Archive for September, 2016

Recently I added a recipe on making your own plum Compote, here is the very simple recipe on serving the compote with Natural Yogurt and some other bits …
This recipe can be made in a Vegan / dairy Free way by using Soya based Yogurts

Ingredients:

  1. Home made Compote,
  2. Natural non flavoured Organic Yogurt,
  3. Honey,
  4. Banana,
  5. mixed Crushed Nuts.

Method:

 

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Step 1: Place about 2-3 Tablespoons of your Compote into the bottom of a globe glass such as a wine glass etc. Top the latter with a few Tablespoons of Natural Yogurt then finally top with a tablespoon or so of more Compote.

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Step 2: Top the second layer of Compote with a layer of Banana Slices

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Step 3: Top the Banana Slices with the final layer of Natural Yogurt, then you can pour a little amount of honey followed by the Crushed Mixed Nuts

Step 4: Eat !

Click Here for the article on how to Make Your Own Plum Compote

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I just have to make a post about this awesome Heriloom, (non Hybrid / GMO) Tomato Plant ( Tomato ‘Millefleur’ ) because I keep raving about it in previous posts and now, after harvesting 138 tomatoes from One Plant for the Second Time (I think the previous was 134 +- from the one in my Garden a few weeks ago) …

I highly reccommend this Tomato for a small space or balcony garden as it makes huge flower trusses which never seem to stop producing more and more flower! You eventually end up having to cut off any new growth especially when the season starts becoming a little unpredictable (quite common here in the UK).

Please excuse the low quality shots below of the plant …

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Tomato ‘Millefleur’ – a New breed known as Centiflor Tomatoes

Okay, now unfortunately I cannot say any true estimate of how many Tomatoes I have harvested in total so far from the two plants I have, but I can give a rough estimate of around 350 / 370 Tomatoes harvested to date between Both Plants combined, with perhaps another 100 – 150 to come depending on weather conditions, the Tom’s are there alrerady but we are not sure whether they will ripen as it’s almost October and usually by this time of the year, Tomatoes are dead or covered in Blight!

Okay so you aren’t keen on having such an abundant supply of one fruit? Sure, but remember, there is Always the backup of Preservation or even giving to your community! In the coming days I will post an article on Drying and Jarring / Canning your Tomatoes to be able to last into Winter and easily into the following year!

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Tomato ‘Millefleur’ a definite ”Permaculture Plant” in my books, so versatile and fruit can be Preserved to supply well into the next year

 

Please keep an eye out on this Blog, I may just open a shop option whereby I may sell limited amounts of seed packs here of Plants / Annuals which I highly recommend.

Growing these Tomato plants in pots on a Balcony or small space is a good possibility under the following conditions:

  1. Planted in a Large Pot with lots of Organic Material mixed into the soil / compost,
  2. Watered everyday when very hot and dry, but every 3rd day or so during normal summer weather (keep a tray saucer beneath pot if possible),
  3. Fed with a liquid feed once a week after maybe one month after potting into the large pot,
  4. Top of the compost / soil layer covered in some kind of dry mulch such as straw, well composted woodchip etc.
  5. Pot preferrably placed in the shade whilst the plant itself sits in sun as much as possible, you can slice old thick bags like the ones compost come in from the shops, wrap these around the sides only of the plant pot (if the bag is White) to reflect sun and prevent evaporation,
  6. Nip off all new flowers between 15th August and beginning of September as these will hardly get a chance to form and ripen, nipping them off will divert the energy / nutrients into the existing Tomatoes

Do you have / want to grow on your Balcony or very confined space? Then You Need To watch This Video – this will show you just how much can be added into a small space if designed properly!

It’s Apple Season 2016!
Here is a super simple recipe on how to make Apple Cider Vinegar and Apple Cider! This is easily the easiest method with the least effort, the result is delicious albeit with only a low percentage of alcohol (3% +) in the Cider

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Having been in quite a lot of gardens all around London over the last half decade, I can say that it is encouraging that so many people have at least some (or one) apple trees on their properties, some have multiple including neighbour’s trees hanging over their walls, unfortunately as observed, many of these apples end up rotting on the lawn and beds and, in most cases, the families / house residents sometimes don’t even pick a single apple in the season! Has there been change in the generations? Have people become more wealthy? It could also be the change of lifestyle which may include consuming far more time with technology and going out, eating out etc. …

Young Organic Apple Jonagold on an urban Permaculture Farm Organic Apple Jonagold Permaculture

One great way to use up the excess apples is by making Hard Apple Cider and Cider Vinegar, the vinegar is reportedly very long lasting so dry storage…

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One trending recipe that I have come across online quite a lot recently is the Sweet Potato toast recipe, here is my own personal toppings recipe and I also have some very important safety advice based on some personal experience – lets just say, luckily I was in the kitchen at that time!

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Jeff’s Sweet Potato Toast Toppings Recipe

The general method to make the toast:

  1. Check the inside of your toaster, get any bread crumbs out from the bottom (not only the tray, try get as much out as possible),
  2. Peel your Potato (If organic, skip this part),
  3. Slice the potato lengthwise to the thickness of around 8mm to a maximum of 10mm,
  4. Place the slices in the toaster and set the toaster to half the maximum time (be careful the first time you do this!) the potato toast takes longer than bread to make toast and each toaster is different, you really need to do this a few times to be able to get to know your toaster to be able to re-create this recipe over and over with confidence,
  5. Once the toast pops out, use tongs to check, it is likely that it will need to be given another round in the toaster, the toast should become flexible and the skin should start forming ”bubbles” which also start going brown / black – then you know it is ready

NOTE: Regarding step 1, any old collated bread crumbs inside your toaster Can Set On Fire! This happened to me! The reason why is because when making Sweet Potato Toast, we are keeping the toaster on for such a longer time than Bread Toast, which can cause the crumbs to finally get hot enough to catch on fire.
I was in the kitchen and noticed it right away, the fire was strong enough to have actually made the toaster itself catch fire then subsequently the chipboard counter top and pretty much most of the kitchen!! Be Careful

Jeff’s Unique Sweet Potato Toast Topping:

Ingredients:

  1. Hoummous,
  2. Fresh Green Olives,
  3. Red Pesto,

Method:

  1. Spread the Red Pesto on the slice,
  2. Top this with 3-4 dollops of Hoummous using a teaspoon,
  3. Place a few half sliced Green Olives between the Hoummous Dollops,
  4. Eat !

There are quite a few topping recipes online, most of them are Avocado based which I didn’t have any at the time of experimenting with Sweet Potato Toast – I am really quite chuffed with that otherwise I would not have stumbled upon this really nice combination.

I also tried Hoummous only with Green Olives, this does suffice but is definitely not as tasty as with the Pesto.

If you come up with your own recipe, please do come here and comment / share (Remember, you Do Not need a wordpress account to comment on my blog, guests can comment too)

Compote is a French Delicacy and according to a French friend, it really depends on your own tastes in which you prefer to make it a sweet or more sharp / tartish taste. I made mine with a little honey, enough to make it so that guests are not given a dish which already is too sweet for some – this allows them to be able to add more if wanted…

For this recipe, you need about three plums per serving, I was using smaller plums I got for free from a neighbour, they have had this tree for over 10 years and they admit that they let them fall to the floor every year -they are organically grown (no chemicals are sprayed or artificial fertilisers used) and the variety are smaller than some Plums bought in-store, so I would advise perhaps 4-5 plums per recipe if your ones are smaller like these (I believe they may be Plum Victoria)

Ingredients:

  1. 3-5 Plums per serving,
  2. Cloves,
  3. Cinnamon powder or sticks,
  4. Vanilla Seeds or Essence,
  5. Orange, Lemon or Lime,
  6. Honey or any healthy sweetener

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Step 1: Cut your Plums into Quarters

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Step 2: Pour the Quartered Plums into a pre-warmed pot / pan,

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Step 3: Stir so that the Plums start breaking down and juicing a bit,

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Step 4: Pour in your Orange, Lemon or Lime Juice – ( I used Orange )

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Step 5: I used Cloves as well as Cinnamon Sticks, I needed Vanilla essence or Vanilla seeds which weren’t available at that time

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Step 6: Mash the Plums and squash from time to time with your spoon or stirring instrument

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Step 7: Grate in some Lemon Zest and cook until thcik enough where you can draw a spoon across the bottom of the pot, if drawing your spoon across and a line shows, then it is ready for putting aside for cooling or jarring

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Step 8: Let cool and add in your Honey to taste, I used 2 Tablespoons in order to sweeten it up enough to be tarty enough for those who prefer a tart taste, people with a sweet tooth will very likely add more Honey / Sweetener or even Banana slices into the actual served compote etc.

This recipe can be made and preserved, use the same preserving techniques as with preserving Jams ( Click here for one example ) I made enough to have in one jar which went straight into the fridge so I didn’t have to make the effort in sterilising the jar/s for dry storage.

Late Summer / Early Autumn is the best time to start gathering the materials you need for your planned Hugel Bed / Mound, many Herbaceous plants which can be used in conjunction with the wood logs, branches and sticks are now ready to be chopped down and composted or used in another way. Autumn / Winter is the preferred time her in the UK to create your Hugelkultur mounds mainly due to the need for the wet season to soak the beds, the buried logs will soak up the winter rains for months until the upcoming growing season.

Two pieces of advice I can definitely lecture on about in this article to ensure a successful Hugel Project are;
1: Ensure Air Spaces inside the mound and
2: Add lots of Nitrogen rich Biomass internally to offset the nitrogen locking that the logs will create during decomposition

Air Spaces:
Although there are guaranteed to be air spaces between the logs and branches / sticks, I have found that rain and the settling down of the materials can cause these spaces to fill in, often causing or risking an anaerobic result – go explore your garden or any other garden you have access to (You may even be able to make a deal with a local gardening company – they could leave a bag of said such materials for you outside one of their customers properties so as long as you collect the bag and not leave unwanted contents at the site!) remember, you can always bargain that most companies have to pay to dump their waste at commercial specialist dumps, remind them that you are helping them reduce the need to do so, in most cases they will still have charged their customers to ”remove” the waste even though you took if off of their hands, the customer will inevitably still be charged for it being dumped.

There are many herbaceous plant species which have a hollow stem and need cutting down in Autumn, cut these stems into pieces which you will spread around and in between your logs at different levels to ensure small air cavities will remain. Cedums, Ornamental Globe Artichokes, Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes), Young Bamboo (and old), some Hydrangea varieties and many more have hollow cavity stems which harden enough when dry to be used in this case.

Then there is dry hard leaf ”garden waste” which takes ages to decompose, these are leaves from shrubs and trees which are more on a glossy and hard / stiff texture than a soft / decidious and most likely in all cases, evergreen. Three options I have from the top of my head as examples are the leaves of ‘Magnolia Grandeflora’, The climber ‘Clematis Armandii’ , the Loquat ‘Eribotrya japonica’ Fruit Tree, Some Rhododendrons (look for the large leaved varieties) and Laurels. We have found that most of these leaves can take up to two years in an unturned / undisturbed compost pile to break down, they maintain their structure even when pressed down so they are perfect for maintaining air spaces / gaps internally within the Hugel Bed / Mound! Practically any glossy leaved plant / shrub / tree will do but the larger and dryer – the better!
In fact, a couple of these Tree / Shrub leaves will actualy curl up to form a cilyndrical tube shape with an internal hollow gap, when pressed these are strong and bounce back right away once released.

Nitrogen Rich Biomass:
Probably one of the best options are fresh grass clippings from your lawn mowing or that of a neighbour / friend. You can even clip your grass at your home twice a week for the last 3 or so weeks of Summer, keep these clippings aside in a breathable bag until ready to add into the Hugel Bed – if you obtain clippings over several weeks, you Will need to add additional fresh greens into the mix to compenate lost nitrogen.
Horse Manure is also a great option but I would suggest it be used more as an addition to fresh green waste rather than 100% of the nitrogen source
The not-so-popular option amongst people new to Permaculture, is human Urine, which has a good nitrogen content and is often used diluted 1 part to 10 in early season liquid feed for plants
If you plan on lets say December being your target month for getting your Hugel project started, I would advise Growing a patch of Broad or Field bean green manure from Late August / Early September – these will be ready for chopping down and adding into your bed around and amongst the logs as the fresh greens instead of grass clippings which won’t be available during that month anyway

Further Reading: Click Here for an article on the step-by-step making of a Hugelkultur Mound / Bed

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Bill Mollison – Australian Permaculture Pioneer

” You do not have a Slug Problem, you have a Duck Deficiency! ”
– Bill Mollison