so keep that in mind! I am pondering opening an online shop here, this will be something on offer if I go ahead with the idea.

Above are the photo’s from the Allotment plot, starting with a nice sunrise sometime perhaps after 6am? Once cloud, wow, amazing for the UK skyline eh?

The wildflower bed is¬†doing better now than I had expected (I really waited very late to buy and sow a pack on that dedicated bed) luckily all worked out fine, I suspect maybe less than half of the varieties mentioned on the seed pack germinated so I was quite happy with what came out. The Borage flowers are beautiful aren’t they? No wonder they are used in salads for a visual touch!

The¬†Pumpkin¬†is another French variety¬†Galeuse d’Eysines which I had some reasonable success with last year, it climbs well and does pretty good in storage

I placed Marigolds ‘Tagetes’ too late ( well I discovered that Marigolds really should be the First plant you germinate before you start sowing vegetable seeds – this is a personal observation, but I bet not my own) and hence lost a Pumpkin and Courgette plant to slugs, the other marigolds under my Achocha plants almost got completely decimated (that’s their purpose anyway) but are coming back to life now, their new purpose is ornamental¬†to brighten up the plot¬†and finally to provide me with seed for next year

The Water Mint ‘Mentha Aquatica’ are now flowering, they are insect / Bee beneficial and if you look closely in the photo, you can see¬†a resident Frog¬†on the left near the flower right in the emergence zone at the water line.

Till the next Garden / Allotment update – most likely a Harvest Update but there might be more ”mid summer” if we suddenly get good hot weather so the plants can get a boost

As promised, since it is Blackberry season (at least here in the UK it is), here is my simple Blackberry Pie recipe with fresh pictures and berries from Today’s pie I made for the family.

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Remember, there are many uses for Blackberries (they can be frozen until needed for Smoothies, Jam etc.) freezing may be unsuitable for making pies though so this recipe has been added first so you can use freshly picked berries. Personally after having tried at least 5 cultivated berries from different locations for home growing (thornless Blackberries), I can say that all of them did not come close in taste and deliciousness to their Native Wild counterparts!

They may have been much larger in size and appearance, but it’s the taste that counts and Wild Blackberries are far better – I suspect that flavour was lost when selectively breeding a thornless blackberry variety, I could be wrong though.

Ingredients for a 20cm diameter pie dish:

  • 200 g ( 7 oz ) blackberries
  • 450 g (1 lb ) cooking apples
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 500 g ( 1lb ) shortcrust pastry
  • 75 g (2.5 oz) brown sugar (white can be a substitute here)
  • half teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • one quarter teaspoon ground ginger

Recipe Instructions:

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Step 1: Core, peel and slice the Apples into wedge pieces, melt the butter In a pan, then add the Ginger Powder, Cinnamon, Apples and Sugar.
Mix in well and let sit on low heat for about 10 minutes.

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Step 2: Whilst waiting for that to cook through, lightly grease the pie dish and add the pie pastry on the bottom, be careful not to leave gaps by pressing in on the sides.

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Step 3: Slice the excess dough with any knife, my new favourite is a basic cutlery knife rather than a sharp cutting knife as usually recommended

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Step 4: Pour in the apples and their juice (Save some for tomorrow?) and pack gently

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Step 5: Pour the Blackberries over the apples

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Step 6: Place the remaining pie pastry over the top, slice the edges again with a knife then with a fork, crimp the edges as you would do on any pie recipe – finally, brush coat the top with the beaten egg.

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Step 7: Place in pre-heated oven at 220 Degrees Celsius for 10 minutes, then reduce to 180 Degrees Celsius for another 25 Р30 minutes. Remove from oven, place on a wire rack (I use my stove tops at the back) to cool down, if you like a warm / hot pie then serve after 10 minutes, if cold, place in your fridge so it can served after a couple of hours.

This was a fun recipe this time, I’m glad to have successfully tried it out today and will definitely always try to make a few of these when the season is right, the taste was a sweet tart mix.

I usually have quite a lot of left over pie pastry, you can always keep aside some apple pieces and blackberries to make mini hand molded Cornish Pasty shaped mini pies to ensure nothing goes to waste …

In the coming days, I will post the Blackberry Jam recipe so please do visit back soon

Everyone in the Permaculture scene has heard of, or studied the works of Sepp Holzer to some extent, if not, then their tunnel vision is testament to their level of research skill.

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Sepp Holzer in Austria

Ever since I decided to buy Sepp’s main book ‘Holzer Permaculture’¬†from the Book Stand at the London Permaculture Festival 2015, I was truly captivated, this man Knows what he is doing and he was practicing Permaculture way before the word had even been coined!

Sepp Holzer, a short Bio :

Sepp Holzer (born July 24, 1942 in Ramingstein, Province of Salzburg, Austria) is a farmer, author, and an international consultant for natural agriculture. He took over his parents’ mountain farm business in 1962 and pioneered the use of ecological farming, or permaculture, techniques at high altitudes (1100 to 1500 meters above sea level) after being unsuccessful with regular farming methods.

Holzer was called the “rebel farmer” because he persisted, despite being fined and even threatened with prison, with practices such as not pruning his fruit trees (unpruned fruit trees survive snow loads that will break pruned trees). He has created some of the world’s best examples of using ponds as reflectors to increase solar gain for Passive solar heating of structures, and of using the microclimate created by rock outcrops to effectively change the hardiness zone for nearby plants. He has also done original work in the use of Hugelkultur and natural branch development instead of pruning to allow fruit trees to survive high altitudes and harsh winters.

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Ponds and House at his 45ha Krameterhof Farm

His expanded farm – the Krameterhof – now spans over 45 hectares of forest gardens, including 70 ponds, and is said to be the most consistent example of permaculture worldwide.
In 2009 Sepp Holzer left the Krameterhof in the hands of his son Josef Andreas Holzer. Since 2013 Sepp Holzer lives on his new farm – the Holzerhof farm – in the Burgenland, Austria. He is currently conducting permaculture (“Holzer Permaculture”) seminars both at his Holzerhof farm and worldwide.

He is an author of several books, works nationally as a permaculture-activist in the established agricultural industry, and works internationally as an adviser for ecological agriculture.

Source: Sepp Holzer’s Website

Click Here for more on the Krameterhof farm where he was born.

Click Here for what he is doing currently on the new, smaller Holzerhof.

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Sepp Takes Great Effort to Rest and Connect With Nature

I have two videos that I recommend watching, the first is ‘Sepp Holzer, The Agro Rebel’ (44 min’s):

Second Video is ‘Sepp Holzer’s Mountain Permaculture Farm’ (33 min’s):

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Sepp Passionately Explaining on His Farm

I am an avid fan of the Holzer Permaculture methods, I find Sepp Holzers outlook and methods to be closer to nature than his Australian counterparts but I am in no way saying that the common Permaculture is in any way wrong. I merely like his approach and understanding of nature better, it resonates with me, in one way, I feel he is more spiritual and feels the energy or information that nature gives him than the more scientific approach that the others show us.

I highly recommend reading his books and also following his works online, there are many videos you can catch on various media sources such as youtube, I do not however, claim that his work is all that you should research and follow, by all means do follow the works of Bill Mollison, David Holmgren, John D. Liu, Geoff Lawton, the late Patrick Whitefield (UK / Temperate Climate Permaculturist) and many more

Sepp - Desert or Paradise

Desert or Paradise by Sepp Holzer

 

In the last couple of months, in my own very home I have rediscovered how important a true, good healthy supply of Water is for us, my family and also the world as a whole, I have invested in a system that provides us with the right structured water which is also high PH (Potential Hydrogen) as well as extremely low Oxidation Potential.
After attending last Sundays London Permaculture Festival and purchasing my second book by Sepp Holzer titled ”Desert or Paradise – restoring endangered landscapes using water management, including lake and pond construction” where I am only now on page 28, one realises how good Living natural water is so important to every living being as well as the planet as a whole! He describes how our man made changes to the landscape has caused certain issues which come back to us through nature as so called ”Natural Disasters”.
People like Sepp Have The Answers but it will take people like us to force our Governments to take note and seek out their expertise and the time is NOW!

They don’t call this guy ”The Rebel Farmer” for nothing …

Ok so I thought I was just going to be writing one paragraph explaining why you should watch this 12 minute video (below) … just goes to show how Sepp has the ability to captivate those who are truly awake to the issues we have in this world!

Sepp Holzer and Bernd Muller explain about their project in Tamara Portugal where they took a soon-to-be desert landscape and constructed a lake for water retention and preventing desertification of that particular area, he has done this in other areas around the world as well, this is a must watch for anyone interested in restoring land or wanting to create an abundant landscape for the sake of wildlife and human life.